Crusty Apple Cranberry Dutch Oven Bread

Crusty loaf of whole wheat bread cut partially into slices on a cutting board

Cooler weather calls for some comforting scents and flavors. This Crusty Apple Cranberry Bread made in a dutch oven is delicious and perfect toasted with a lil’ pad of butter.

Loaf of whole wheat bread cut partially into slices on a cutting board with text reading "Crusty Apple Cranberry Dutch Oven Bread"

Since I’ve been baking more bread this year – and not just sourdough – I’ve been trying many recipes out to see which I prefer. For a while I was making whole wheat bread in my bread machine almost exclusively (it’s so handy!). But, I bought a vintage dutch oven and thought I’d give crusty whole wheat a go!

I came across Bigger Bolder Baking’s 5-ingredient recipe, and it’s SO good! I made a few times, and even experimented with fillings, so that Corey could have sandwich bread while I had a snacking loaf. LOL. Then, I took it in a slightly different direction in terms of procedure and measurements and just had to share this Apple Cranberry version with you!

Flours, apple, pecans, craisins, water, and more, in ramekins on a cutting board

Do I need a Dutch oven for this?

Ideally, yes. I do feel that you get the best result in the dutch oven because of how it holds the heat in. BUT, as Gemma’s (BBB) recipe shows, it can definitely be done on a baking sheet. You will just need to adjust the baking temperature to 400F and pay attention to the baking time, though it will be similar. And it will probably be a lower and wider loaf than if baked in the Dutch oven.

Now, my dutch oven (well, the one I used here) is oval in shape, so I shaped my loaf a bit more oblong. If you have a circular dutch oven, your end shape should look more like a boule, but the baking times are pretty much the same. In the end, your crust should be nice and brown, and the inner temperature of the loaf should be at least 190F.

Image collage of process of making whole wheat bread dough base

Ingredient Substitutions + Tips

Note: I have not tried all of these subs, but these suggestions are based on my experience.

  • Whole wheat flour – I feel as though most coarse, whole grain flours will work great here, you will just need to be mindful of hydration and use less or add more water as necessary.
  • Unbleached all-purpose flour – bread flour will also work.
  • Instant yeast – you can also active dry yeast, but need to be mindful of quantity and rising times. Epicurious has a thorough write up on how to switch out yeasts.
  • Agave nectar – maple syrup or cane sugar will also work. But, definitely do not omit it, as the yeast will not thrive the same without.
  • Apples – I use pink/yellow apples like fuji and gala (my favorites), but you can work with your preferred apple. Slightly firm pears will also work for this!
  • Pecans – if you avoid nuts, simply substitute with sunflower or pumpkin seeds. If you’re not avoiding nuts but don’t have pecans, walnuts will also work.
  • Dried cranberries – any small, dried fruit will also be delicious, but I feel that black or golden raisins will work best if you don’t have craisins.
  • Cane sugar – because this is used in the filling you can use coconut, light brown, or turbinado sugar if preferred.
Image collage of folding apples, fruit, and nuts into whole wheat dough

Serving Ideas

Now, I love to go simple with this bread by toasting up a slice and spreading a little vegan butter over it. Truly, so damn good. But, it’s also great with almond or peanut butter plus an extra sprinkle of cinnamon, and thinly sliced apples. That combo makes for a well-rounded breakfast toast!

Other slightly out-of-the-box ideas for this bread would be to make some French Toast, or maybe cube some of it and toast it to add to a fall salad, panzanella-style!

Crusty loaf of whole wheat bread cut partially into slices on a cutting board
Crusty loaf of whole wheat bread cut partially into slices on a cutting board

Crusty Apple Cranberry Dutch Oven Bread

Yield: 2-pound loaf
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 50 minutes
Proofing Time: 8 hours
Total Time: 9 hours 5 minutes

Cooler weather calls for some comforting scents and flavors. This Crusty Apple Cranberry Bread made in a dutch oven is delicious and perfect toasted with a lil' pad of vegan butter.

Ingredients

  • 2 cups (273 g) whole wheat flour
  • 2 cups (277 g) all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons sea salt
  • 3/4 teaspoon instant yeast
  • 1 1/2 cups (355 ml) warm water (under 105F)
  • 2 tablespoons (30 ml) agave nectar
  • 1 tablespoon (15 g) cane sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 cup (118 g) diced pink/yellow apples, like gala or fuji
  • 1/2 cup (60 g) dried cranberries
  • 1/2 cup (55 g) diced pecans

Instructions

  1. In a large mixing bowl, combine whole wheat flour, all-purpose flour, salt, and instant yeast until well-mixed. Next, whisk warm water and agave nectar together until agave dissolves, then add it to the flour mixture.
  2. Knead by hand for roughly 2 minutes, until there are no dry pockets, and the dough is pulling extra flour clean from the sides of the bowl. When first kneading the mixture will seem a bit dry, but will get stickier as you knead. Cover bowl with a large plate, silicone cover, etc. and store somewhere warm for the first proofing.
  3. For this, if my kitchen is under 75F (24C), I turn on my oven light and store the bowl in there (temp is typically 80F or 27C), to expedite the rise. Once the loaf has doubled in size, which will take anywhere from 6 to 10 hours depending on the temperature, remove the covering.
  4. Dust your work surface with flour, and punch the air out of the dough. Fold the dough over itself a few times, then spread it out to roughly 10 x 12 inches (25 x 30 cm). Sprinkle the sugar and cinnamon over the top, then spread the apples, cranberries, and pecans over the surface, evenly distributed.
  5. Roll the dough tightly, starting from a 10-inch (25 cm) side, then roll the tube into a spiral, shaping it into a boule, or oval shape as shown in the pictures. The shape will depend on the shape of your Dutch oven. Line a very large bowl or deep baking dish with parchment paper and place the shaped dough on it for its second proofing.
  6. Again, store in a warm area with something over the top, and let rise until doubled in size again - roughly 60 to 90 minutes. In the last 20 minutes of the rise, preheat your oven to 425F (218C or gas mark 7), with the dutch oven inside.
  7. Once risen, score a line down the middle of the loaf to allow for expansion, then carefully lift the loaf out of the proofing container by the parchment paper and drop it into your dutch oven. Cover with lid and bake for 25 minutes, then remove lid and bake for an additional 25 to 30 minutes, or until brown and has an internal temperature of at least 190F (90C).
  8. After the loaf has baked, remove from the dutch oven and place on a cooling rack. Refrain from slicing into it until it has reached room temperature (this may take a couple hours). Once cooled, store in at room temperature, in a bag for up to 4 days, or in the refrigerator for up to two weeks. You can also freeze half for later (in an airtight bag) if need be!

Notes

  • Unbleached all-purpose flour – bread flour will also work.
  • Instant yeast – you can also active dry yeast, but need to be mindful of quantity and rising times.
  • Agave nectar – maple syrup or cane sugar will also work. But, definitely do not omit it, as the yeast will not thrive the same without.
  • Apples – I use pink/yellow apples like fuji and gala (my favorites), but you can work with your preferred apple. Slightly firm pears will also work for this!
  • Pecans – if you avoid nuts, simply substitute with sunflower or pumpkin seeds.
  • Cane sugar – because this is used in the filling you can use coconut, light brown, or turbinado sugar if preferred.

Nutrition Information:
Yield: 14 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving:Calories: 156Total Fat: 0gSaturated Fat: 0gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 0gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 191mgCarbohydrates: 34gFiber: 2gSugar: 4gProtein: 4g

The nutrition information is calculated by a plug-in, and isn't always accurate. Please calculate your own with the products that you use, as it will be different for everyone.

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Crusty loaf of whole wheat bread cut partially into slices on a cutting board

Oh, and happy November, everyone! <3

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