The weather is rather unpredictable these days. One day it's bright and sunny and the next grey and snowy keeping one largely stuck indoors. Though I must say, I was rather proud of myself yesterday for having trudged through the city slush to the gym!! Anyway, such eccentricities aside, what I usually feel like doing is cuddling with a hot cuppa, reading food blogs and dreaming of all lovely things I can bake...
The aromas and warmth wafting from a fresh baked something can make even a dungeon feel comfortable! So it is natural that one's thoughts trend that way when the outside is muggy and dis-spiriting. Don't get me wrong, snow is beautiful and all that but I am not a winter person and add to that the city can make even beauty turn beast! So, after the first delusional joy that fresh snow brings, reality kicks in and you realize that reaching somewhere with wet sneakers is NOT cool..
Ah well! Clearly I can't wait for the weather to thaw. In the meantime, I am going to try to be shiny and sunny by popping things out of my oven!:) So yesterday, on one such day, I decided to bake bread. Trolling through the net, I came across a lovely recipe on Bon Appetit. It had fruit, chocolate and warming spices in it - So perfect!
And, it came to me just in time for Meeta's Monthly Mingle submission. This month's event is hosted by lovely Jamie and she chose the theme to be Bread and Chocolate. Not a surprise, given it's Jamie, non?! :) So anyway, the thought of the baking this made me happy.
I used dried cranberries and some diced candied pomelo peels that I had made earlier this month when I saw the pomelo on the grocery shelves and pounced on it. You see, so many people had been raving about the said fruit, it seemed a blasphemy that I hadn't tried it yet. Well, anyway, the fruit was consumed and not liked very much, I must add... It is TART!! For me, fruits need to be sweet. Oranges are the end of my sweetness rope.
In it's defense, the candied peels taste good. It's like eating a sour patch candy; you scrunch up your face, shake your head, swallow and then reach for more. They added a nice touch of tang to the bread. For the warmth I added fresh cinnamon and nutmeg - typical winter spices...
After glutenifying overnight, shaped into a log this morning (I woke up early.. Not for this purpose, I swear!) and rising to double, the dough went into the oven. As soon as it hit the heat, the aromas arose like ghosts in the dark. Ah! such heartwarming smells filled my apartment.. Sweet, spicy, warm, enveloping.. I could just picture it like in cartoons; the tempting swirls of aromas intoxicating me with optimism. I was doing taxes while it was baking. It made even that seem not so bad! :)
So there, I am happy the day was snowy, I got to make this bread (not to mention give cause to take pride in myself)... Because, it's awesome!!! It has a nice cake like texture which makes it perfect tea accompaniment. Now that I mention it, am off to have a slice with my tea now.. ciao people! :)
Oh and before I sign off, I just wanted to leave a gentle reminder about the FSK Cafe event - Same Notes, Different Highs. This month's ingredients to highlight (in two distinct flavor profiles) are Tomato, Mozzarella and Basil. The deadline for submission is March 15, 2010. For details about the event and how to submit an entry please visit my original announcement here.
Also, sending this bread to our friendly, neighbourhood Yeastspotting team!
Chocolate and Fruit Spiced Bread
(adapted from Bon Appetit)
1/2 cup warm whole milk
1 envelopes active dry yeast
1/4 tsp plus 1/4 cup sugar (add more if you like it sweeter)
1- 3/4 cups all purpose flour + more for dusting and while kneading
1-1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp fresh grated nutmeg
1 tsp salt
1 large egg, room temperature
3 T unsalted butter, room temperature
2/3 cup mixture of dry fruits (I used cranberries and diced pomelo peel)
1 1.2 oz bitter sweet chocolate, rough chopped
Stir milk, yeast, and 1/4 tsp sugar in small bowl and let stand until mixture bubbles, then stir.
Meanwhile, keep ready flour, sugar, nutmeg, cinnamon and salt in a medium bowl. Add the yeast mixture whisking (I used a wire whisk. If you have a Kitchen aid then use the paddle attachment) the liquid around until dry shaggy mass forms, scraping down bowl occasionally, about 2 minutes. Add the egg and whisk until incorporated and it comes together into a moist soft dough that.
Add butter by 1 1/2 tablespoonfuls and incorporate fully before adding more. This was a bit tricky. I had to use a bit more flour so the dough did not keep slipping out of my hand. But persevere and it'll know who is boss!
Let dough rest in bowl 10 minutes (dough will become less sticky). Mix chocolate and dry fruits in a bowl. Place the dough in large bowl. Sprinkle chocolate mixture over dough and knead just until incorporated. Transfer dough to a large buttered bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and let dough rise at room temperature until almost doubled in volume. Punch dough down; cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.
Butter a 9x5-inch metal loaf pan. Turn cold dough out onto work surface. Form dough into a log about 9 inches long. Place the logs in prepared loaf pans. Cover pans with plastic wrap. Let dough rise until almost doubled in volume.
Position the oven rack in center of oven and preheat to 400F. Brush tops of risen bread loaves with butter. Pop into oven and lower the heat to 375F. Bake until top crust is deep brown and tester inserted into center of each loaf comes out clean, about 35 minutes. Remove from oven; let loaves rest in pans 5 minutes. Cool on rack to room temperature.
Dust with powdered sugar, slice and enjoy!