Sunday, January 13, 2013

Huh? Day-Old Fresh Bread, With Fruit!

Common sense is not so common. – Voltaire 

Good. Bread.

Thought I would start the day with a non-sequitur. Most of my days don't make sense, so why should yours? (Just kidding...)

A non-sequitur is an argument in which the conclusion does not follow from the premise. In other words it's a statement that does not make sense in some way. (Much like my writing, I would assume.)

Mixed and ready to be ignored.
We’ve all heard them before. They’re often said as jokes. Like “common sense,” “military intelligence,” or in this case “day-old fresh bread.”

But this IS day-old fresh bread, in a way. It takes 24 hours (one whole day) before it’s ready to go in the oven.

I have made breads that take an hour to rise, and ones that have a separate starter that rises overnight. I’ve even made bread where both the starter and the flour/water have sat overnight to work their magic.

But I’ve never made bread where you mix everything together, set it aside and just forget about it. 

But it works. Quite well actually.

This recipe was inspired by one I saw for baking bread in a Dutch oven. That recipe was different in key respects from what I have done, but the possibility of one long rise (24 hours) intrigued me. 

24 hours later.
Would the yeast have the tenacity to keep going that long? What would it be like? Well, what it’s like is delicious. 

The slow raise yields a slightly fermented flavour reminiscent of sourdough. The surface is dark and crackled, but becomes soft rather quickly. And the structure inside is very light, moist and open. 

All in all a very acceptable artisan-style bread, especially when you think that literally no hard work was involved.

Now no one – and I mean no one – has a excuse for not making bread. You mix everything together about 26 hours before you need it and set it aside. (Perhaps those incapable of planning have an excuse…)

Then about two hours before you want the bread shape it into loaves and let it rest for another hour. Pop it on the oven for about 45 minutes and you’re done. This may be one of my favourite new breads. 

Of course I couldn’t just make it plain. I had to make a fruit bread with the three As: almonds, apricots and dried apple. It’s a breakfast of champions, with butter..

If you’ve never made bread before, or if you’re “bread-challenged” you should give this a try. 

At worst you’ve wasted four cups of flour. At best, you have two loaves of wholesome goodness to bring to the table for your family to enjoy.

When baked they rise about 1/2 again as large as they
were before going into the oven.
24-Hour Rise Bread
Prep: 24 hours  |  Bake: 40-45 min  |  Yield 2 loves
4 cups flour
2 tsp salt
1-1/2 tsp yeast
2-1/2 cups water

The Three “A”s:
1/2 cup dried apricot, chopped
1/2 cup almond slices
1/2 cup dried apple slices, chopped

Combine all the dry ingredients, except for the apricot, almond and apple, in a large mixing bowl. Stir in the water and then the dried fruit and nuts. Mix everything together into a mass. Make sure your additions to the dough are distributed well throughout.

Cover the bowl with plastic and a towel. Let rise for 24 hours at room temperature. No need to ensure the dough is in a warm place. (Or even out of the cool. The temperature in our house cooled off to about 14°C during the day...) Just don't put it in a draft.

At the end of the 24 hours, divide the dough and gently shape into two oblong loaves. Do not knead or punch down, just shape.

Take care to distribute your additions throughout the bread. I should
have stirred everything together a little bit better. It's OK, but...
Place on a well-floured baking sheet and proof for 1 hour in a warm spot. About 20 minutes before baking, place a pan of water in the oven and preheat to 450°F.

Sprinkle the tops of the loaves with flour and place in the oven for 40-45 minutes. Remove the pan 10 minutes into the baking time.

Time depends on your additions. Wetter additions will probably take the full 45 minutes, or maybe 5 minutes longer, depending on your oven. The loaves will sound hollow and be nicely browned – and smell fantastic.

Other options:
Rosemary, lemon and gruyere
Roasted garlic and browned onions
Orange zest and cranberries
Seeds (sunflower, poppy, caraway, etc)

I’m not giving amounts for those additions because that’s four more posts I can write about later!! Keep a lookout for these breads, in due course.


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