Time to get fruity…with a breakfast loaf
My family often moan when I serve up new things for supper. If I had my way I’d try out several new recipes every week, but they prefer tried and tested favourites. Breakfast time is where I need repetition. Decision-making and creativity has to be channeled elsewhere that early in the morning. Different choices are reserved for the weekends; so when the dogs are walked, the girls have left on the school bus and there’s a short gap before I hit my desk I usually reach for the toaster. The bread has to be substantial and I slice and freeze the nuttiest, grainiest bread that I make or buy.
La Cuisine de Sarah threw down the Fresh From the Oven gauntlet with a breakfast fruit loaf and I’m so obsessed with Dan Lepard’s bread at the moment that I thought I’d have a tinker with something in Short and Sweet. While the oven is hot it’s more efficient to bake two loaves so I made Dan’s multi-grain and honey loaf and did a breakfast riff on a second batch of dough. Breakfast equals marmalade…so what about using it in the dough? Would dried sour cherries and some almonds go with the orangey flavour? There was only one way to find out.
This uses the half-sponge method which means mixing some flour, water and a small amount of yeast and leaving it overnight for the flavours to develop by maturing slowly. A sort of porridge is added for texture too. Forget toning up your ‘bingo wings’ as Dan espouses a short and gentle manipulation of the dough rather than heavy kneading. The fruit loaf dough was much stickier to work with but I managed with a well oiled work top and a few extra gentle kneads. I was surprised at how completely different the loaves were from each other. The multigrain was very chewy and wholesome, the fruit loaf lighter and really good toasted and spread with butter. That’s breakfast decision-making taken care of for a couple of weeks.
Sour cherry, marmalade and almond loaf – adapted from the Multigrain and honey loaf by Dan Lepard
225ml warm water (about 30-35C)
1 level teaspoon fast-action dried yeast (or you can use easy-blend)
175g strong white bread flour
30g rolled oats
3 tablespoons marmalade
50g dried sour cherries (or other dried fruit – I used some chopped dried apricots too)
50g almonds, chopped roughly
100ml water, boiling
For the dough
100g strong white bread flour
75g spelt flour
1 level teaspoon sea salt
25g unsalted butter
Make the sponge: Stir the yeast into the warm water in a large bowl and then add the flour gently stirring until combined. Cover with clingfilm and leave overnight.
Make the oat mixture: Put the oats, marmalade, dried sour cherries and almonds in a bowl and pour in the boiling water. Stir to combine and leave to cool (you can do this the night before too).
Make the dough: The next day, scrape the oat mixture into the sponge mixture and beat well.
Put the strong white flour, the wholemeal flour, the salt and the butter (from the dough ingredients) into a large mixing bowl. Rub in the butter with your fingers until no lumps remain. Scrape the oaty, sponge mix into the flour and form into a sticky ball of dough. If you have a free standing mixer with a paddle attachment and dough hook you can combine the flours, rub in the butter (with the paddle) then mix together with the dough hook – I use a KitchenAid. Cover the bowl with a tea towel or cling film and leave for 10 minutes to rest.
Use Dan’s light kneading method to work the dough, so oil your work surface (I use olive oil) and turn the dough out and knead as per his basic techniques. Quickly rinse out the bowl and lightly oil before putting the dough back to rest for 15 minutes. Knead again, put back in the bowl, cover and rest for 30 minutes. Repeat the kneading one more time and rest in the covered bowl for another 30 minutes.
You can bake this on a tray or in a loaf tin (approx 19 cm long). If the latter, butter and flour it and also lightly flour your work surface. Using a floured rolling pin, roll the dough out into a rectangle about 2cm thick. The width should be the shorter side and measure slightly less than the length of the tin. Roll up tightly from the bottom to the top, and place it with the seam side down inside the tin or on a baking tray.
Cover with a floured tea towel until half its size again (about 3/4 hour). While it is proving preheat the oven to 220 C / 425 F/ gas 7 (or 240 C if your oven will heat up that much). Slash the loaf on top (I found it deflated a bit so this is optional). Put in the oven and immediately give a few squirts with a water spray. Close the door quickly and bake for 20 minutes, then reduce the heat to 200 C and bake for a further 20 minutes – just watch it doesn’t get too dark.
Cool on a wire rack and eat while just warm from the oven. Also great toasted spread with butter and marmalade.
Do you stick to the same old favourites for breakfast or ring the changes?