Baking bread is ridiculously satisfying. With a little bit of love and, let’s face it, not all that much care and attention, you can make something that simultaneously supplies comfort and nourishment, an innate sense of smugness and a not-to-be-underestimated arm workout. This loaf is my current favourite, packed full of sticky figs and toasted hazelnuts, it is moist and morish and absolutely wonderful with goat’s cheese. Feel free to dust liberally with flour a la artisans everywhere, this will only add to the sense of pride, trust me.
- 250g wholemeal spelt flour
- 250g strong, white bread flour
- A 7g sachet of Easy Bake yeast
- 1 tbsp black treacle
- 1 heaped tsp salt
- 350ml warm water
- 250g soft, dried figs
- 70g hazelnuts
- 3 large pinches of fennel seeds
- Mix the flours and yeast together in a large bowl. Add the treacle and salt before adding the warm water, stirring as you pour this into the bowl. Mix everything together until you have a smooth dough.
- Turn the dough out onto a floured work surface and begin to knead. Never underestimate how much flour you’ll need for a good kneading session, keep the bag out for the duration would be my advice, especially with this recipe as the dough is pretty sticky. Continue to knead the dough until you feel it spring back to the touch, it will still be moist but not sticky anymore. I normally aim for 10mins kneading time for this recipe.
- Next step is the first prove. Place the dough into a floured bowl, cover with a clean cloth and place this in a warm place for at least an hour. My airing cupboard is fast becoming an extension of my kitchen, it is great for proving. By this point the dough should have risen to almost double its original size.
- Turn the dough out again and fold in the sliced figs, whole hazelnuts and fennel seeds until they are all incorporated. Divide the dough in two and form into round loaves. Place the loaves onto a floured baking tray and allow them another 45mins to prove again.
- Finally bake the loaves for 25-30mins at 220°C / Gas Mark 7. Gently tap the bottom of each loaf to see if it sounds hollow, this is your sign that they’re done. Allow to cool and serve with your favourite goat’s cheese.
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