I never thought that I would say this–I kind of miss my dining hall now that I’ve graduated. Not because the food was that great, but because I’ll miss being able to wander in and catch up with people I know (some well, some not). Now I’m going to have to make more of an effort to seek out new friends and stay in touch with older ones. I’ll be in Greenwich, which isn’t too far from Manhattan (it’s about as far as some of Brooklyn is, so I feel ok about living 40 minutes out from the city). Having my own space will be good–I’m pretty good at taking care of myself. Except when it comes to bread. I’ve been trying to bake a great loaf of bread forever, but it’s always escaped me. Probably because I rarely ever have the patience to wait for the loaf to rise when it’s cold outside and I was too lazy to really take care of the rising sponge in a low-heat oven. And because whole wheat flour is dense.
I don’t like eating bricks. I like it when bread is fluffy. But I hate wonderbread. I love bread that is crusty on the outside, that makes your house smell like a Tuscan hearth, and warms your heart. And in my bereft state, I needed something to keep me from falling into the abyss of a post-college Netflix addiction and a an immediate future of boredom-induced narcolepsy.
Aside from the people (blah, blah, blah–just kidding), one of the things I miss the most about my dining hall is the fabulous artisanal loaves they would buy from local Connecticut bakeries. One bread in particular–the cranberry/apricot/sunflower seed (yeah you know what I’m talking about)–had the ability to revise some of the most spazatic days in my memory into chunks of happy breaded bliss. And so I sought to recreate that sense of contentment. Except I couldn’t find the organic Turkish apricots at Sprouts until I’d already bought a bag full of dried blueberries and I was too cheap to buy other seeds/nuts so I thought I’d just use up the walnut halves in my pantry at home.
Point? I’m bad at following recipes. But it doesn’t matter. Because this bread is delicious. Even my dad, who is skeptical of any bread that isn’t the color of a 50s picket fence, loved it. In fact, I’m back-posting this from Paris, where I’ve had some pretty good freshly baked bread, and I have to say that blueberry-walnut loaf could get it.
3 cups flour (1 1/2 all-purpose, 1 1/2 whole wheat)
1 1/2 tsp salt
3 tablespoons of sugar
2 teaspoons traditional yeast
1 1/4 cups water
1 tbsp oil
1/2 cup dried blueberries
1/2 cup walnut halves, chopped
1. Let the yeast bloom in 1 1/4 cups of water that is slightly warm to the touch in a large mixing bowl. Stir in the sugar to help the yeast bloom.
2. In a smaller bowl, sift the flour and salt together. Slowly add flour to the yeast/liquid mixture until the dough comes together. After 5-6 minutes of kneading, the dough should be about ready–add in the chopped walnuts and dried blueberries.
3. Coat the dough with 1 tbsp of oil to make sure it does not stick to the bowl when it is rising. Cover it with a damp cloth and put it in a warm place. Let rise for about an hour.
4. Take your dough out of the bowl and shape it into a ball (be nice to it! you don’t want to break all the air bubbles in the dough). Place it on a baking sheet on top of parchment paper that is lightly floured. Let it rise for another hour.
5. Bake for 40 minutes in a 350 degree oven.