March 9, 2014 by Dewi
It’s said that the best people with whom to surround yourself are those who are a little fruity, or maybe a bit nutty. Please humour me as I attempt to stretch this concept a little thin and apply it to bread. Just as those wonderful-and-a-little-crazy people can inject colour into a monochrome day, so too can a good fruity, nutty loaf of lovely bread.
Please don’t worry; I’ve not lost my mind just yet. Although two weeks of intense exams sandwiched between long library days with my face pressed between textbook pages would give me some licence to talk total gibberish for a while.
The exam period hasn’t been great, especially in terms of cooking. I’ve not had much time, if any, to spend with my beloved family of pots and pans. The last few weeks have mainly involved late-night suppers of beans on toast (with cheese on top). Definitely not the most cutting edge of the culinary jaunts I’ve enjoyed. My exams are finally over, and with this rather alien, new found freedom I decided to spend a few hours in the kitchen doing something I find completely therapeutic and bake a new loaf of bread.
It was this therapeutic element of bread-making which I so needed as I decided to take on a bake. Mainly because as I’m writing this, my head is a little sore after a couple of less than responsible evenings spent celebrating in the pubs of Manchester. The act of mindlessly kneading, stretching and massaging a soft, elastic dough is something I’m now certain was made for niggly, clingy hangovers. What better remedy could there be for such self-induced fragile fuzziness than a thick slice of warm, jewell-speckled bread and a mug of tea? The answer is, of course, none.
So, onto the bread. Hazelnuts are great. We’re all agreed on that, right? The nuts in this bread are toasted to release their natural, earthy sweetness. They are partnered with chewy, tangy dried cranberries, which means that with each big, bready mouthful you enjoy a bunch of interesting flavours and textures. Oh and if you happen to be hungover (I almost definitely don’t recommend that you are) and engulfed in your favourite oversized hoodie, then a buttered slice of this bread with your rescue-me-brew is simply not optional.
- 350g strong wholemeal flour
- 150g all-purpose flour
- 7g instant yeast
- Tsp salt
- 350ml warm water
- Tbsp olive oil
- Tbsp honey
- 75g skinless hazelnuts
- 100g dried cranberries
Combine the flours in a large mixing bowl.
Add the yeast and salt on opposite sides of the bowl and, whilst keeping them separate, rub into the flour.
In a jug, combine the water, olive oil and honey.
Make a well in the dry ingredients, pour in the wet ingredients and combine to form a dough.
Tip the dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead for 10 minutes until the dough becomes quite elastic.
Form the dough into a ball and place in an oiled mixing bowl.
Cover with cling film and leave to prove in a warm place (an airing cupboard is perfect) for around an hour, or until the dough has doubled in size.
Whilst the dough proves you can prepare the hazelnuts.
Place a dry pan over a medium heat and add the nuts.
Shake the pan from time to time, until the nuts are coloured all over but not burnt. Remove and leave to cool.
You can either chop the nuts by hand, bash them using a pestle and mortar, or just give them a brief pulse in a food processor. You want them to remain coarse and chunky.
Knock the air out of the proved dough, tip onto a lightly floured surface and flatten it out.
Pour over the fruit and nuts and knead the dough for 10 minutes.
Shape the dough into oval, place into a lightly oiled loaf tin and cover with cling film.
Put the tin into a plastic bag and seal it well. Leave to prove for an hour.
Pre-heat the oven to 220℃ and place a baking tray of boiling water on the bottom shelf. The steam will help the bread to form the perfect crust.
Remove the loaf from the bag and carefully score the top using a very sharp knife – be careful not to knock any air out of the loaf. Place your loaf into the preheated oven and bake for 35 minutes.
Remove the loaf from the tin, place onto a wire rack and try your very best to let it cool completely before enjoying a slice or two. I never, ever make it that far.