Thursday, October 18, 2012

the fruits of our labors

my biggest complaint about artisan bakers is that there is not enough fruit or nuts in their fruit nut breads. but given the expense, i understand their moderate hand. i don't know why i'm bellyaching about it now. i've not purchased so much as a single slice of bread since i started this blog a year and sevenish months ago.

luxury bread

today i'm posting one of my absolute favorite loaves with you. i call her my luxury bread, because she's the most ambrosial loaf in my repertoire and the only one that i anthropomorphize. while i love all my breads dearly, she's got to be the queen of the bunch. and when i occasion to bake her up, i feel like nothing on earth could be better than the moment i sink my teeth into a slice (ok, maybe i shouldn't anthropomorphize). i defy you to disagree.

here's the scoop. you will need two types of nut and four different varieties of dried fruit. not. negotiable. if you try to cut corners, well, then you ain't makin' luxury bread.

you might have noticed that this venture won't be cheap, what with 250g of the fruit, and another 150g of nuts - pecan and wal. yeah. but if you get your goods from trader joes, you will have plenty leftover from the first go round to knead up a few more loaves.. if you can keep yourself from snacking on your stash. i never can.

bench & shape

a few caveats with this loaf: doing the turns is impossible. no, not difficult, impossible. the dough is SOLID, and when you (try to) do them (because yeah, you still have to), you will think you've gone mad, (or i've gone mad for conjuring up this beast, royalty that she is) but by golly, we must forge on with that what is most challenging in order to feel deserved of the fruits of our labors.

after you've given up on your turns (they get harder from the start), trying to shape the bread will drive you bonkers because you have to keep as much of the 400g of fruits and nuts inside the dough as you can so that you don't end up with a surplus of burned goodies on the crust after its gone through a pretty long bake. but you can do it. and after you've had your first bite, you will forget about the pain that you endured and revel in the sheer luxury of it. see, luxury bread.

forget about pannetone for christmas, this is what you should be baking for people this year. it's pure luxury... so you should eat it all the time.




make your levain:

37g 100% rye, 100% hydration starter
50g h2o
50g organic dark rye flour, i used BRM dark rye

mix it all up, ferment for 7.5 hours


137g levain
310g KA organic A/P
100g KA organic bread flour
90g BRM organic dark rye flour
330g h2o
62.5g each: golden raisins, thompsons raisins, dried cherries, apricots (chopped)
75g pecans
75g walnuts
10g salt

first things first, toast the nuts. put the fruit in a glass measure and fill with boiling hot water. steep 30 minutes, then drain. set all this aside.

mix the levain with the water and the flours until you reach a shaggy mass. autolyse for 1 hour.

after the dough has gone through full autolyse, squish the salt in into the dough with your fingers, then dump the COOLED nuts and fruit in and fold it into the dough. i know, i know, it's going to seem like too much. it's not. ready for bulk fermentation.


for the first two hours of the bulk fermentation, perform a series of turns every half hour. i know, it's nutty (literally), and its going to be impossible. just do the best you can. that's all anyone can ask of you in life.

before bulk fermentation

for the last two hours of the bulk fermentation, pop the dough into the fridge and let it do its thing, unmolested.

after bulk fermentation


after the bulk fermentation, dust your workspace with brown rice flour and scrape the dough over it. sort o' gather it into a loose boule and let it rest for 10 minutes.

after its rested for 10 minutes, shape the dough into a firm boule, making sure that you tuck in any fruit or nut pieces that poke through. i mean, some stick-outs you can't avoid. just do the best you can or they will burn during the bake.

pop this dough into a linen-lined bowl that's been dusted with organic brown rice flour and pop it into the fridge for a 15-hour proof.

you should always be covering your dough, yeah, all the way from levain through proof. i usually just use a plate. you don't have to get crazy with the plastic wrap.


time to bake your queen!

preheat the oven to 550 degrees, outfitted with a baking stone and both pieces of your combo cooker for a full hour.

just before you are ready to bake, pull the dough out of the fridge, score it, slide it into the shallow end of the combo cooker, cover with the fatty part, and steam for 30 minutes at 475 degrees.

after the steam, remove the lid of the combo cooker, lower the heat to 450 (DON'T bake at a higher temp. this loaf takes longer to bake than other loaves, and you will end up with a black bottom if you crank the heat. i think my loaf took.... mmm... 1 hour and 10 minutes or so?) bake until the crust is a chestnut brown, and be sure to turn it for the last 20 minutes of the bake so one side doesn't get darker than the rest. and do try to wait a full hour before tearing into it. it'll be hard, i know...

OH, and, uh, you can double your luxury by increasing your ingredients by two, from levain all the way down to the salt.

to the staff of life!


this post was shared on wild yeast blog's yeast spotting.


  1. amazing. seriously. every post that you do is amazing.

    donny belcham

  2. I have a question - It seems that the bread is denser than usual. I have noticed that you decrease the amount of h2o compare to your usual amount (330gr instead of 365gr). Can you explain why? If you add more water, the dough will be softer and less dense – Isn't it?
    BTW - Great Blog!

    1. Hi Gilad. Well, it's denser because there are 400 grams of fruit and nuts in it. And remember, we soak the fruit, so this contributes to the hydration of the loaf once the fruit gets folded into the bread. You definitely DO NOT want to increase hydration on this loaf, you would end up with a very solid loaf, and this one is already packing on the weight with all the fruit and nuts. Water does not necessarily make a loaf of bread less dense. There are a number of factors that work together that determine the quality of the crumb. PS, this is not meant to be a soft/light/airy bread. This is meant to be a bread with some heft. If you want a less fruit/nut-dense bread, then try cutting the amount of fruit and nuts in half. But don't be quick to add more water at the start. Once you add too much, you can't take it away, and even using half of the amount of soaked fruit will add a substantial bit of water to your loaf. I hope this helps!


      I hope you make this bread. It's pretty amazing.

    2. Oh, one last thing. When you bake bread with walnuts, there is a bitter compound in the skins that stains the crumb dark, so I think you may be noticing 'deceptive density'. There are a fair amount of walnuts in this bread.

      The crumb of this bread actually has a pretty amazing texture. Very moist and just awesome.

      And thanks for the compliment on my blog!

    3. I will defiantly do this bread. I love dried food and walnuts in my bread. Unfortunately my wife doesn't.

  3. Hi there,
    does AP flour stands for all purpose flour?
    if so, why do you prefer using all purpose and not bread flour only?
    you have a great blog which i have been following for the past month with great results and enjoyment

    tel aviv israel

    1. Hi Yariv. you CAN use bread flour. king arthur all purpose flour is very strong flour. it has a much higher protein content than most all purpose flours, as does bobs red mill. a very strong bread flour is good for things like spelt bread that does not have a very high quality protein (though it has a relatively high protein percentage as a whole. you want to be looking at the 'quality' of the protein in a given grain because that is what affects the elasticity of the bread, that is, the strength of it). using a very strong bread flour will tighten the crumb of your bread. so, while you want a flour that has ample elasticity, you don't want to use one that has too much elasticity. i tend to use a mixture of flours for my breads, depending on the type of whole grain im using - spelt, rye, semolina, whole wheat, white winter wheat, etc. since this bread is already laden with tons of fruit, and since it has a relatively low percentage of rye flour in it, i used a combination of A/P and bread flour. using all purpose (a high quality brand though, mind you), flour results in a softer/more tender crumb. adding some bread flour adds some strength to my dough to make up for the rye flour that i use.

      get to know the protein percentage of your flour, and try not to automatically defer to 'bread flour'. just because that's what it says on the bag, it might not be what you need. look up the strength (elasticity v. extensibility) of the whole grain flour that you are using for your breads. even with a primarily white country bread, depending upon the quality of the flour that you are using, you could use ALL A/P.

      i hope all this helps, and thank you for liking the blog. ALWAYS EXPERIMENT. just because i found something that works for me, does not mean that its written in stone. you might like a stronger bread, you might have access to different flours. my blog is largely experimental. i used the tartine book for a while and susans wild yeast blog for the start of all this, then i just branched off on my own and through intuition, the breads that you see on my blog are the breads that i have produced pretty much without guidance. whenever i work with a new flour or grain, i do a little research about the nature of that grain or flour, and about that particular companies milling practices etc. and let that dictate where i go with my bread (i.e., what hydration i use, how much strong flour i need...)

      keep checking back. i am going to be starting with a couple of different new artisan flour companies soon (i have so much KA, BRM, and TYH that i had to run it all out before i started buying 25 pound bags of anything else!)

      keep baking!

    2. and sorry YES, A/P means 'all purpose', BRM means 'bob's red mill, KA means 'king arthur', TYH means 'to your health'.


  4. oh woman... marry me and intoxicate me with all your bread excesses!
    of course I love this loaf and of course I am going to try it soonish.
    yeah, who needs panettone when one can have THIS???
    hopelessly hungry... totally loved these dark shots, the heartiest bread on earth.

  5. Dear Francis-Olive,
    i like your bread very much or is it more an infinitesimal bread making experiment - a borderline walk.
    I like the idea to use as less dough as possible to cover as much as possible dried fruits - excellence! Poor Fruits - want to get out but can't - I would go for a new category - freds (fruits with bread)
    Exciting and Captivation post....

    1. Bernd, I have a confession: when it comes to this bread, I am staunchly American: 'if less is more, then far too much must be awesome!' LOL. I do love my luxury bread, but I only bake it a couple of times a year. As you can imagine, it's quite rich, and too much of it, now thinking with my European mind, is just too American, and far too much! Moderation with regard to frequency of baking, but full on avarice when it comes to the loaf at hand, and thus, there is strike of balance after all.

      PS, your fig bread is incredible. What a crust!

  6. This seems to be a handful of work, but the result looks amazing. Must give this a go some day when I have enough time to be patient with this kind of project. I love these kind of bakings that require a lot of careful work and time - the final product always seems more precious when you have been giving it a bit of love and effort.

  7. Beautiful.. Yummy.. Satisfaction mmm

  8. We've been invited to a Christmas meal and I am SO bringing this bread. :)

    1. I love love this bread! Thank you for the recipe! I doubled the ingredients and made 3 loaves. The dough made me laugh because it was so thick with fruit and nuts. Each one was baked for about 1 hour (30 minutes lid on/30 min lid off). Best crust I've gotten so far. Wonderful flavors from the fruits (I used dark raisins, cherries, apricots and figs) and nuts and rye! I was going to take pictures of my beautiful babies (queen babies!) but.. I forgot. And then they were mostly eaten. Well, next time.

    2. Riikka! you are the one person who makes my bread most often. I LOVE YOU for that! I am so glad that your queen babies turned out so well. Ugh. I'm running out of flours to try. What should I do next??



    3. I'm interested in barley or oat flour.. I see you did a bread with beer, it looks brilliant. (on my to-do list!) If the postage wasn't so much, I would send you some local flours from Finland :-) Rye is abundant and quite cheap. My mom and her boyfriend (er... manfriend?) make a 100% rye bread regularly, with their own sourdough starter.

      I got Tartine Bread as a Christmas present and made two loaves using Chad's recipe but increased the fermentation times a lot (in the fridge). It must have sat there about 20 hours in total while I was at a New Years party and then slept in the next morning. That's what I love about baking bread: the recipes aren't written in stone and you can change them so that they fit into your lifestyle. And it's so easy, the bread is just sitting around and developing flavors and you don't really have to do much to have great bread!

  9. That looks absolutely amazing and delicious. I am so going to prepare this dish and I am going to eat it today.

  10. Can I use honey for this? I want to bake a healthy bread inside out!!! Makes me crave more sweets :D

  11. It looks so tempting. I cannot wait to make this one for my kids. And most of my ingredients that i bought is from online store. I recommend this online store that all their best products are mostly dried fruits and nuts and really best seller. If you have time, you can check this out:

  12. It looks tempting. I cannot wait to make this one for my kids. And most of my ingredients I bought is from online store. I would surely recommend this online store that are best products is mostly nuts and dried fruits are their best seller. If you have time you check this link:

  13. It looks so amazing and delicious. I cannot wait to try this one at home. And I can make this one for my family. I am going to make this recipe with a simple twist by putting some more nuts and dried fruits on it. Most of my ingredients that i bought is from online store. I recommend this online store that has the best dried fruits and nuts. And they are best sellers. If you have time you can stop by on this link.
    Check this out:

  14. Wonderful bread. Try adding nutella spread.

  15. This is still my go-to bread for almost every Christmas. It keeps really well for many days, does not dry out. Probably because of the moisture from the fruit and such. Lots of hugs!!

    1. Yay! Riikka! I'm glad you're well. MERRY CHRISTMAS! XOXOXO



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