Thursday, May 5, 2022

Dried Fruit and Pecan Loaf with @selefina.spices

This sweet and spiced Dried Fruit and Pecan Loaf is packed with dried apricots, blueberries and dates, which play off the toasted pecans and oats in the dough beautifully. A generous dash of spices from @selefina.spices ties everything together - try it toasted with cream cheese for a treat!

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Even though the spring weather is starting to creep out and more and more freshness is permeating the world, I have a soft spot for the warming, hearty baked goods all year round. In particular, if I'm making a loaf for breakfast (which is what I'm usually baking for Mom), I know there are a set of unofficial criteria to follow - slightly sweet, hearty (packed with whole grains, seeds, or as my mom calls them "bits"), and good toasted with either a Toast Topper, butter or cream cheese. In essence, it gives me free reign to clean out the pantry and freezer every once in a while, and figure out a way to tie everything together. This loaf was inspired by a plethora of dried fruit I had and bolstered by the recent arrival of a set of brand new spices from Selefina - a sister company to the Adagio teas I love and have reviewed here before. With a quiet afternoon on my hands I decided to create a Dutch-oven baked boule with a bunch of whole grains and the aforementioned ingredients to see how it all worked out. 

The first thing that I realized with this loaf is that the combination of ingredients makes for some happy yeast and a great rise, yet because the loaf is so hearty the crumb remains tight. This, to me, is not a bad thing - I want a piece of bread in the morning that can stand up to toasting or topping (or both), and the flavour was well worth the lack of airiness. The Dutch oven gives this bread a glorious crust too, so even while it may not be incredibly visually appealing, it is well worth the effort!

From the Press Release: The creative team behind Adagio Teas had recently launched Selefina Spices, a new online shop for herbs and spices. Selefina will also differentiate itself from other online purveyors by making its quality products available in small amounts. The objective is to deliver herbs and spices of optimum freshness as well as encourage trial of unfamiliar products and broaden culinary exploration. 

My notes: I love the fact that these spices come in small quantities, opaque, zip-sealed bags, and that the company has such a variety of them! I was sent a very generous variety, and looking at the website I can still see some that I'd love (looking at you, butterfly pea flower, lavender and pasilla chile). The fact that these spices come from a sister company to Adagio, who arguably make some of the best teas I've ever had (I'm still enjoying the last of the advent calendar offerings and can't wait til its iced tea season again) I know I'm getting quality ingredients. These spices are super fresh and potent, so a little goes a long way!

Dried Fruit and Pecan Loaf

Makes one large loaf
6 cups whole wheat bread flour
1 1/2 cups quick or 5 minute oats
1 tbsp instant yeast (I used SAF Gold)
1 tsp Selefina ground allspice
1 tsp Selefina ground ginger
1/2 tsp Selefina ground cloves
1 cup unsweeetened soy milk (optional, for a better rise)
2 - 2 1/2 cups cool water
3 tbsp honey or maple syrup
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup chopped dates
1 cup chopped dried apricots
1/2 cup dried blueberries
1 cup chopped pecans, toasted
  1. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook, combine the flour, oats, yeast, spices, soy milk, water and honey. Mix on low speed for about 3 minutes, until just combined.
  2. Let rest 5 minutes.
  3. Add the salt, fruit and nuts and mix on medium-low speed for 8-10 minutes, until the dough is supple and elastic and pulls away from the sides of the bowl.
  4. Cover and let rise until doubled, about 60-75 minutes.
  5. Punch down and turn onto a very lightly floured surface. Knead briefly and shape into a tight ball.
  6. Place the dough ball onto a piece of parchment (seam side down) and place into a bowl to keep it's shape.
  7. Let rise until almost doubled, about 45 minutes. Place bowl into the fridge while oven heats.
  8. Heat the oven for at least 40 minutes at 450F with a large Dutch oven inside (I used a 7qt Staub). 
  9. After the 40 minutes of heating, carefully remove the lid of the Dutch oven and place the dough, parchment and all, into the hot Dutch oven. Replace the lid and place back in the oven.
  10. Bake, covered, for 40 minutes. Uncover and bake for 5 more minutes if it is not brown enough for your liking.
    Cool in the (open) Dutch oven for 5 minutes, then transfer to a cooling rack and cool completely.

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