So here’s the thing about night shifts. When you get a night off, what ends up happening is you sitting alone at home on your couch watching episode after episode of Modern Family until 4am. I meant to watch True Detective, but that requires a lot of concentration, and my jet-lagged brain isn’t up for that right now.
Want to know the new most disappointing thing that I learned since starting on nights? When you get jet-lag but really you didn’t go anywhere. Still just here. On my couch. Watching hulu.
Do y’all have exciting plans for the 4th? Really I just want one of those red white and blue rocket pops. AND/OR. These slushies. Unfortunately I’ll be working that night, but before you feel TOO sorry for me let me inform you that I’ll be having my own little July 4th celebration with a friend…on July 5th. All the patriotic stuff will be on sale though so we plan on having a blast on the cheap.
The other day during the day when I should have been sleeping but couldn’t I saw Jurassic World. Because dinosaurs eating humans and dinosaurs eating dinosaurs (did anyone else tear up a little when the brontosaurus died? oops spoiler) AND Chris Pratt sounds like the perfect film. And I was not wrong about that. I hope that in my lifetime science advances enough that I can kayak down some river with herbivores hanging out all around me. Clearly I did not learn the lesson of the film, which is that we probs shouldn’t bring dinos back to life.
Anyways. I made this bread last week. I brought back an entire kilogram (that’s 2.2 POUNDS) of dried figs from Turkey and I decided I could spare a few for some baking. I made a legit (like with yeast) loaf of bread, which I haven’t done in a while. It’s full of dried figs (could easily sub in your own favorite dried fruit), toasted pecans, and sesame seeds. It’s perfect with butter…cream cheese…blue cheese…aaaaand peanut butter (separately, not all together). It’s probably perfect with lots of other toppings, but those are the only ones I’ve tried so far. You should be especially inspired to make this because it doesn’t require a starter. You can decide that you need homemade bread RIGHT NOW (or in a few hours), and you can use this recipe. Yay! Bread for all! All for bread!
Fig and Pecan Bread
Makes one large (about 13″) loaf. I actually used my kitchen scale for this one, so I’ll include weights too
1 cup pecans, roughly chopped
1 1/4 cups warm (105-110F) water, plus a little extra if needed
1 envelope (1/4 oz) active dry yeast (rapid rise is fine)
10 oz (about 2 cups) bread flour
5 1/2 oz (about 1 cup) unbleached all-purpose flour
2 tsp salt, plus extra for sprinkling
1 TBS granulated sugar, plus extra for sprinkling
1 1/2 TBS sesame seeds
3/4 cup dried figs, roughly chopped
1 large egg
1. In a large skillet, toast the pecans over medium-low heat until fragrant, about 7-8 minutes. Set aside to let cool.
2. Place the warm water in the bowl of an electric mixer with the paddle attachment. Sprinkle the yeast over the warm water and stir gently to dissolve. Let stand until foamy, about 5 minutes.
3. Add both flours, 2 tsp salt, 1 TBS sugar, and sesame seeds to the yeast mixture. Mix on medium-low until the dough just starts to come together. If it’s too dry (you see lots of extra flour at the bottom of the bowl), add more warm water 1 TBS at a time until it comes together. (I added 1 extra TBS.)
4. Switch to the dough hook attachment. Knead on medium until the dough is smooth and elastic, about 5 minutes. It will be slightly sticky. Add the pecans and figs to the dough and mix on low speed.
5. Lightly oil a large bowl with vegetable oil. Transfer the dough to the bowl and turn the dough to coat lightly with oil. Cover with plastic wrap and a kitchen towel. Let the dough rise in a warm, draft-free place until doubled in size, about 1 hour. (Trick – turn the oven to 400F for 1 minute. Turn OFF the oven and place the dough inside to rise.)
6. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and brush with vegetable oil. When the dough has doubled in bulk, turn it out onto a lightly floured surface. Roll the dough out to a 13×10-inch rectangle with a short side facing you. On the short sides, fold in 1/2-inch flaps. Starting at the top, roll the dough tightly towards you. Roll the loaf gently back and forth to seal the roll (you can also get a little water on your fingers and pinch the seal shut). Transfer the loaf to the prepared baking sheet, cover loosely with plastic wrap and a kitchen towel, and let rise in a warm place for 45 minutes.
7. Preheat the oven to 350F. (If you’re letting your dough rise in there, make sure you take it out first! I’ve made that mistake before…) In a small bowl, beat together the egg and 1 TBS water with a fork. Brush the egg wash on top of the loaf and sprinkle with a little extra salt and sugar.
8. Bake the loaf until the crust is a deep golden brown and a kitchen thermometer registers an interior temp of 190F (this is really the best way to know if bread is done!), about 35-40 mins. Let the loaf cool completely on a wire rack before slicing. Bread will keep tightly wrapped at room temperature for 3 days, or well-wrapped and frozen for 1 month.
Recipe adapted from Martha Stewart’s Baking Handbook
Thanks for reading, happy baking!