Fig and Walnut Bread
My summer is coming to an end and with it my time in the mountains. When I come to a new place to live I like to warm the kitchen with an oven full of homemade bread, beginning my time there with good food and memories. But, I believe there is something to saying goodbye to a place with a couple of warm loaves, as well. These loaves bring finality to a memorable summer of friends, family, the outdoors, self-reflection, and new experiences. They are the last products of my treasured ritual of baking bread every week. They hold the last energy from my kneading with tanned arms, the last heat from the glorious August sunrays, the last stray ingredients from my cupboard, and the last bites of summer relaxation. So, as my parting farewell to these mountains I love, I baked these loaves filled with gratitude for the time I was given to spend here. I leave tomorrow to return to the east coast. These loaves and the memories they hold will travel with and sustain me through the journey.
This recipe is adapted from the Cherry-Pecan Loaves from the Wild Yeast Blog. For lack of cherries & pecans, I substituted figs and walnuts.
Also, I am proud to contribute to this week’s YeastSpotting at the Wild Yeast Blog. Make sure to check out the blog for other delicious creations made this week.
Fig & Walnut Bread
Yield: 1 kg (two small loaves)
119 g all-purpose flour (I used Hungarian High Altitude)
74 g water
1/16 teaspoon instant yeast
All of sponge, cut into about 8 smaller pieces
119 g all-purpose flour
238 g white whole wheat flour (I used King Arthur Flour)
273 g water
2.3 g (3/4 teaspoon) instant yeast
10 g salt
15 g honey
79 g coarsely chopped, toasted, & cooled walnuts
79 g figs chopped into ~cm-sized pieces (I used mission figs, but Turkish or Calmyra would be delicious as well.)
Combine all of the sponge ingredients and knead until thoroughly combine. Cover and let rest at room temperature for 12-16 hours. The sponge will be ready to use when it has risen to twice its original volume.
Combine the sponge with the water & honey. Stir to loosen the sponge. To the sponge-water mixture and the rest of the final ingredients except the walnuts and fig. Knead until the dough reaches a medium level of gluten development. Add the walnuts and figs and continue to knead until the walnut and figs are evenly distributed.
Transfer the dough to an oiled container. Ferment at room temperature for 2-2.5 hours with folds at 30, 60, & 90 minutes.
Turn the dough out onto a floured work surface and divide into two pieces approximately 500 g each. Preshape the pieces of dough into loose balls. Cover the dough balls and let rest for 20 minutes.
Shape the pieces of dough into batards or boules. Place the loaves seam-side-up in floured proofing baskets and let proof at room temperature for 1.5 hours.
While the loaves are proofing, preheat the oven to 500 F with baking stones and a steam pan.
When the loaves are ready to bake, turn them onto a peel sprinkled with semolina flour, score them, and place in the oven with steam. Once the loaves are in the oven, turn the temperature down to 450 F. Bake for 12 minutes with steam and another 16 without steam. Turn off the oven, crack the door, and leave the loaves in for 5 more minutes.
Remove the loaves from the oven and cool completely on a wire rack before eating