Cherry-Hazelnut (Yeast) Bread

By fiveandspice
November 30, 2013

Author Notes: This bread is inspired by and adapted from Joanne Chang's fabulous raisin-pecan rolls at Flour Bakery in Boston, a recipe for which is in her first cookbook. They're lightly sweet and absolutely jam-packed with fruits and nuts. I particularly like the combination of cherries and hazelnuts and think this bread makes amazing toast for breakfast. It's amazing with gjetost (Norwegian goat cheese).fiveandspice

Makes: 2 8-inch loaves

Cherry hazelnut bread

  • 1 1/4 cups (300 grams) lukewarm water
  • 3 3/4 cups (540 grams) all-purpose flour
  • 12 ounces (340 grams) bread sponge (below) OR recently fed sourdough starter
  • 1/4 cup (85 grams) honey
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 cup (100 grams) chopped, toasted hazelnuts
  • 3/4 cup (120 grams) dried tart cherries
  • medium-coarse yellow cornmeal for the baking sheet, if using
  1. In a stand mixer fitted with the bread hook, stir together the water and flour just until they are mixed together into a shaggy mess. Cover the bowl and let it stand for 10-20 minutes (this is called an autolyse).
  2. Add the honey, salt, and sponge/sourdough starter, and mix on medium-low speed for 3-4 minutes, until smooth. At this point, if you pinch the dough it should feel supple but still somewhat sticky - a bit like wallpaper paste. If it seems too stiff add a few Tbs. of water, if too sticky add a few Tbs. flour. Add the hazelnuts and cherries and mix on low speed for 4-5 minutes, stopping to pull the dough off the hook as needed. (If kneading by hand, knead on a floured surface for 4-5 minutes before adding the nuts and cherries, then 5-6 minutes after). Transfer the dough to an oiled bowl, turn the dough to coat, and cover the bowl with plastic wrap or a damp kitchen cloth.
  3. Let the dough rise in a warm place (around 80F is ideal) for 2-3 hours. The dough will rise only a small amount and should feel loose and still somewhat sticky. At this point, turn the dough out onto a floured surface and divide it into two equal portions. Shape each half into a ball and flour their surfaces well. At this point, transfer the two loaves to bannetons or onto a baking sheet sprinkled with a good amount of cornmeal for rising. (At this point you can also refrigerate the loaves overnight and then take them out the next day for the second rise and baking.)
  4. Cover the loaves with plastic wrap and allow them to rise at room temperature for another 3 hours (they still won't puff up much, but they will seem like the dough has relaxed).
  5. Heat your oven to 450F and place a Dutch oven with a lid in the oven to heat with it. When the oven has heated, remove the Dutch oven and transfer one of the loaves into it, cover and place in the oven. Bake covered for 20 minutes, then remove the cover and continue to bake until deeply brown and crusty, 20-30 minutes more. Remove from the oven and repeat to bake the second loaf.
  6. Alternatively, heat your oven to 450F with a heat proof non-breakable baking dish on the lowest rack. Place the baking sheet with the loaves into the oven and throw 2 cups of water into the pre-heated baking pan, then quickly shut the oven door to keep the steam in. Bake for 35-45 minutes, until the loaves are deeply golden brown on top. Allow the bread to cool completely before slicing.
  7. Loaves freeze well wrapped tightly. Then just let them defrost and you'll be ready for slicing and toasting.

Bread sponge

  • 3/4 cup (180 g) water
  • 1 1/4 cups (175 g) all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon active dry yeast
  1. Stir together 1 cup of the flour (140 g) with the water and yeast until well mixed. Cover and leave at room temperature for 4-8 hours. Then stir in the remaining flour. Cover again and leave in the refrigerator overnight before using.

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Reviews (31) Questions (2)


Brenda W. January 30, 2017
Oh no! I was so excited to try this bread and I followed the instructions very carefully, even weighing out all my ingredients. I started it on Friday, making the dough sponge. Saturday I finished the sponge and let it sit all night in the fridge. Sunday I did the first rise, then wrapped the two balls in plastic wrap and left them in the fridge overnight. This afternoon I brought out the first ball and let it have three hours in an ever-so-slightly warmed oven (the kitchen was cold) then baked it in the dutch oven I have (a larger 5 quart one). When I took the lid off after 20 minutes it was already really brown on top and not rising very well at all. I cut the rest of the baking time short, but still when I pulled it out it was burned on the bottom (you have to cut it off as it is not even edible) and it looks like a slightly puffed up hockey puck. I am really disappointed! I also found that the taste is not all that great unless you hit a bit of the sweet cherry. I really want to like this recipe. Any ideas what went wrong? I'm in Denver so technically high-altitude, but nothing really severe like the mountains and I don't think I've had to make adjustments to yeast bread before. I have not baked the second loaf yet and would like to see if I can do something to make that one better.
N. J. March 25, 2017
Hi Brenda, I made the recipe 2 weeks ago and it came out great. My Dutch oven is a smaller size than yours so maybe that was the why it baked so quickly and burned on the bottom (?). My first loaf was a bit darker on the bottom than I liked so I moved the oven rack one level up and used one of my insulated cookie baking sheets under the Dutch oven and that did the trick. It is a lovely bread and I hope you have success if you try it again.
N. J. March 25, 2017
Hi again Brenda, I checked the size of my dutch oven. It is 3 quarts.
Tracy February 24, 2015
Has anyone baked this bread on a stone instead of in a dutch oven? How did it turn out??
sarahepardee February 11, 2015
Do I need to grease/ use semolina/ cornmeal in my dutch oven when preheating/ baking the loaves? I know it's kind of a silly question, but I made bread in it once before and it stuck very badly. Maybe that is avoided if the dutch oven is preheated?
Aileen July 19, 2014
Is there any way of substituting some of the flour for whole wheat flour? Or would the dough become too dense and tough?
Author Comment
fiveandspice July 19, 2014
I'm guessing you could sub up to about half of the flour with whole wheat and still get good results, especially if you use something like a white whole wheat that's a little less heavy. If you try it, let us know how it goes!
Bee671 February 7, 2014
So delicious!! Had to restrain myself and husband from eating an entire loaf in one sitting. I substituted dark chocolate for the hazelnuts...yummy! Next time I'd add a touch more salt, otherwise perfection! Thanks for the great recipe.
Author Comment
fiveandspice February 8, 2014
So glad! And dark chocolate? Yum!!!!