Interested in making freshly-baked bread at home?
Please note that this review was not paid for or sponsored by any third party. I purchased this product with my own money and the opinions in this review are strictly my own. I am not affiliated with Costco or any of its suppliers. I am just a fan of the company. I write these reviews to help my fellow shoppers.
I’ve seen The Essential Baking Company Cranberry Walnut Loaf at Costco for a while and been intrigued by the concept of pre-made bread that you can bake fresh at your leisure. It seemed like a great way to serve your guests fresh bread if you’re hosting a holiday brunch. I suppose it might work for other meals too, but the cranberry walnut combination seems best suited to breakfast or brunch to me.
The Walnut Cranberry Loaf stays warm for quite a while after it’s been baked. It comes out crusty on the outside and dense on the inside, almost like a bagel. It has a slight natural sweetness to it. The bread is mainly a whole wheat bread, but every time you take a bite of cranberry or walnuts, you get a little tart sweetness or a nutty taste as well. I think the flavors in this bread are pretty much what you’d expect; it delivers what it promises (cranberry and walnut), and there aren’t really any extra flavors going on in the background. Thus, for those who don’t want a super sweet bread and are looking for a natural, hearty bread with a little bit of extra sweetness and texture, it should be perfect. If you’re more a fan of cinnamon raisin bread (like the Costco Cinnamon Raisin bagels), you might find the flavors a bit underwhelming. The box seems to suggest that toasting the bread is the best way to enjoy it, and we did like it better toasted than not. The thick slices of toasted bread with a good amount of butter on them were quite tasty and unique. At first, it didn’t strike me as the most versatile bread, but after thinking about it a bit, I think you could do some interesting things with it beyond just toasting and buttering it. I can imagine serving it alongside a turkey dinner or possibly making an interesting sandwich out of it (probably with turkey!). The box suggests brie or goat cheese, oatmeal and honey and vanilla ice cream as good pairing options.
The three-pack of cranberry walnut loaves was reasonably-priced at $7.50 Canadian when I bought it (that was on sale). The regular price is $10.99 Canadian. At the regular price, this bread isn’t cheap, but it’s not outrageous and is likely a fair amount less than you’d pay for three similar loaves at your local bakery. I think you’re also paying for the packaging, which is convenient and allows you to bake your own fresh bread at home whenever you feel like it as opposed to having to go out and buy it fresh from the bakery the day you want to serve it. Maybe you also pay a bit for that amazing smell wafting through your house when you bake it too? That’s worth something to me!
I say The Essential Baking Company Cranberry Walnut Loaf is perfect for a special holiday breakfast or brunch, because the bread comes half-baked and all you have to do is pop it in the oven for a few minutes to get freshly baked, warm bread (and some nice aromas in your kitchen as well!). You get the best of both worlds with this bread, convenience mixed with a homemade feel. In that sense, this bread is extremely convenient as each loaf is separately vacuum sealed and the best before date is quite far away (so if you can’t see yourself eating three loaves of cranberry walnut bread right away, don’t worry; you can let it sit in your pantry for a while). Obviously baking bread in your oven (even when it comes in a convenient package like this) and slicing it up manually isn’t easy when compared with buying a normal loaf of bread; this product seems to be targeting a very specific niche of people who want a fresh specialty bread, but it serves that niche well.
I really appreciate the ingredients in this bread - I can read them all and understand what they are. None seem out of place in a loaf of bread. The bread is non-GMO and uses organic wheat flour. A slice of this bread is not going to break your calorie bank for the day, and it’s fairly low in sugar, fat and sodium. It also contains a decent amount of protein in each slice. In terms of numbers, a whole loaf contains 990 calories, 13.5 grams of fat, 45 grams of sugar and 27 grams of protein. In my opinion, that’s fairly healthy and reasonable for a loaf like this. You don’t need to panic if you eat the entire loaf by yourself over two days (although if you’re gluten-free, doing the keto diet or allergic to nuts, panicking might be reasonable).
I loved how easily I was able to make fresh, warm bread at home using the Cranberry Walnut Loaf from The Essential Baking Company. I’ve never made bread at home before, so it was a fun experiment. However, the taste didn’t exactly blow me away or convince me to buy it again. If you love homemade, fresh bread or the cranberry/walnut combo (or better yet both), I would recommend this bread to you. If that sounds like a very specific person/niche to you, I agree; I don’t see this bread as having mass appeal. For most of you, I suspect you’ll agree with me that the smell in your kitchen during baking is the best part.
What's your favorite kind of bread and what do you like to put on it?