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TBB - Swedish Apricot Walnut Bread

Rose's Alpha Bakers

TBB - Swedish Apricot Walnut Bread

Patricia Reitz

Swedish Apricot Walnut Bread - ButterYum

Today Rose's Alpha Bakers share our 10th selection as we bake our way through The Baking Bible.  As a reminder, the recipes made during this project are not being shared, but I will share my commentary about each recipe, followed by a full photo tutorial.  NOTE:  a variation of this recipe has been published here.

This week's selection - Swedish Apricot Walnut Bread.  My intended taste testers for this bread included a person who is allergic to nuts so I omitted them.  

Special ingredients and/or equipment needed - pumpernickel or coarse rye flour, half sheet panparchment paper, dried apricots, golden raisins, walnuts.

Optional ingredients and/or equipment suggested - digital scaledigital instant read thermometer, bread proofing box, clean spray bottle, shallow disposable foil pan.

How does it taste - Better than expected, especially when paired with a very ripe triple creme brie.  

How does it look - As a whole loaf, it's nothing to write home about, however, when sliced, this bread's stunning beauty is revealed.      

Level of difficulty - Intermediate.

Were the directions clear - Yes.

What would I do differently next time - Soak the dried fruit to plump them a bit, and I think the bread would look lovely if you replaced some of the golden raisins with dark raisins or dried cranberries.  

Next up - Golden Orange Panettone, February 9, 2015.   

Okay, here's my photo tutorial.  Disclamer - this recipe was photographed over the course of two days, at all different times of the day - please forgive the horrid nighttime pics.

I wasn't able to find pumpernickel flour or coarse rye flour, but I did find stone ground rye.  The recipe also calls for gold medal bread flour - it's much easier to find.   By the way, Rose apparently told one of the Alpha Bakers that the rye flour can be replaced with the same amount of bread flour, so there you go. 

Okay, this recipe begins with a biga made with both flours.

and salt.

and instant or rapid rise yeast.

Whisk those ingredients together in a small bowl.

Add room temperature water.

Stir to form a soft dough.  The directions say, "stir for 3-5 minutes", but it's kind of weird to stir a solid mass for so long.  I probably did it for a minute or so before I declared the step done.

Transfer the biga to a 2-cup container that has been sprayed with nonstick cooking spray.

Cover and let the biga sit at room temperature for 6 hours.

I had to release the excess gas from my container a couple times - probably wouldn't have needed to do that if I had covered my container with plastic wrap.

6 hours have passed - the biga has risen and developed a lovely yeasty aroma.  We're going to need this biga in a minute, but first we need to weigh the dried fruit.

Don't be alarmed that my golden raisins look a little green - it was the light in the room.

Here are the dried apricots.  I'm not generally a fan of dried apricots, but I really liked them in this recipe.  

Okay, now for the fun part.  Place room temperature water in the bowl of a stand mixer. Using sharp scissors, cut the biga into small pieces and place them in the bowl.

Next we add more bread flour and yeast.

Mix on low for 1 minute.

Add more salt and mix on medium speed for 7 minutes.


Cover bowl with plastic wrap and allow to sit at room temperature for 20 minutes.

Then add the golden raisins (and nuts if you're using them).  Mix on low for 1 more minute.

This blob of dough is starting to look good - transfer it to a 2-quart container that has been coated with nonstick cooking spray and allow it to double in size - approximately 1 to 1.5 hours.  You can do this at room temperature, or use a bread proofing box if you have one.  

Rose suggested a temperature of 75F to 85F so I split the difference.

My dough reached the proper height in about an hour.

Press the risen dough into a rectangle, stretching the 4 sides as needed.  Fold the 4 sides in toward the center of the dough.

Then flip it over and tuck the corners under.

The dough is then returned to the 2-quart container and you can either let it double in size at room temperature for 45 - 60 minutes, or let it rest in the refrigerator overnight.

I chose the overnight rest, which actually ended up being 12 hours.

Time to shape the loaf.  I incorporate less flour when I use a pastry cloth so I pulled mine out.

Dump out the dough

Press dough down to flatten it.

Cover and rest for 1 hour if the dough was refrigerated (20 minutes if not).

Place a baking stone on the bottom rack of the oven.  Place a sheet pan or cast iron pan lined with foil on the oven floor.  Crank the heat up to 450F for at least 45 minutes before baking.

One word of caution here.  The pan on the oven floor is going to take quite a bit of abuse.   I chose to use my vegetable roasted pan.  It's my "sacrificial" pan - the one that I don't mind how abused or burnt or bent or beat up it gets.  It was a good choice on my part because throwing ice cubes on that 450F pan caused it to warp instantly.  My cast iron skillets were too tall to fit under the baking rack so that wasn't an option.  I might suggest getting a disposable foil pan or try making your own disposable pan out of a couple layers of heavy duty foil. 

Press dough into a rectangle.

Fold the top corners down about 3 inches.

Stagger the dried apricots just below the folds.  I weighed the exact amount of apricots, but ended up adding one more to make it look pretty.  I also didn't place the apricots all the way to the edges of the dough because I was concerned doing so would prevent the loaf from staying closed.  Not sure that really mattered, but that's what I was thinking. 

Start rolling from the top down - roll tightly.

Pinch the seam well to seal.

Place the loaf, seam side down, on a parchment lined sheet pan and cover with plastic wrap that has been coated with cooking spray.  I don't think the recipe specified seam side down, but it seemed like the logical thing to do.

I used a quarter sheet pan because it fits inside my bread proofing box.  Rise for 45 - 60 minutes.  

Time to slash the dough with 1/2-inch deep slits.  I don't have a lame, so I used a new retractable box cutter that I purchased to use in the kitchen.  I pushed the blade out until it reached 1/2-inch long.

Okay, so I need to hone my dough slashing skills.  The top slash doesn't quite have the right angle.   Grr.  

Okay, I'm over it.  Time to mist the loaf with water.

Then pop the loaf into the screaming hot oven, toss the ice cubes into the pan on the oven floor, and quickly close the oven door.  Bake for 5 minutes, then lower the heat to 400F and continue baking for 30-40 minutes.

The bread is done when an internal temperature of 205F is reached.

Cool the bread on a wire rack for 2 full hours before slicing.   I liked the brown color achieved, but I was surprised the bread didn't rise a bit more in the oven.

No problem thought - this bread is fantastic.   I served it with a generous schmear of really ripe triple creme brie - flavor match made in heaven!

links to more alpha baker photo tutorials