This is one of those recipes that seemed like a good idea in our imagination, so we tried it and liked it and the final product was darned close to what we'd envisioned. What a mouthful! Dense and hearty, very pretty (the dough and the loaves), and jam-packed with chewy, earthy wild rice, crunchy toasted pecan pieces and tart-sweet bursts of dried cranberry, it's a good keeper and pairs well with velvety mushroom or creamy chicken and rice soup; it makes interesting cheese sandwiches and out-of-the-ordinary breakfast toast, too. We hope you'll find a place for it in your bread repertoire.
1/2 cup (3 1/2 ounces) sourdough starter
1 1/4 cups (10 ounces) lukewarm water
2 tablespoons (1 1/4 ounces) honey
1 cup (4 ounces) King Arthur 100% White Whole Wheat Flour
1 1/2 teaspoons instant or active dry yeast
2 teaspoons salt
3 1/2 cups (14 3/4 ounces) King Arthur Unbleached Bread Flour*
2 cups lightly packed, cooked wild rice
1 1/2 cups (5 3/4 ounces) pecans, lightly toasted* and coarsely chopped
1 cup (5 ounces) dried cranberries
*In response to customer feedback, the amount of bread flour in this recipe has been reduced by 1/2 cup, as of 4/22/14.
*Toast pecans on an ungreased baking sheet at 350°F for 5 to 8 minutes, or just until they start to darken.

Mix together the sourdough starter, water, honey, whole wheat flour and yeast in a glass or ceramic bowl, beat until very smooth, cover, and let sit for 1 to 2 hours, or until this sponge is very bubbly.

Transfer the sponge to the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the salt into the sponge, then gradually add the bread flour, beating to combine. Switch to the dough hook, and knead for about 8 minutes on medium speed. At the end of this time, the dough should be cohesive and on the slack side, but not extremely sticky. Try to have the dough at this consistency before proceeding.

Knead in the wild rice, pecans and cranberries. If you have trouble getting all these "extras" into the dough, knead the stubborn ones in by hand. Place the dough in a lightly greased bowl, cover, and set aside to rise until doubled in size, about 1 1/2 hours.

Bread Machine Method: You can make the dough for this bread in your bread machine but you must cut all of the ingredient amounts in half. Use the Dough or Manual mode to make first a sponge, then the dough, adding the wild rice, pecans and cranberries towards the end of the second kneading cycle. Allow the dough to rise in the machine till it's doubled in size, however long this takes, then proceed as follows, making just one loaf instead of two.

Gently deflate the dough, divide it in half, and shape each piece into a round. Place the rounds into two well-floured 9 1/2-inch round lined bannetons, or well-floured 9-inch bowls, cover, and let rise again, this time until not quite doubled in size, 45 minutes to 1 hour.

Transfer the rounds to a cornmeal-sprinkled or parchment-lined baking sheet and bake in a preheated 425°F oven for 15 minutes. Turn the oven down to 375°F and bake for a further 20 to 25 minutes, or until an instant-read thermometer inserted in the center of the loaves registers 190°F. Yield: 2 loaves, 14 slices per loaf.
Nutrition information per serving (1 slice, 58g): 143 cal, 3.9g fat, 3g protein, 22g complex carbohydrates, 1g sugar, 2g dietary fiber, 186mg sodium, 109mg potassium, 14RE vitamin A, 1mg iron, 39mg calcium, 63mg phosphorus.