Sunday, October 29, 2006

New Zealand Almond and Fig Bread

Sunday, October 29, 2006
Another bread that I kneaded by hand instead of by mixer. It's been two weeks now--the promised repair time--and I'm still KitchenAid-less. I am getting better at kneading by hand, though, and today I managed to be downright stingy with the amount of extra flour I kneaded in.
When I first paged through The Bread Bible, this bread looked too fancy for me, with the figs, the two kinds of almonds, and the apricot glaze. The figs especially worried me, because it's hard to get fresh figs in flyover land. On a closer reading, however, I realized that all I needed was dried figs, which are really not that much fancier than raisins. And the two kinds of almonds were hardly exotic--sliced and slivered. And the apricot glaze was just apricot preserves and water. I can handle that.

This bread is made with a combination of bread and whole wheat flours, which is a winning combination, providing a sturdier, more flavorful crumb than you get with all-purpose flour. The almonds add a satisfying crunch and the figs marry perfectly with the almonds. I wondered if the apricot glaze would be gilding the lily--just one step too many. But it turned out to add just a hint of additional sweetness and a beautiful shine. We each had more than one piece, served with Maytag blue, this afternoon, along with cappuccino. (No wine for me this afternoon--I'm working on an oral argument for tomorrow morning at the Minnesota Supreme Court, and I need all the lucidity I can muster).
I have only five breads left to make--and one of them is the most fearful of them all--the croissant. I can't put it off much longer.


Rose Levy Beranbaum said...

oh my--you are the ONLY person on a blog or website or e-mail for that matter who makes me laugh out loud. fly over land indeed--and figs being no more exotic than raisins. how i love your point of view. and how magnificent the outcome. what a good idea--maytag blue with the fib bread.--that's a funy slip--think i'll leave it.

about those croissant--i always get nervous when making them bc as i wrote, the butter always breaks through which turns out to make them more tender but is non-the less unnerving while it's happening. but when all is said and baked there is no better tasting croissant than this one coming out of your own oven...youuu'll see. only five left...unbelievabe. i do think you should print out and bind the blog into a little book. i'll buy one!

Chubbypanda said...

Now that is a thing of beauty. I'm already imagining what to pair it with. Brie and a bit of prosciutto? Carambola and arugula? Stilton and walnuts. I've got to make me one of those!!!

Doughadear said...

I have been following your blog now for about a month and I am enjoying your adventures. My hat goes off to you for taking on such an ambition project and your almost there! I am an avid bread baker bordering on obsessive and I have baked some of the breads that I might not have because of your great pictures and funny stories. I think Rose’s suggestion of a blog book is great. I would buy one too, it would make a great companion to the Bread Bible.

breadbasketcase said...

I remember watching Julia Child making croissants--in awe--and telling myself that I could never do that. One of the great things about getting older is that for some reason it's easier to say, "oh, what the hell, I might as well try" than it used to be. So that's the frame of mind I'm trying to work myself into.

breadbasketcase said...

Chubby Panda,
Those all sound like marvelous combinations. Fortunately, I have some of the fig bread tucked away in the freezer, so I'll be able to try something different. It's also very good with just butter.

breadbasketcase said...

Doughadear (cute),
An obsessive bread baker! Now that's a personality I can relate to. I appreciate the compliment of the book idea, although I think there might be a rather limited market for such a book.

Julie said...

Hi there,

Since you only have 5 breads left, I just wanted to tell you I really enjoy your blog. I don't remember to check in all the time on your progress but whenever I do, I realize it is because I can't sleep and I surf the web and end up here because something about your writing as well as the bread making is just really comforting. And this is coming from a person who doesn't really care for bread much. (although I do like paratha and may attempt to make that since it sounded so good).

So, thank you. I will keep reading if you decied to follow through with another theme/book/more bread!

breadbasketcase said...

Thank you Julie,
Although my husband thinks you're telling me I put you to sleep, I'm choosing not to read your note that way, although I do hope that your sleepless web-surfing nights don't happen that often.

Lien said...

this bread is really delicious. I've made it once too. Really recommendable to try!!!