Monday, July 07, 2008

Spiced Pecan Toasting Bread

Sunday, July 6, 2008
Our July Lazy Bakers No Rules Club assignment was a pecan bread from Sunset Magazine. Melinda suggested it, but then remembered it wasn't her turn. I asked her how we could turns if we had no rules, so she typed out the recipe and sent it to the other Lazy Bakers. Who knows if anyone will get around to baking it? But as I've already told Melinda, I actually like rules, and so I want to bake the July assignment in July. Preferably early July so I can cross it off my List of Things to Do.

Spiced Pecan Toasting bread
(From Sunset Magazine April 2008)

Prep and baking time:4 hours
Makes 2 8 inch loaves

2 Tablespoons active dry yeast
2 Tablespoons honey
3 eggs
6 to 7 cups bread flour, divided, plus more for shaping
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup dark brown sugar
1/2 cup dried low-fat or nonfat milk
4 teaspoons salt
1 Tablespoon vanilla extract
2 teaspoons ground cardamon
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1 1/2 cups chopped pecans
Butter for bowls and pans

1.) In a bowl of a stand mixer, dissolve yeast and honey in 1 1/2 cups warm water (90 to 105F).
Let sit until foamy, about 5 minutes.

2.) Attach dough hook and with mixer on medium, mix in 2 eggs, 2 cups bread flour, the whole-wheat flour, brown sugar, dried milk, salt, vanilla, cardamon, cinnamon, pepper, nutmeg and pecans. Add remaining 4 to 5 cups bread flour, 1/2 cup at a time, until dough pulls away from the inside of the bowl. Knead ( with mixer on medium) until smooth and elastic, adding more flour as necessary to keep dough from sticking too much. When ready, dough should feel a bit like an earlobe when you pinch it.

3.)Transfer dough to a large, lightly buttered bowl. Cover with a clean towel or plastic wrap and let sit until doubled in bulk, about 1 1/2 hours. Meanwhile butter two 8 inch loaf pans and set aside.

4.) Punch down dough, divide in half, and on a lightly floured surface, shape each half into an 8 inch oblong loaf. Put dough in pans, cover and let sit until doubled in bulk; about 1 hour.

5.) Preheat oven to 350F/180C. In a small bowl, beat remaining egg with 2 tablespoons water.
Brush dough with egg wash and bake until brown, about 35 minutes. Remove loaves from pans (they are done if they sound hollow when tapped on the bottom) and cool on wire racks.

Toasted and buttered, this bread reminds me of freshly baked cinnamon rolls. We recommend it with a cup of coffee or tea and some charming company. (Sunset's introduction about this bread. [I suppose in bad company this bread might make them more tolerable.--Melinda's words].

This is not a difficult bread to make at all, although I was puzzled by the instruction: "When ready, dough should feel a bit like an earlobe when you pinch it." What does the "it" refer to? One's earlobe or the bread? Or both? And I don't seem to have a lot of experience in earlobe-pinching because the feel I was looking for was not immediately clear to me, even though I reached up and pinched my earlobe several times, and then pinched the bread. Honestly, the dough didn't feel like my earlobe at all. I asked Jim if I could pinch his earlobe, just as a control, but he turned me down.

I was also a little wary of the two whole teaspoons of cardamom in the recipe--a lot of cardamom, which has a very distinctive taste. It actually wasn't too much, although you could certainly taste it. The other problem was that the recipe makes two loaves of bread, and specifies two eight-inch loaf pans. Although I have a number of loaf pans, it turns out that no two of them are the same size. So I made one loaf in an eight-inch pan and one in a too-large pan.

See how it doesn't quite fill up the pan?
I applied the egg glaze very liberally, and it made the loaves super-shiny.

The proof of the pudding is in the tasting, and the proof of a toasting bread is in the toasting. I can't say that the bread really reminded me of "freshly baked cinnamon rolls," as the recipe's description says. It reminded me more of toasted nut bread with apricot jam.

Not that that's a bad thing. Also, I can't say that I had "charming company" since I was eating breakfast by myself.
Although I mixed the dough in my KitchenAid with the dough hook, the pecans did not get evenly distributed, and the bread that I gave away had more pecans in it than the one I kept for myself. I also don't think that the cardamom got thoroughly distributed. I blame all this on my inability to concentrate on anything besides the earlobe comparison. If you make this bread, I recommend that you not think about earlobes.


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Melinda said...

Well. You sure made this one quickly. You are not taking the lazy part of the club seriously. I hope you played brass band music while baking this.
I was wondering if the earlobe part would catch your imagination! It kind of creeped me out when I thought about it.
I have two loaf pans too but, like you, they are not the same size either! If you could see how many darn pans I can I not have two 8 inch loaf pans?
Your bread looks gorgeous, as usual.
I am sorry we couldn't share each other's company over some of this toasted pecan bread. I am sure the conversation would be sparlkling...even at 7 am!

evil cake lady said...

You sure did make this one quickly! I'm still trying to make the poundcake!

I am now forewarned not to freak out about the earlobe thing...and my goal is to make a bread that tastes either like cinnamon rolls or toasted nut bread with whatever jam I put on it. Good to know--thanks BBC.

Anonymous said...

Nice to see what we are aiming for! I like to see pictures of what I am making and now I've got one, or two or three! i am still assembling the ingredients needed but hope to make it soon, thanks for showing us the way. Jeannette.

jini said...

i would recommend giving away half loaves in the future. then you can check them out and keep the nuttiest for you and jim.
it looks delicious as always.

breadbasketcase said...

I love projects! I love deadlines! I love rules! I love lists of things to do! What can I say? Yes, I think the earlobe comment is the work of some pervert working at Sunset.

I haven't made any bread for a while, so when Melinda sent the recipe, I couldn't wait to try it. I think you'll like this and the poundcake.

If you have two loaf pans the same size, yours will look better than mine.

Now that's a good idea. A half a loaf is better than none, I guess.

Chai18 said...

ear lobes??? the only way they could think to describe it was ear lobes!?!? how strange

Doughadear said...

I have heard of comparing dough to a baby's behind but never ear lobes! I think I prefer the former. Comparisons aside your loaves turned out beautifully.

breadbasketcase said...

Yes, very strange indeed.

Well, I didn't have a baby's bottom around to compare, but, aesthetically speaking, I prefer that comparison.