This bread came about because I had some dried Turkish apricots in my fridge. I had bought them sometime back to make apricot bread and had actually forgotten about them! Now, I have a thing about keeping the least possible amount of food in my fridge and tend to keep clearing it out regularly. So it is very rarely that something stays in my fridge for so long without being used up.
Last month, I rediscovered those dried apricots in my fridge and decided it was time I put them to good use. I personally like eating them just as they are, slightly chewy and mildly sweet with just a hint of tang.
I decided to make bread with the apricots, as I had originally planned. Since I didn't have any particular recipe in mind, I adapted the yeasted bread recipe from one of my favourite bread books, The Tassajara Bread Book by Edward Espe Brown. This book doesn't have the usual glossy look or attractive pictures one finds in most cookbooks today, but I like the simple manner in which recipes are presented with the variations that are possible with each recipe.
This recipe makes a nice and soft bread/ bread rolls which isn't very crusty but with a faint sweetness that comes from the apricots. The bread also slices well and is excellent when toasted and buttered.
For the sponge:
1 3/4 cups lukewarm milk (you might need a little less or more)
3/4 tbsp active dry yeast
2 tbsp honey
2 cups whole wheat flour
For the dough:
sponge from above
2 tsp salt
2 tbsp oil
1 cup chopped dried apricots
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
extra flour for kneading
Soak the chopped apricots in a little water for about 15 minutes. Drain and keep aside.
In a big and deep bowl, dissolve the yeast in the warm milk. Add the honey and the wheat flour and stir well, with a wooden spoon, to form a thick batter. The book suggests 100 strokes of beating the batter!
Keep aside and allow to rise for about 45 minutes to an hour.
Now fold in the salt and oil. Add the all purpose flour and mix well with spoon. Turn out the dough onto a wooden board and knead, with your hands, to form a smooth elastic dough. Dust with flour as required to prevent the dough from sticking.
Using your hands flatten the dough (shape doesn't matter) and sprinkle the chopped apricots on it. Roll up the dough, like a swiss/ jelly roll, and knead again just enough to ensure the apricot pieces are uniformly distributed in the dough.
Place in an oiled bowl, coating the dough with oil. Cover and allow to rise till double in size, for about an hour.
Press down the dough and reshape into a ball. Put the dough back into the bowl and allow it to rise again till double, for yet another hour or so.
Shape the dough into rolls or a loaf. I shaped half the dough into rolls and the other half into a loaf. Place the rolls on a lightly greased sheet (or put the loaf into a greased tin) and allow to rise for about 20 to 25 minutes.
Brush the tops with milk and bake at 190C for about 30 to 35 minutes, or until golden brown.
Remove from the sheet/ tin and cool on a rack. Wait until the bread is completely cool before slicing.
Serve for breakfast with coffee/ tea or like I did, with Rustic Red Lentil soup. I found the mild hint of sweetness of this bread balanced the spicy, creamy soup very well.
This recipe makes 8 rolls, or 4 rolls and a small loaf, or 2 small loaves, or 1 big loaf.
I'm sending these apricot rolls and bread to be YeastSpotted!