I have to say that I'd forgotten how much I respect the process of making bread by hand (and the Kitchen Aid), and I'm so thankful to be part of the Alpha Bakers so that I can rediscover it again. When we were in France, the bread was unspeakably good. Every morning, Rick and I bought ourselves nut breads or bagette, a few pastries with one or two different cheeses, and headed directly for the nearest bench, where were quietly ate our breakfast and watched people pass by. There the breads are so delicious, and the reason is they allow the dough to mature and develop flavour and structure. The boulangers don't rush the process by forcing the rise in overly warm environments. Instead they give it a couple of days to rise at room temperature and then when they bake it, the aromas make you ache for the pleasure of it all. This bread reminds me of France (even though it's Swedish) because it's all about letting the flavours develop. For me, this is a perfect bread for breakfast, toasted with artisan cream cheese.
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- Now that I had a feel for the biga from the Panettone, I put it together without hesitation. When I went shopping for course rye flour, the best I could come up with was light or dark rye. I chose the dark rye. Everything seemed to go together easily; it rose nicely; and it sat in the fridge for 3 days.
Biga with rye.
- When it came time to put the dough together, I weighed the biga (thinking I didn’t want to put too much) and found that I didn’t have 4.8 ounces. I only had 4.1! I wonder why, since I had measured the biga as instructed. Did the yeast eat up some of the flour? Any insight on this would be appreciated.
- What I don’t understand is the yeast measurement for the dough: ¾ tsp minus 1/16? First of all, my scale doesn't measure in fractions of a gram, so I rounded up to 3 grams of yeast. Still, do fractions of a gram really matter when dealing with yeast in such small amounts? Again, any insight into this would also be appreciated.
- Besides that, my dough turned out just as the recipe suggested. It was very elastic, sticky and smooth. I really like this part of making bread.
The beautiful dough sticky and smooth.
- All in all, I let the flavours develop as much possible, as rye flour needs time to mellow. When it came time to add the nuts and fruit, the dough hook didn’t work at all, so I kneaded them in by hand,
Incorporating the nuts and raisins.
After it doubled in size the first time.
- Then I gave it a four-sided stretch and returned it to its warm place for another rise.
The dough folded after the four-sided stretch.
- then l let it double in size, knocked it down, and set it back in the fridge overnight (anybody remember a movie called The Blob? My fridge was still there in the morning!)
SHAPE THE BREAD DOUGH AND LET IT RISE
- By this time the dough felt quite dense, especially when it was cold and very elastic and supple when it warmed up. I shaped the dough and added the apricots,
Readying the apricots for the final roll.
Folding in the apricots.
- Measured it and set it on the tray for one final rise.
- Then I took the dog for some much needed exercise.
The final shaping.
BAKING THE BREAD
- It didn’t slash very well and I forgot to mist it with water before I set it in the oven (on the stone, in the lowest part of the oven, over the cast iron pan with freshly tossed ice cubes). It baked happily and when the temperature hit 205 or so, I took it out.
Just out of the oven. Swedish Apricot Walnut Bread The Finer Cookie
TASTING AND FINAL ASSESSMENT
- I could really taste the ripening of the biga and the depth of flavour. It had developed a slight tang, which was beautifully balanced by the sweetness of the apricot. The texture was quite chewy and I am not sure if this was correct. When I compare Rose’s picture with mine, her bread seems a little bit more open than mine. Still it was very good and a nice respite from the constant sweetness.
Swedish Apricot Walnut Bread, The Finer Cookie.
- Disclaimer: No recipes can be shared in my Alpha Bakers posts due to publishing restrictions enforced by the publisher, but please support me and Rose Levy Beranbaum by purchasing The Baking Bible . You can check out the work of the other Alpha Bakers at http://rosesalphabakers.blogspot.ca/.