I have a weakness for bread. Unfortunately, I don’t have very much patience for the process, especially when I’m working with old school yeast–not the easy instant yeast that has proven in the past to be more reliable. It didn’t help either, that coastal clouds hid the sun until about 2 in the afternoon. Needless to say, making the dough rise this time around was more challenging that the time I made bagels. Now that I’ve been home for a couple days, I’ve kind of missed having raw ingredients or hot food laid out buffet-style. One of the things I miss in particular, is this cranberry-apricot and some kind of nut (think it’s walnuts?) bread that the dining hall gets from some local bread bakery. I say it like that’s a fact–I don’t know maybe Yale dining bakes that bread itself. Either way, it was a concept that was largely unfamiliar to me until I came to college. Fruit in bread? Weird. Jam on bread, yeah that was right.
This purpose of this post is mostly to say that I have changed my snobbishly wrong bread ways. Wonderbread, the hero of my youth, is no longer my anointed loaf of choice. No, now that I have been spoiled with the knowledge of whole wheat, flaxseed, and oat breads, I happily note that there is no going back. It’s been a gradual change, but over the last couple of years, health nuts and The Biggest Loser have convinced me that fluffy, spongy, white air does not a good bread make. And so, now that my mind has been properly rehabilitated, I have trained my tastebuds and my mind to love what I already liked: whole wheat loaves.
I raced to Sprouts yesterday, a grocery store where you can buy various organic flours, nuts, and dried fruits in bulk, amongst other delicious things. I missed that weird, yet delicious, and probably typical circular loaf that was available in my dining hall. I only made half as much as the original recipe, which I modified from the recipe on the back of my 5-lb. bag of King Arthur’s Flour, since I wasn’t sure how it would turn out. I think the only thing I would change is the yeast I used–I’m not a huge fan of anguish. For about an hour there I wasn’t sure my dough would rise at all.
Recipe (modified from King Arthur Flour’s Whole Wheat Walnut Loaf, makes 2):
- 2 teaspoons instant yeast
- 1 1/3 cups lukewarm water
- 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
- 2 tablespoons brown sugar
- 3 cups white whole wheat flour
- 1 1/4 teaspoons salt
- 3/4 cups dried cranberries (reconstituted in 1 cup water)
- 6-8 dried apricots
- Combine all of the ingredients in a bowl. Mix and knead until the dough is smooth. Cover the bowl and allow the dough to rise for 1 to 2 hours until it’s doubled in bulk.
- Punch the dough down, and knead the cranberries and apricots into the dough. Let it rise a second time, for about 45 minutes. After it has risen cut the top across and vertically, being careful not to go more than 1/4 inch deep. That’ll give you a good artisanal look.
- BAKING – Remove the plastic wrap and bake the bread in a preheated 350*F oven for 35 to 40 minutes until it’s golden brown. An instant-read thermometer inserted into the center will register 190*F. Remove it from the oven and turn it out of the pan to cool on a rack.
*note: I didn’t use instant yeast, I used the traditional, so the directions are a little different. Salt kills yeast, so I added the dry ingredients after proofing it with the warm water and sugar for about 5 minutes.