Recently we had a student ask us to develop a recipe based on Wegman's Marathon Bread, which she quite enjoys. And having been a student in one of Martha Levie's free sourdough classes, she turned to us to see if we could develop something similar to their Marathon Bread but using 100% sourdough. And though we do not make anything like this, we could develop one in of our test kitchens, which turned out to be mine this time.
So after a quick search on the internet, I found a few options. However, most lacked Wegman's signature ingredients which include fruit and vegetables, (cranberries, dried bananas, diced apples, and shredded organic carrots)! And then there is a load of organic seeds, including flax, pumpkin, sesame, and sunflower along with a mix of organic wheat, rye, spelt, and stone ground whole wheat flours. (This is clearly a runner's loaf of bread, loaded with complex carbohydrates and fuel for long runs.)
All of this started when the student mentioned above, who lives in upper state New York, asked Wegman's for the recipe. The store declined her request, so the challenge came our way.
But even if they had given her the recipe, she would have had to convert it to 100% Sourdough because Wegman's uses yeast with a sourdough culture in their bread. This is a common practice that allows any bakery to claim their products are sourdough.
But if you are looking for REAL™ Sourdough bread, it ought to use just sourdough starter as the leavening. And it should have at least an 8 hour ferment to help mitigate the gluten, build flavor, and release the full nutrition of the whole grains in the bread.
But once we took a good look at Wegman's ingredient list we recognized that our own Sourdough Steiner Brot and Cynthia’s Cranberry and Almond Sourdough recipes could be combined to make this recipe work. However after a few attempts we realized that there were too many mix-ins, so we added more flour and cut back other ingredients.
Though it is not a perfect this is our best Copycat Recipe sourdough version:
Cranberry Seeded Marathon Bread Recipe
- 120g/½cup Sourdough Starter
- 600g/5 cups REAL™ Whole Wheat and/or Spelt Flour (e.g. you can use 2½ cups each)
- 400g/3 cups Bread or All-purpose flour
- 120g/1 cup Rye Flour (or optional: 125g/1¼cups Rye Bread Crumbs added to the soaker below)
- 720g/3 cups REAL™ Water
- 240g/1 cups boiling water
- 65g/½ cup dried cranberries
- 45g/ ¼ cup grated carrots
- 36g/½ cup banana chips
- 36g/½ cup dried diced apples
- 30g/⅓ cup rolled oats
- 30g/⅓ cup rye chops or cracked wheat
- 20g/1.5 Tbsp olive or coconut oil
- 15g/½ Tbsp each sunflower, sesame, flax, millet, and pumpkin seeds
- 20g/1 Tbsp+1tsp REAL™ Salt
- 14g/2 Tbsp honey
- Four hours before mixing, feed your starter with enough flour and water to make 120g (or half a cup) more starter than you began with.
- Meanwhile, boil two cups of water. Place this hot water in a separate container and stir in all the soaker ingredients. (NOTE: do not keep this in a pan on the stove, but let it start hot and cool naturally on a counter.)
- After 4 hours, check the starter to see if it has doubled, is bubbly, and a small spoonful will float in water. If not, allow it to ferment longer until it is active.
- Also, check the soaker temperature to make sure that it is no warmer than 85°F/30°C, then place this mixture into the bowl of a stand mixer (or another bowl if mixing by hand).
- Stir in the remaining cup of room-temperature water.
- Place the dough hook on the mixer and set it on the slowest speed while you add the starter and all the flours listed above, (if doing this by hand, work to incorporate all the dry ingredients until there is nothing dry remaining; then let this sit for a 30-minute rest).
- Turn the mixer to medium speed and let it run for 6–8 minutes or until the dough has pulled away from the sides of the mixing bowl.
- Then wet your hands, remove the dough from the bowl, and use the slap and fold method (see how on YouTube) to strengthen the dough for 4–5 minutes. As you work the dough it will become smooth, elastic, and starts to hold its shape.
- Then put this into a covered container for 3 hours of bulk fermentation. However, during the first 90 minutes, do 3 sets of stretches and folds (see how on YouTube) at 30 minutes intervals.
- After 3 hours, divide and pre-shape the dough to fit into your bread pan (see how on YouTube). This can be placed directly into the baking pan or if you have them, into proofing baskets for a long, cold proofing overnight.
- Place these in large plastic bags before putting them in the fridge so that they do not dry out.
- An hour before baking, preheat your oven to 450°F/230°C with one rack in the middle and one moved to the bottom third of your oven for your steam pan, (preheat this pan with the oven).
- When you are ready to bake, prepare a cup of boiling water for the steam pan.
- Score the bread down the middle, and place the loaves in the hot oven.
- Immediately add the boiling water and close the oven door.
- Bake this for 20–25 minutes.
- Then vent the steam and remove the steam pan from the oven.
- Reduce the oven heat to 375°F/190°C and continue to bake the loaves for 30–35 more minutes, or until the internal dough temperature is 200-205°F/93–96°C. The loaf will be a golden brown, sound hollow when thumped on the bottom, and the crust will have a crackling-crunchy sound when squeezed.
We found this hearty loaf amazing all by itself, but butter or cream cheese are excellent companions for a piece of toast at breakfast. And for lunch, this bread makes absolutely delicious turkey sandwiches.
If you try this recipe, let us know in the comment section below how it turned out.
Author: Darryl Alder lives with his wife in Riverside Lodge, which is their home, along the Provo River in Utah. Together they adopted and raised four children, all of whom are now adults. He is a retired career Boy Scouter and outdoorsman who spent many hours over a campfire using a Dutch oven and loves sharing recipes for the kitchen and the campfire alike. You can read many of his recipes on this site by searching for Sourdough Saturday or Recipes on this blog and at YourSourdoughStart.com.