It has been the most stunningly gorgeous day in Central Texas. Inspired by the sunshine, I reverted to my domestic goddess type – opening all the windows, stewing apples and being chased around the kitchen by an inquisitive bee (or five) that found its way inside. I also decided to make bread.
I’ve made bread before, following an excellent recipe in my favourite Stephanie Alexander cookbook, which, due to weighing in at about 5kg, is safely stowed in a storage unit in Sydney. I managed to find a similar recipe online though, and adapted it today to create a delicious, hearty fruit loaf full of cinnamon, apricots, sultanas and sunflower seeds.
Adapted from this basic bread recipe. IMPORTANT NOTE: Far be it from me to argue with Stephanie Alexander. The woman is a kitchen queen and deservedly so. That said, I found that the amount of flour and water she’d recommended did not work for me and I had to add in around another 150g or so of flour to achieve the recommended consistency. This might have been a problem at my end, but I’d recommend having more flour than you need on hand, just in case. If your mix isn’t thickening as it should, shake in additional flour gradually, mixing very thoroughly until you get the desired “sticky ball” consistency (if you can avoid this though, do – it will weigh down the bread a little).
500g white whole wheat flour
7g sachet of dry yeast
1 tsp salt
500 mL warm water
1 tbsp honey
1 tbsp cinnamon
1/2 cup sultanas
1/2 cup chopped dried apricots
1/4 cup sunflower seeds
Tip all the flour into a large mixing bowl and add the salt and yeast. Stir once or twice with the wooden spoon. In a measuring cup, mix together the honey and warm water.
Using the wooden spoon, push the flour away from the centre of the large bowl to make a well in the middle. Pour in the warm water and honey mixture. Mix in the flour gradually. Once combined, add the sultanas, apricots, sunflower seeds and cinnamon. Stir the mixture vigorously until you end up with a sticky ball of dough. If your ‘sticky ball’ seems determined to stay more of a ‘runny mess’, add a little more flour, bit by bit and stirring constantly.
Sprinkle your work surface liberally with flour. Sprinkle a little extra flour on your hands and the dough mix too. Tip the dough onto the floured surface and pat all the pieces into a pile. Squash it all into one lump. Knead constantly for about 3 minutes.
Lightly grease a bowl. Place dough ball into bowl and cover with a clean tea towel. Leave in a warm place for at least 30 minutes. The dough should roughly double in size.
After 30 minutes, re-flour your re-cleaned work surface. Take the dough ball and knock out all of the air (trust me, this is the most satisfying part of all). Knead the dough again, this time for 1-2 minutes. Return to the greased bowl, cover with the tea towel and leave for another 20-30 minutes.
While the dough is sitting, preheat the oven to 200°C or about 390-400°F and lightly grease a baking tray. When the 20 minutes has passed, transfer the dough to the baking tray and bake for around 4 minutes, or until bread sounds hollow.
The bread should be fragrant and slightly chewy. It’s even better toasted with a little butter.