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Awesome setting: 11

Dudes, can you have too much awesome?

M has been experimenting with a new dough trick: a huge batch of basic 70% hydration dough, lightly kneaded and popped in the fridge until wanted, topped up occasionally. We’ve been making pizza from it all week. I’ve been theorising (read: thinking on the toilet) about other possibilities for fruit loaf options, after the jubilee of success of my last effort. Combine these two factors with the pressing urgency of no raisin bread for breakfast and, well, my maths isn’t great but I’m pretty sure you get incredible developments.

So I put handfuls — nay, fistfuls! — of sultanas, dried apple, figs and dates into a big bowl, covered them with water and left them to soak all day while I was at work. I came home to a bowl bloated with squashy fruit. Boy howdypants, dried fruit gets big if you give it time to soak. There’s probably a metaphor in there about allowing goodness the time it needs and society and emotion, but fuck off, we’re talking bread. I chopped the now-squashy fruit and reserved the soak liquid.

Squooooshy

I took the last two cups of M’s 70% hydration starter, threw in two cups each of wholemeal and white flour, some salt, a little extra dried yeast, spices (ginger, allspice, nutmeg and shitloads of cinnamon) and sugar. I added fruit-soak water to equal 70% of the flours’ weight. Then knead knead knead knead — it was moist and malleable, and the dough came together in about five minutes, a personal best. It was way wetter than a 70% hydration dough usually is; the wet fruit contributed a lot more than I anticipated. From there, standard breadmaking procedure. Twenty minutes’ rest, then the first fold/punchdown; then 40 minutes’ rest, and then shaping (shaping was a bitch, actually, because the dough was so moist) and then one last 45 minute rest in the loaf tins before leaping into a hot oven for 45 minutes.

Crustylicious

I didn’t add as much milk or milk powder as I wanted because we’re running low and I want to make yoghurt later. So the crust is noticeably crunchier than the last batch, which is fine because it’s frickin’ delishush. The slow-rise dough has given it toothy sourdough robustness (oomphalaboomph!), and the long-soak fruit has made it extra juicy and flavoursome. Behold the carve:

Froooooot

In my last post about raisin bread, I mentioned pining for more fruit: HERE’S YOUR MORE FRUIT. I more than tripled the amount of fruit this time, as well as diversifying, and it’s perfect. I’m kind of kicking myself for not weighing the fruit before I started soaking it, but honestly I don’t think this recipe will be reproduced with machine-like accuracy in the future anyway. There were circumstantial tweaks that made this batch unique: I used that much dried apple because it seemed dumb to put back a bag with only two bits left, I used this much starter because I wanted to finish off the batch in the fridge, I didn’t use milk because I wanted to make yoghurt later…these are all individuating (totally is a word) factors.

Ahhhh, soft and fluffy crumb.

To know the principles well enough to run with circumstance and mood is a fantastic development in every skill: what’s the point if you can’t bend the tools to meet your needs and whim? Riffing and improvising in music makes it exciting; tweaking the pattern makes knitting more than finger dancing; and to make lush fruity bread without recipe restrictions is gold.

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