Almond Prune Rye Bread

Does that combination sound odd to anyone else? Maybe it’s the word “prune”—it brings to mind images of old, wrinkly things (and old, wrinkly people), porridge, digestive problems…

Then again, the little baker in me also thinks of pleasant things like French armagnac tart, elegant frangipane and custardy clafoutis.

Whatever your initial reaction, please, please don’t let it stop you from trying this recipe. It’s, to say the least, intriguing…especially because of the caraway seeds and rye. I don’t even LIKE caraway seeds or rye bread. However, together with the sweet prunes and mild almonds, the flavors work. Really well. The original recipe called for cranberries and pecans; I wonder how they would work with the caraway and rye. Or what if I use rosemary instead of caraway next time? Now that is a combination worth getting excited about. 😛

So as I mentioned in my last post, I’m making an effort to bake organic on a budget and which I tried do with this bread. So, I’m not sure it was really worth it as I don’t think I actually saved anything: $2 for the bus, plus around $8 for the flour, the nuts and the prunes (were they watered with liquid gold or what). Oh, I want to be good to my body and to the environment so bad—but it it’s hard! I have to remember to think about the big picture: pay now or pay (exorbitant medical bills) later.

As for the process, I have no issues to report. Though, I did fight it out with the dough for about 30 minutes, having to knead by hand. But in the end, I won. Look at that loaf!! Crispy on the outside and chewy and aromatic on the inside.

Enjoy!

Almond Prune Rye Bread (adapted from Bake at 350’s version of a Martha Stewart recipe)

INGREDIENTS

1 cup almonds, roughly chopped

vegetable oil, for greasing the bowl

1 1/4 cups lukewarm water

2 1/4 tsp instant yeast (or 2 1/2, plus 1/8 if using active dry)

2 cups bread flour

2 cups rye flour

2 tsp salt (the original called for 2 1/2; this seems a bit excessive to me)

2 tbsp organic evaporated cane sugar (original called for 1 tbsp)

1 1/2 tbsp caraway seeds (will add half that amount next time)

3/4 cup prunes, coarsely chopped

1 large egg, plus 1 tbsp water, for egg wash

sea salt for sprinkling (forgot to do this, but jeez, enough salt already!)

METHOD

  1. In a large mixing bowl, stir together the yeast, flours, salt, sugar and caraway seeds. Add the water and mix with the paddle attachment on medium low until the dough comes together. (If using active dry yeast, activate the yeast in 1/2 cup lukewarm water—not above 105 F–by letting it sit for about 10 minutes, or until really foamy. Remember to reduce the amount of water you add later to 3/4 cup.)
  2. Switch to the dough hook and mix on medium speed, about 4-5 minutes, or until the dough is smooth and elastic. On low speed, add the cranberries and pecans. Transfer the dough to a lightly oiled bowl, cover with oiled plastic wrap (to prevent sticking) and let sit about 1 hour, or until doubled in bulk.
  3. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface. (I used my Silpat; it’s a good reference for gauging size.) Roll out to a 13×10 inch rectangle, with the short side facing you. Fold in 1/2 inch flaps at each corner, i.e. doggy-ear the corners. Starting at the top, roll the dough towards you, gently pressing as you go to form a tight log. (Again, the Silpat is really helpful for this.) Roll back and forth gently to seal the bottom seam. Transfer the loaf to a baking sheet lined with parchment (or temporarily onto a cutting board and back onto your Silpat), cover and let sit for 45 minutes.
  4. Pre-heat the oven to 350 F (175 C).
  5. Beat the egg with 1 tbsp water. Brush the loaf generously with the egg wash and sprinkle with sea salt. Bake until the crust is a deep, golden brown, 35-40 minutes. (I rotated my loaf halfway through to ensure even baking.) Transfer to a wire rack and let cool completely before slicing.

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