Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Sour Cherry Lemon Sourdough Bread with Nuts

Oh yum, this bread is beyond delicious, it's downright addictive. How else can I explain slice after slice of a warm 1/2 pound boule disappearing before supper? With full stomachs we let it substitute for our evening meal on baking day. A second rustic loaf, sliced and lightly toasted, filled in as breakfast for two the next morning. We really needed to slow down, stop after one slice, or switch to elastic waistband jeans... but there were two more of those tempting loaves left. 

 I fell in love with this dried cherry/lemon combination when we stopped for lunch on a roadtrip through Skagit County. We shared scrumptious orders of breaded oysters and oyster shooters at the Longhorn Saloon, a biker bar in Bow, Washington, but it was the visit to the nearby BreadFarm bakery that made my day. Display cases and counters featured trays of tempting cookies and breads. Thank goodness I took the suggestion of a helpful baker and chose the large loaf of Sour Cherry Lemon Bread (and an assortment of cookies). 

I planned to sample the bread at home that evening, but my willpower failed me. Who could resist the aroma of fresh bread? not me. We stopped at friends to visit and share the cookies, and eventually I cut a few thin slices off the bread round for us to sample. Instant hit! we nibbled out way through the cookies and could have polished off all of the bread too. Instead I tucked the remaining half loaf inside a paper bag and stashed it back in the car. I still planned to enjoy that bread at home, truly I did. That didn't happen; nope, we tore off small chunks and ate the whole thing on the two-hour drive back to Seattle. Have you noted my breadaholic tendencies here? 

Batch #1: I added dried sour cherries and lemon zest to my standard recipe for No Knead Sourdough Bread (link). It was good, but not quite lemony enough. 

Batch #2 featured the dried sour cherries plumped in lemon juice, drained and then added to a new sourdough recipe along with the zest of one lemon and a handful of chopped pecans. Mmmmmm, delicious. This batch was closer to the remembered flavors of the Edison Breadfarm loaf, but the crumb was a smidge heavy. Too much flour? maybe too thick a starter? Any issues here were with the baker, not the recipe.

In Batch #3 I ignored the sourdough factor altogether and used soaked cherries, lemon juice and lemon zest along with a standard white bread recipe. Still good! I think I'm on to something here.

We love this bread for morning toast or as an afternoon snack - warmed,naked and subtle in its lemonyness, or warmed and slathered with butter or cream cheese. It makes an awesome base for a sweet bread pudding, but that's a topic for anther post. Sour Cherry Lemon Bread just might replace Walnut Rosemary Sourdough as my absolute favorite bread. Try adding dried sour cherries, lemon zest and nuts to your favorite bread recipe - you'll love it. Just remember, it could be habit-forming.

Sour Cherry Lemon Sourdough Bread with Nuts
adapted from Ed Wood's recipe for Cranberry-Nut Sourdough in Classic Sourdoughs: A Home Baker's Handbook, 2011 revision

2 cups sourdough starter, fed, proofed and pancake-batterlike consistency
1 1/4 cups water
2 tablespoons sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons salt
1 cup dried sour cherries
juice of 1 lemon
zest of 1 lemon
1/2 cup chopped nuts (I used pecans but other nuts would work as well)
4 - 4 3/4 cups unbleached AP flour

Mixing the Dough - First Rise

  1. Use a zester to remove the zest of 1 lemon; set aside.
  2. Soak the dried cherries in lemon juice until they plump up; drain set aside discarding the lemon juice or use it for another purpose.
  3. Pour the active sourdough starter into a mixing bowl. Add all of the other ingredients except the flour and mix well.
  4. Add the flour one cup at a time until it's too stiff to mix by hand. Turn out onto a floured board and knead in the remaining flour as needed until the dough is smooth and shiny. OR use your stand mixer and bread hook.
  5. Place the dough in a large bowl, cover with plastic wrap and let it proof overnight 8 to 12 hours at room temperature. The dough should double in size.
Shaping the Loaf - Second Rise
  1. Use a bread scraper or rubber spatula to gently ease the dough onto a floured board. Allow to rest for 30 minutes. If the dough flattens markedly, knead in additional flour before shaping your loaves.
  2. Following the 30-minute rest, it's time to divide the dough in half (or fourths, etc.) and shape it.
  3. Take a portion of the dough and flatten it slightly; lift a portion from the edge, pull and fold toward the center. Continue this lifting and pulling around the dough to form a rough ball. Pat and pull into the desired loaf shape.
  4. Repeat with the remaining lump(s) of dough.
  5. Place the shaped dough on a baking sheet or in bread pans and proof for 2 to 4 hours, until double in bulk.

  1. Place the baking sheet or pans in a cool oven; set the temperature to 375 F and bake for 70 minutes (or until browned and 185-190 F internal temperature). 
  2. Remove the loaves from the sheet or pans; cool on a wire rack for at least 20 minutes before slicing... if you can wait that long.
  3. We eat this bread almost as fast as it comes out of the oven, but an occasional small boule has lasted as long as a week and still been quite tasty though a little bit drier.


  1. Oh wow, I love all the ingredients in this bread! I'm also a totally bread addict :-)

  2. Katherine, greetings to a fellow bread addict. Thanks for stopping by.


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