If there is one thing that makes my mouth water, stomach grumble and gets me thinking of the holidays… It is our Cranberry Pecan bread.
Yes, seriously. I am a crazed, obsessed lover of cranberry pecan bread. And I know I am not alone. This bread is an absolute favorite of long-time Zingerman’s customers, as well as the ones who have had the opportunity to try this incredible loaf at one of the three points throughout the year we bake it.
Now, what exactly makes this loaf so incredible (other than the fact you can only get it, collectively, less than a few months out of the year)? It is hand fulls of sweet-tart dried cranberries and toasty pecan pieces held together by a small amount of naturally leavened bread. I’m not exaggerating. We stuff a half pound cranberries and pecans into each and every loaf.
When you see it, sitting there on the shelf, it looks petite, deep golden brown and bumpy. Well, those are pecans jutting out from the crust. When you look closely, you can sometimes see a whole pecan peeking out. When you slice into it you’ll see the crumb, itself, is a very faint purple- tinted by those ruby red cranberries.
Fresh from the ovens (or directly out of the toaster), you can truly smell the toasty pecans and warmed cranberries. It is this mix of sweet and toasty that has left a permanent stamp in my mind. And it is that smell that comes to mind every time I picture myself biting into a delightful slice of this bread.
As for the taste, it has a rich nutty flavor from the pecans when you take your initial bite. But that is quickly followed by the chewy sweetness and surprising tang of the cranberries and the sourdough bread of its base. I am in need of a slice right now as I type.
Some regulars at Zingerman’s Roadshow who typically get our tried and true Pecan Raisin bread loaves or toast immediately switch over to the Cranberry Pecan come November. They plan out their schedules and get ready because, come November 1st, there they are in the drive-through line, asking for the Cranberry Pecan.
There is this funny thing that happens every year in the Bakeshop, as well. Bakehouse Marketing Manager Sara shares her experience with this when she worked in the shop:
“When I worked in our Bakeshop, I always remember this funny phenomenon. We would put out samples of cranberry pecan bread at the register. Customers would come in to buy their usual daily bread, like rye or farm, and while they were paying would pop a piece of cranberry pecan bread in their mouth. They’d head on their merry way and get out to the car door, turn around and come right back in the store. ‘What was that bread I just ate?’ they’d ask. Usually followed by ‘I’ll take one.’ It happened every day. This is powerful stuff!”
The freezer technique
People have also been known to buy enough loaves to fill their freezer and then slowly pull one out at a time, perfectly spaced, so they can enjoy it consistently throughout the year. Bakeshop assistant manager, Crystal, does this, too!
She shared, “I personally love eating the Cranberry Pecan toasted with butter and a healthy sprinkle of cinnamon sugar. I’ve been known to stock my freezer full of it during November and December, so that I could gift it to family for the holidays.”
And she’s not the only one (and I don’t just mean me).
Where can you get it?
During November and December (and the two weekends when the bread makes a reappearance), the Roadshow begins offering the long-awaited Curry Chicken Salad Sandwich. Two slices of toasted cranberry pecan bread, a heaping of housemade curry chicken salad and a bit of spinach.
But, wait! That’s not all… Zingerman’s Mail Order sells it, too. So, yes, you can ship the loaf across the country to your family (or yourself, we would be guilty of that).
Well, here’s my recommendation. Cut a couple slices, pop ‘em in the toaster, butter them. Breakfast is served!
It is also phenomenal toasted with a schmear of cream cheese (and of course I recommend the award-winning cream cheese from our neighbors over at Zingerman’s Creamery).
It makes a tasty, unique gift that will have everyone singing your praises after the holiday season. And it is a fun bread to pass at any dinner. It can make your roast turkey sandwich more festive and flavorful, or liven up your stuffing recipe. Pair it with goat cheese for a new take on a traditional appetizer.
By Natasha Mason, Zingerman’s Bakehouse