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Steve’s Cranberry Red Walnut Bread

By Cheryl Forberg
Image of Cranberry Red Walnut Bread
Have you ever tried Costco’s Cranberry Walnut bread? To my dismay, I recently learned this crowd-pleaser is only a seasonal thing. I didn’t connect that I’ve only had it while visiting my sister Karen and brother-in-law, Steve, in Florida over the holidays. Steve was from Wales and loved teatime AND sandwiches of all kinds. Steve was a huge aficionado of Costco’s Cranberry Walnut bread. There was always a loaf of it on the counter, it seemed. (The bakery at their local Publix grocery store also carried the bread, but they usually ran out before noon). Anyway, we always had the bread while visiting them, and we fell in love with it too. Toasted, French toasted, sandwiches with leftover turkey, or just plain with butter – we love this bread.

This Christmas, we were home in California, and I was thrilled to see a display of warm fragrant CRANBERRY WALNUT loaves at our local Costco during the holidays. We stocked up. But this week when I returned for more, I learned that it is only made during the holidays. I knew immediately that I was not going to wait eleven months to have it again. I looked online and actually found a few copycat recipes, but I didn’t think they sounded right. They all seemed to be quick bread recipes, using too much sugar, or they used baking soda and/or baking powder as a leavener. I was pretty sure the real thing is a yeast bread.

I looked up a whole grain bread recipe in one of my first cookbooks and remembered that its taste and texture was the same as the bread I was craving, without the addition of dried cranberries and walnuts. So, I made a few tweaks to my old recipe, and I think I nailed it.

Sadly, I never got to make Cranberry Walnut bread for Steve, who passed away before the holidays. I know we’ll think of him every time we taste it. I hope you’ll love it too.

Steve’s Cranberry Red Walnut Bread
It’s easy to find delicious high fiber whole grain baked goods, but nothing beats the taste (or smell) of freshly baked bread.

1 ½ cups warm water
¼ cup olive oil
2 tablespoons Melissa’s agave nectar or honey
2 packages active dry yeast (1 package is 7 grams or 2 ½ teaspoons)
4 ½ cups whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 – 1 ½ cups Melissa’s red walnuts, chopped
1 – 1 ½ cups Melissa’s dried cranberries, chopped

For pan:
2 teaspoons stone ground cornmeal

Image of oil, water, yeast and agave in a mixing bowl
In a large bowl, combine the water oil, sweetener, and yeast. Allow to rest for 5 minutes to activate the yeast.
Image of dried cranberries, flour and oil mixture in a mixing bowl
Add flour, salt, nuts, and fruit. Knead for 5 minutes. Place in a lightly oiled mixed bowl, cover and let rise for 1 hour or until doubled.
Image of mixing dough
Uncover the bowl and punch the dough down. Preheat the oven to 350°F degrees.

Turn dough out onto a lightly floured board and knead gently. Shape into a loaf and place in a lightly oiled 8-inch x 4-inch bread pan that has been dusted with the cornmeal.*

Cover and let rise until doubled; approximately 30 minutes.

Bake the bread for about 35 minutes or until loaf is golden and sounds hollow when thumped on the bottom.

*Alternatively, the dough can be shaped into buns for sandwiches. Divide the dough into 8 pieces. Lightly oil a baking sheet and sprinkle with cornmeal.

Preheat the oven to 400°F degrees.

Roll pieces of dough into balls and flatten into discs approximately 3 ½ inches across. Place on prepared baking sheet. Cover and let rise for 20 minutes or until almost doubled in size. Bake for 12 to 15 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from the oven and cool on racks. When ready to use, split the buns in half horizontally with a serrated bread knife.
Image of Steve’s Cranberry Red Walnut Bread
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