Full of dried fall inspired fruits and toasty pecans, this apricot cranberry pecan bread is a wonderful welcome into fall bread making! And it smells utterly delicious!
Is everyone still deep in the throes of bread making? Are we over the sourdough bread trend? Can you find yeast yet? What I love about this recipe is that it falls between both camps of bread making, and can satisfy both the sourdough lovers and the yeasted dough makers in each camp.
If you’ve been working with sourdough these last few months, you’ve probably developed and unhealthy attachment to your sourdough starter, and given it a name by now. Mine is Harold.
Clearly, I’ve gone ’round the bend… It could also be the newborn nighttime feeding related sleep deprivation…
I’ve been making countless rounds of sourdough, testing and retrying recipes to find one that works best for me – because really each and every one is so different! But I also love a good yeasted bread, where it’s a little easier to manage, a little less guesswork, a little more predictable, and just as satisfying to cut into when all is said and done.
This apricot cranberry pecan bread bridges both of those categories! It has a touch of yeast in it, but also incorporates the principles of sourdough, by using a pre-fermented dough known as a “biga” (bee-gah). The biga has a lower hydration rate than a typical sourdough starter. If you’ve been keeping one of those alive for an extended period of time, you know that you feed it with a 1:1 ratio of flour and water which makes a pretty soupy mixture. With the biga, it is a shaggy pre-ferment of about 45-60% hydration, meaning more flour to less water along with that touch of yeast to kick things off.
And what else I love about this recipe, is that it is customizable to you and whatever dried fruit or nuts you might have in your pantry. I love the apricot cranberry pecan bread flavors here, but it would be utterly delightful with cherries and walnuts.
This recipe has been fun to make in between all of the endless feedings, nap times, chores, and toddler wrangling since we brought Harrison home. It is a forgiving dough, and spacing out all of the folding and resting periods make this not feel quite so daunting, like you have to keep an eagle eye over it, which is a relief.
I highly suggest you slice this apricot cranberry pecan bread up for breakfast, toast it and slather it in butter. It goes wonderfully next to your cup of coffee or tea.
Apricot Cranberry Pecan Bread
Biga – Pre-fermented Starter
- 1 1/4 cup All Purpose Flour (150g)
- 1/2 cup Water (115g) – Filtered best, but tap is fine
- 1/4 tsp Instant Rise Yeast
- All of Biga
- 3/4 (170g) Water, filtered best
- 2 1/4 cups (270g) All Purpose Flour
- 1 1/2 tsp Salt
- 1/2 tsp Instant Rise Yeast
- 1/2 cup diced Dried Apricots
- 1/2 cup chopped Dried Cranberries
- 3/4 cup chopped Pecans (toasted is great, but it’s okay if you don’t toast them, too)
- 1 Egg + 2 Tbsp Water for Egg Wash
In a quart mason jar, or medium mixing bowl, combine all ingredients for the biga and stir together to create a shaggy dough. Make sure as much of the flour is incorporated as possible, it will be a very thick dough. Cover and set aside at room temperature to rise and pre-ferment, between 12-36 hours.
Bread Dough –
In a stand mixer with a dough hook attachment knead together the biga, water, flour, salt, and yeast to create the dough. Knead until the dough is smooth and pulls away from the sides and bottom of the bowl. Knead for about 5 minutes, or so for this stage.
Add in the dried fruit and pecans to the bowl, and continue to knead until mostly incorporated. (I needed to hand knead the dough to ensure that the fruits and nuts were incorporated evenly into the dough. If you need to do this, sprinkle a clean work surface, or silicone baking sheet lightly with flour and knead by hand.)
Place the dough into a lightly greased bowl, and cover with plastic wrap. Allow to rise for 30-45 minutes, or until nearly doubled. After this time pull and fold the dough by pulling the edges of the dough into the center and pressing down. This will create the gluten. Repeat this process again FOUR times total, after 30-45 minutes rest period in between.
Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Shape the dough into a taut ball (boule), and place it seam side down onto a parchment lined baking sheet. Allow the dough to rise one final time for about 45 minutes.
Just prior to baking, brush the dough with the egg wash, and score the bread with a very sharp knife, razor, or bread lame to create a 1/2″ deep cut along the top of the dough.
Reduce heat to 425 in the oven, and bake for 15 minutes.
Further reduce the heat in the oven to 375 degrees, and bake for 25-30 minutes, or until the bread reaches an internal temperature of 195. Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely on a wire baking rack before you slice it.
Slice, toast, and slather in butter.
Reduce the heat on the oven to 425 degrees, and
Adapted from King Arthur Flour’s Apricot Cranberry Pecan Bread catalog recipe