Cranberry and Fennel French Loaves


Preparation info

  • Difficulty


  • Makes



Appears in

The Mountain Cafe Cookbook

The Mountain Cafe Cookbook

By Kirsten Gilmour

Published 2017

  • About

This is the kind of bread that once you start eating, you can’t stop… You have been warned! You can add anything to this bread, not just cranberries and fennel seeds. Apricot and poppy seeds are really good, or we sometimes crumble in some cooked black pudding with chopped sage.


  • 230 ml warm water
  • 330 g plain strong flour
  • 12 g dried active yeast
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 75 g dried cranberries
  • 1 tablespoon fennel seeds


Place your water into a large mixing bowl and add your flour, yeast, salt, sugar, dried cranberries and fennel seeds. Mix with your hand for about 10 minutes until you have smooth dough. Place into a clean, well-oiled bowl and cover with a damp clean tea towel, then leave to rest at room temperature.

After 30 minutes, wet your hands with water and slide them underneath the dough on the far side of the bowl. Stretch the dough up and towards you. Do the same with the dough nearest you, stretching it up and towards the far side of the bowl. This is called ‘putting a fold’ into the dough. Cover again and leave for another 30 minutes. Repeat the folding process, cover, and leave for 20 minutes.

Tip the dough out onto a well-floured worktop and shape it into a smooth, round loaf. Place it onto a greased and floured baking tray or into a cloth-lined proving basket and cover with the damp tea towel. Leave to prove for one hour.

Preheat your oven to 200°C (180°C fan). Just before you put your bread in the oven, open the oven door and spray about five squirts of water inside to create some steam. Put in your bread and give the oven another spray after five minutes – be careful not to spray directly onto the bread, but onto the walls of the oven.

After five more minutes, spray again, then bake for another 10 to 15 minutes until the bread is golden brown. The total breaking time is 20 to 25 minutes. Leave to cool on a wire rack.