Savor the flavors of everyday real food, fresh from the garden or stored on your pantry shelves.
Now, while it’s still cool, bake some delicious rustic breads and stock the freezer for special breakfasts and “high tea.” All the fruits in these breads give the loaves a craggy surface that’s wonderfully crunchy. These all keep for months wrapped well in the freezer. If you get them out the night before, they’ll be ready to slice for breakfast, toasted or not. I often cut the loaves in half before freezing, because six or eight slices will be plenty for a breakfast.
When you invest the time and costly ingredients for breads like this, use the best flour you can find — I’ve listed some of my favorites at the bottom of this post.
Cranberry-Pecan Breakfast Bread Recipe
Makes two 9-by-5 loaves
• 1 cup rye flour
• 1 cup white whole-wheat flour
• 4 cups bread flour in all
• 2 tbsp yeast
• 1 tbsp salt
• 2 Tbsp vital gluten
• 1 tsp diastatic malt (optional, but helpful)
• 1 tbsp best quality cinnamon
• 2 ½ cups milk, heated*
• 2 tbsp butter
• 2 tbsp honey
• 1 cup broken pecans
• scant cup gold raisins
• scant cup dried cranberries
Optional: 2 Tbsp melted butter and some coarse turbinado sugar
Note: I use organic whole milk; if you use a low-fat milk, add some butter.
1. Set up the mixer with the dough hook.
2. Put 2 cups of the bread flour and the rest of the flours and dry ingredients into the bowl, give it a stir to mix.
3. Heat the milk to 105 degrees F, drop in the butter and let it sit a minute until the butter is mostly melted. Add the honey, stir to mix, then pour the liquids into the bowl containing the dry ingredients. With a spoon or spatula, roughly stir to incorporate, then machine-knead 5 to 10 minutes.
4. Put the fruits and pecans into a small bowl or a bag, then add a little of the remaining 2 cups of bread flour into the mix. Stir or shake to give a light coating, which keeps the fruit separated and nicely suspended in the dough.
5. Now, add the fruits and nuts to bowl of dough. Stir with the mixer until they’re mixed in and then add some of the remaining flour, mix and add more of the flour until you have a soft, but firm, dough that will clear the sides of the bowl. (You may not use all of the flour.)
6. Put the dough into your greased rising bucket or bowl and let it rise until almost doubled. The dough won’t fully double, because 3 cups of it is fruits and nuts.
7. Turn the dough onto your floured kneading board, give it a few turns and divide in half. Form two fat loaves and put into your well seasoned bread pans.
8. Allow the bread to rise again, covered, until it’s nearly doubled and nicely rounded over the top of the pan. Allow it time — all that fruit slows it down.
9. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
10. For a shiny, crunchy crust, brush the loaves lightly with melted butter, and sprinkle with coarse turbinado sugar. With a lame or very sharp knife, make a couple slashes on the top of the loaves.
Apple Breakfast Bread Recipe
Makes two 9-by-5 loaves
• 4 cups white whole-wheat flour
• 2 tbsp vital gluten
• heaping tsp diastatic malt (optional but helpful)
• 2 tbsp SAF Gold yeast**
• 1 tbsp salt
• 2 tbsp best quality cinnamon
• ½ tsp nutmeg, freshly grated
• 2 cups bread flour in reserve for later
• 2 cups milk*
• 1/4 cup honey
• 2 tbsp boiled cider***
• 2 tbsp butter
• 1 cup dried apple slices, snipped into ½ inch pieces
• 1 cup gold raisins
• 1 cup broken pecans
Optional: 2 tbsp melted butter and some coarse turbinado sugar
* I use organic whole milk; if you use a low-fat milk, add some butter.
** SAF Gold yeast works better for doughs that include a lot of sugar or butter. It’s not absolutely necessary, but nice to have. You can find it online from King Arthur Flour.
*** Boiled cider: the secret ingredient. If you didn’t boil down some cider last fall, you can use frozen apple juice concentrate.
1. Set up mixer with dough hook. Mix the whole-wheat flour and other dried ingredients together in mixer bowl.
2. Heat the milk to very warm then add the honey, cider and butter. The butter will partially melt. Add to the bowl of flour mixture, stir and then knead with mixer on #4 for 15 minutes. The dough should be smooth.
3. In a small bowl or bag, mix the fruits and nuts, then add a little of the bread flour and stir or toss to lightly coat (this helps to keep them well distributed in the dough). Add to the dough, stir in until well distributed, then gradually add the rest of the bread flour to the dough. Hold back some of the flour — you may not need all of it.
4. With the mixer set on 4, knead until the dough is smooth and cleans the bowl. If the dough still seems too soft, add flour a spoonful at a time until the dough cleans the bowl.
5. Put the dough into your greased rising bucket or bowl and let it rise until almost doubled. (The dough won’t fully double, because 3 cups of it is fruits and nuts.)
6. Turn the dough onto your floured kneading board, give it a few turns, and divide in half. Form two fat loaves and put into your well seasoned bread pans.
7. Allow the bread to rise again, covered, until it’s nearly doubled and nicely rounded over the top of the pan. Allow the loaves time to rise — all that fruit slows it down.
8. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
9. For a shiny, crunchy crust, brush the loaves lightly with melted butter, and sprinkle with coarse turbinado sugar. With a lame or very sharp knife make a couple slashes on the top of the loaves.
10. Bake the loaves for about 50 minutes. If they seem to be browning too fast, you can tent them with foil. The loaves are ready when an instant read thermometer reads 195 degrees F. Turn the loaves out of the pans onto a wire rack and let cool completely before slicing.
11. Wrap as air-tight as possible to freeze.
White Chocolate Apricot Bread
Makes 3 boules, approx 8 inches round
The dough for this bread is delightful. Because of the chocolate, it feels like modeling clay, smooth and elastic. You won’t want to toast this — the chocolate will make a mess of the toaster. Rather, spread the slices with cream cheese or labneh for an elegant treat.
• 6 cups bread flour in all
• 2 tbsp SAF Gold yeast*
• 2 tsp diastatic malt (opt but helpful)
• scant tbsp salt
• ¼ cup organic sugar
• 12 ounces white chocolate bar
• 2 cups hot water from the tap
• 8 ounces dried apricots
• a little milk to brush the top of the loaves
• (Optional: a bit of coarse turbinado sugar)
* SAF Gold yeast works better for doughs that include a lot of sugar or butter. It’s not absolutely necessary, but nice to have. You can find it online from King Arthur Flour.
1. Prepare the chocolate: cut about ½ cup of little chunks, about ¼ inch. Then, grate the rest of the bar to make 1 cup of grated chocolate. Set aside the chunks.
2. Set up mixer with dough hook.
3. Put 4 cups of the flour and the remaining dry ingredients including the grated chocolate into the mixer bowl and stir to mix.
4. Add the hot water and mix together and then knead on #4 with the dough hook for 5 minutes.
5. Add the remaining 2 cups flour to make a medium-textured elastic dough. Knead until smooth and developed, another 10 minutes or so. The dough will clean the bowl.
6. Put the dough into your rising tub or bowl and allow to rise until doubled, about an hour.
7. Meantime, snip the dried apricots with scissors into quarters.
8. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured board, knead a few times and pat the dough out to about 12-by-12 inches. The dough should be satiny with a lovely, smooth texture.
9. Embed the apricot pieces and the white chocolate chunks into the dough, pressing them in. Fold the dough and fold again a few times to distribute the chips and apricots. Divide the dough into halves or thirds and form smooth balls, making them rather tall so the loaves bake into a round shape.
10. Allow the loaves to rise, covered, until doubled. About halfway through the rise, use a lame or very sharp knife to cut a cross into the top of the loaf to allow for full rise.
11. Brush with milk to soften the crust. Sprinkle if you wish with a bit of turbinado sugar. Bake at 350 degrees F until the loaves are golden. Thermometer reading 190 degrees.
My Favorite Flour Brands
King Arthur: Bread flour, white whole-wheat and many specialty flours and special ingredients
Homestead Heritage Grist Mill: Freshly ground red whole-wheat, white whole-wheat and corn meals. Grown without chemical input. Note you can purchase wholesale in 10-pound bags. I get it “unsifted” so all the bran is in it.
Azure Farm: Organic. A huge selection of flours including kamut, teff, einkorn, whole rye, and just about any other flour you can imagine. Also, all kinds of beans and other staples.
Wendy Akin is a happy to share her years of traditional skills knowledge. Over the years, she’s earned many state fair ribbons for pickles, relishes, preserves and special condiments, and even a few for breads. Read all of Wendy’s MOTHER EARTH NEWS posts here.
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