fruit loaves recently, I had been tossing around ideas for different fruit combinations which proved to be quite a task for a person who rejects sultanas, raisins and currants in all their cooked forms!
Dates had been calling to me though and while I think pecans would go wonderfully in this bread, walnuts were used instead as that is what we had at the time and I wanted to use them up.
Date and Nut Loaves
makes 2 hefty loaves
700g bread flour
300g wholemeal flour (I used Atta, just for play)
1 tbs golden syrup
1/4 cup soft brown sugar
2 1/2 tsp finely ground sea salt
550g water - dechlorinated
1 cup dates, chopped (2 cups if you're hankering for a date fix)
1 cup nuts, your preference - I used a mixture of walnuts and flaked almonds (2 cups if you want to go nuts! Pun intended)
3 tsp mixed spice
I've been mixing the dough in my old mixmaster which performs the task beautifully - so long as the dough hooks are attached, very important - this is not beater territory! First the starter is added, then the water which is swished around to ensure the starter is well diluted. Then the remaining ingredients are added, minus the salt which is added up to an hour or so after the dough has first been mixed. This delayed addition of the salt helps the dough get a kick start on growing, as salt acts as a yeast inhibitor.
|Ingredients are tossed in to the mixmaster bowl. This quantity is about the maximum my humble bowl here will accommodate.|
|Mixing on low speed, no need to go nuts! (ah, this time pun not intended!)|
Back to the plastic wrap, I like to use this as it stops any draughts entering the bowl and forming a crust on the dough - I have a couple out on the bench and just keep re-using them over and over until their appearance gets beyond my liking.
Whenever I am walking past the dough, through the kitchen or I remember, it is pulled out and 'folded' gently, from anything to 20 minute to 1 hour intervals. To fold, pat it out gently into a rough rectangle then fold the two outer thirds in on themselves towards the center. A scraper or egg flip can come in handy if the dough is sticking to the bench (try not to add too much flour, just a sprinkle - enough to stop it sticking).
|Folding the dough - pat it out gently into a thick, large rectangle...|
|..then fold the two outer thirds into the center. Repeat another1-2 times until the dough won't fold anymore.|
Having a glass bowl is particularly handy for observing this take place;
|After several hours of occasional gentle folds - this dough has formed air pockets to my liking! Do you get excited about air pockets?|
Two to three hours later the loaves can be baked, depending on how fast/slow they are rising (room temperature - hot/cold?). Preheat the oven to 220c, score the loaves, spray mist lightly with water and bake for 20 minutes. Reduce oven to 200c, rotate loaves if needed and bake for another 20-30 minutes until cooked to your liking.
No photos of shaping as I had to feed the goats, and scoring was done in a mad panic while preparing dinner! Ahh, bottlenecks in the oven - this needs better planning!
|Date and Nut loaves|
Plenty of butter.
Did I mention the butter?
Let's not skimp on the butter...