It’s monday, outside the sky is grey, it’s also quite cold and this year I’m feeling the coming of autumn more than ever. I want to cook, to preserve food in fancy jars, to experiment things on the stove (I’m also educating myself about the tarte Tatin!).
In the past weeks I’ve reorganized my pantry, where, surprise surprise, I’ve recovered a braid of dried figs my in-laws gave us I think past Christmas.
After a careful close look turns out the figs aren’t spoiled and also still quite good!
So I decided to try this out: whole wheat bread with dried figs and nuts, like one I had sometimes in the mountains. of Verbano-Cusio-Ossola.
First thing first I pulled out my trusty bread machine (but if you don’t have one, don’t worry) and the flour I’ve been using lately to bake bread.
It’s a flour that has already mixed in some yeast, I buy it at Lidl, it’s a whole wheat and whole rye mixture.
Again, instead of this you can use the flour you prefer, just remember to add yeast!
For my first try I was tempted by a recipe I found on the instruction book of my bread machine… it turned out a not-so-well-raised lump, that didn’t taste that bad (and needed more fruit), but was kinda acidic… Turns out that the type of flour the recipe called for was a white soft flour.
I know, I told you that you can use any kind of flour and yeast, it wasn’t a lie, but it’s best if you know what that flour likes in terms of yeast, time for raising, quantity of water, of sugar, of salt, and so on… basically, baking is sometimes a pain in the a… 😛
Yet! Do not despair!
There is a trick. Which, in my case, could be translated into a “told you so” from all the people I asked advice to.
Here’s the trick: take a recipe for bread you already used successfully and add the dried figs and nuts, bake as usual.
So, here’s my second successful experiment
500 gr flour
350 ml water
25 gr butter (or shortage)
1 t.spoon salt
1 t.spoon sugar
Programme number 1, “base”*, in my bread machine (set on the “big” one, and hard crust), when it went “beep beep beep” (aka “I’ve finished kneading and raising, I’m about to start kneading and raising for the second time) I’ve added in about 100gr dried, chopped, figs and a handful of crushed nuts.
On its own.
With cream cheese.
With cream cheese and smoked salmon.
A little less with cooked ham, but with speck… 😀
Yes, “base”, I once tried the whole wheat programme, the one with longer times for kneading and raising, since whole wheat flour needs more time… but once cooked the bread “sat” on itself. Then my friend told me “with the bread machine you have to work whole wheat flour quickly, othewhise it’s too overdone an it sits on itself”. There you go, the base programme works wonders. The programme I used for my firs experiment was, instead, the one for sweets (otherwise the book also adviced for the “express” programme, but was way too quick, while the “sweet” one had just about the same time-span of the base one… well… completely useless as you could see!).