Apple Cranberry Sourdough with Hard Cider

On a recent trip to the US, I discovered Trader Joe’s. Wow! Lots of cool new things to check out. One of them was unsulfured dried apple rings. Of course , I had to grab a couple of packages.

And looking around for ideas, I found a recipe using dried apples, cranberries and hard cider ( I took my last European Peasant Bread recipe adaptation and added/subbed the above ingredients to it. So here goes:


Makes 3 loaves


150 g spelt berries

150 g rye berries

150 g Kamut berries

820 g unbleached flour

50 g freshly ground flax

350 g filtered water

500 g hard cider

23 g Himalayan pink salt

30 g local yogurt

100 g cranberries

75 g dried apples rings

280 g 100% hydration levain (procedure indicated below)

Two nights before:

  1. Mill the kamut, spelt and rye berries separately and sift out the bran to feed the levain. Weigh the bran and set aside. Mine ended up weighing 50 g. Weigh out 90 g of the sifted rye and save for the levain. Put the remainder of the rye and the sifted kamut and spelt in a bowl. Add the unbleached flour and the freshly ground flax. Reserve.

The morning before:

  1. After refreshing my starter 2 or 3 times, I took 15 g of starter and added all of the bran with 50 g of water ?. I let it sit at room temp for about 12 hours.

The night before:

  1. Feed the levain the reserved rye flour and 90 g of water. Let rise overnight. It should have more than doubled by the morning.
  2. Chop the dried apple rings ? . Place the cranberries and chopped apple bits in a bowl and set aside.

Dough procedure:

  1. If the Levain has doubled but you aren’t ready for it, stir it down and let rise again.
  2. Add the water and the hard cider to the flour/flax blend. Mix to a shaggy dough and let sit for about 3 hours.
  3. Add the pink salt, the yogurt and the levain and mix well. I did 100 in bucket folds to make sure everything was well integrated and gluten development was well on its way. The dough tightens up and eventually you can’t really do a stretch but you can fold the dough over itself going around the bucket. The dough smooths out nicely and you can see all of the bran from the levain evenly dispersed throughout the dough. Let the dough ferment at room temp (73F).
  4. Do sets of stretches and folds about 30 minutes apart for the entire span of bulk fermentation. 
  5. Add the fruit ? at the second set of folds. To do this, I placed the dough on the counter and sprinkled about a third of the fruit on top. Then I did letter-folds and sprinkled more fruit on the bare folds as I went along. Finally I did a bunch of slaps and folds to distribute the fruit, and the dough went back into the bucket. Be sure to keep the dough covered so it doesn’t dry out.
  6. When the dough had risen about 25% (4 hours at 73F – dough was really slow for some reason), I placed the dough into the fridge. The dough rested in the fridge for four hours. It didn’t rise much more in the fridge (I think slow was the motto of the day!)
  7. Dump the dough out onto a bare counter. Lightly flour the top of the dough and divide into 3 equal portions of ~850 g. Pre-round the dough with a scraper. 
  8. The dough felt quite firm so I decided to let it rest for at least an hour, hoping to give it some time to gain some airiness. I ended up leaving it for 2 hours when it finally felt just about right.
  9. Shape the dough into boules. Flour the top of the boule, flip it over, pull out the top corners and stick them to the center of the dough. Do the same for the two bottom corners. Then take the points that were formed and overlap them in the middle, rolling from top to bottom. Flip the boule over and use the dough scraper to do tension pulls until you have a nice tight shape. Place seam side down in rice floured bannetons, cover and let rise on the counter at room temp (73F) for an hour. 
  10. Finally put the dough to bed, in the fridge, for the night. By the time I was done, it was 2:30 am. ? I mixed the dough for the autolyse at 10:30 am, and since this dough was moving so slowly, this made for a long day. Good thing I am a night owl to begin with! ?
  11. The next morning, heat the oven to 475F with the dutch ovens inside for at least 45 minutes. Place rounds of parchment paper in the bottom of the pots and gently place the dough seam side up inside. I turn out the dough onto a cornmeal sprinkled counter first, then place it into the pots. The dough was very firm so my expectations of a nice oven spring were dashed. It seems that the softer the dough coming out of the fridge, the better the oven spring.
  12. Cover the pots and bake the loaves at 450 F for 25 minutes, remove the lids (good, not fantastic oven spring), drop the temperature to 425F, and bake for another 22 minutes. I decided to score the second batch of six loaves in the hopes of getting a better ear and rise since the first batch split all over the place on the top. I usually get 2 or 3 cracks which I like but these were a bit much. Well, that didn’t work. They still split all over the place, however, this batch did have somewhat better oven spring. I guess this bread really had a mind of its own! ?

As to the overall slowness of the dough, the day wasn’t particularly warm outside (68F) and it was quite overcast with the occasional rain showers. Someone mentioned that they noticed atmospheric pressure affected the fermentation of their bread and I wonder if this was at play in this case. Last week the dough moved along quite briskly. Mind you it was a completely different recipe but still…

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Post Author: MNS Master