Sunday, February 06, 2011

Edge of Winter Bread

I still read the daily newspaper. That does, indeed, make me something of a dinosaur, but I enjoy reading the paper during breakfast and I have difficulty mixing food and drink and computer use...guess it's because I'm prone to spilling things and I would hate to have scrambled eggs all over my keyboard or coffee splashes on my screen.

One of the things that has been really brought to the front time and again this past week or so are all of the extremes of weather around the globe, from flooding followed by a cyclone in Australia to cold so extreme in Taos where my sister and brother-in-law live that the natural gas from Texas is unavailable...most likely it turned to a liquid and is just sitting in the pipes.

Snow continues to confound New York city with it's persistence and depth, snow sliding off the Superbowl stadium slid onto an unlucky bypasser, and we are having a long dry warm spell. Now this might sound like boasting, but they tell us that we should worry because February is supposed to be wet...we don't usually get much rain during the summer and early fall, so we need it now.

Being an optimistic sort of person I'm not going to worry about the lack of rain. Instead I made bread and since it IS still winter I added lemon zest and some Meyer Lemon flavored olive oil, plus dried fruit. I even used the last of my Michigan dried cherries! Maybe I'll get some for Christmas.

This bread is fine grained and moist, just slightly sweet, and makes excellent toast. I divided the dough in half and used one half to make 6 mini-breads, baked in custard cups and ramekins. The other half was shaped into a ball and baked in a pie pan. That loaf will work for sandwiches or some great French Toast.You can shape your as you like. This dough is easy to work with.

If you want to use it as a sweet bread for breakfast, you could add another 1/3 cup brown sugar when you mix the liquid ingredients. Shape one piece of dough in a braid...and you could even top it with the second piece, braided. When baked and cooled a milk and powdered sugar icing drizzled on top and a scattering of sliced almonds will make it quite impressive.

This bread is going to Susan at Wild Yeast for the Yeastspotting weekly event, one of the most inspiring and fun weekly collections of bread you've ever seen.

Lemon Winter Sourdough Mini-Breads and Round Loaf
Recipe created by me

Pre-Ferment
1 cup sourdough starter
1 cup flour
1 cup water

Dough
1/2 cup water at room temperature
1/2 teaspoon instant yeast
1/2 cup milk at room temperature
all of Pre-Ferment
1 egg
5 tablespoons Meyer Lemon or regular olive oil
grated zest of 1 medium lemon
1/3 cup brown sugar
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup whole-wheat flour
2 1/2 - 3 cups bread flour
1 teaspoon salt

Fruit Mix
1/2 cup dried cherries, chopped
1/2 cup golden raisins
1/2 cup chopped dates
1/2 cup shredded coconut

Pre-Ferment
Whisk the flour and water together in a medium bowl, then whisk in the sourdough starter until well combined. Let sit uncovered on the counter 2 hours. Cover with plastic wrap and keep in the refrigerator for at least 1 day or up to 1 week.

Dough
Add the instant yeast to the water and let proof. In the bowl of an electric mixer with dough hook, or in a large mixing bowl, combine the water-yeast mixture, milk and pre-ferment. Add the egg, olive oil, and brown sugar, lemon zest and combine well.

In another bowl combine the all-purpose and whole-wheat flours, 1 cup of the bread flour and the salt with a whisk until well mixed. With the mixer on low speed, add the flour about a cup at a time, for the first 2/3 of the flour mixture. The dough should come together and start climbing the dough hook. Add the remaining 1 cup flour mixture in 1/3 cup increments then continue to add the rest of the bread flour in small amounts until the dough fully climbs the dough hook and cleans the side of the bowl. Let dough knead for 3 - 5 minutes, or until soft and supple.

Turn dough into an oiled bowl or container for rising, cover loosely with an oiled piece of plastic wrap, then a tea towel and let rise until doubled, about 2 hours.

While dough rises, combine the Fruit Mix ingredients in a small bowl. Set aside.

Turn risen dough out onto lightly floured surface and press down to release gases. Divide into 2 pieces of dough. Set one aside.

Knead 1/2 of fruit mix into one piece of dough. Knead the other 1/2 of the fruit mix into the other piece of dough. Shape dough as desired. Cover loosely with oiled plastic wrap and a tea towel and let rise until nearly doubled in bulk, about 2 hours for a loaf or 1 hour for rolls.

Bake in preheated 375 degree oven until golden brown and loaf sounds hollow when bottom is tapped.

Let cool completely. Makes great toast!

4 comments :

Peabody said...

That bread looks and sounds glorious.

Katie said...

Looks gorgeous and loevly and fruity. You can't beat the flavour of sourdough

tanita davis said...

You know that kind of reminds me of stollen... which I didn't get to have at Christmas... and for which I have had a craving.

But the LEMON flavoring in this takes it over the top and makes it exceedingly tempting! Must try.

Elle said...

Pea, it is! Wish you had some and coffee and we were in the same place, too.

Katie, It's true. Sourdough is lovely with sweet dried fruit, too.

Tanita, It is similar to a stollen, although with the olive oil a bit leaner...stollen usually has a lot of butter :) Mmmm butter.

Two Sisters Down, I did get some dried cherries for Christmas! Thank you!