BYOB - Bake Your Own Bread!
Making your own bread is so satisfying. Once you have mastered the basics, it's easy to be creative and play around with what you have in your pantry. You can control exactly what goes into the bread - no weird additives and chemicals - and there's something very calming about kneading a dough and then letting it fill your house with the most wonderful smell as it transforms to bread in the oven. And then eating the fruits of your labor, warm and fresh out of the oven, with just some butter and maybe together with a cup of tea...
Tonight, I wanted to make a carrot bread from one of my favourite cookbooks, Citrusköket by Caroline Hofberg. It's a beautiful book filled with really inspiring recipes, all containing some kind of citrus fruit. There's recipes for main courses, both fish, poultry and meat, for side dishes and salads, for marmalade and curd, for deserts, cookies and bread. Such a lovely book - unfortunately I think it's only available in Swedish. The carrot bread recipe I wanted to try contained orange zest and dried and ground peel from bitter orange. Unfortunately the carrots in the pantry had gone bad, so I decided to use grated apples instead of carrots. Since I had already departed from the original recipe, I went digging around the pantry and added whatever appealed to me. I ended up with quite a bit of fiber (flax seed, oats) and used graham flour rather than rye as the original recipe said. The dried apricots was Markus' idea. Try to use good organic apricots that haven't been treated with sulfur - they will naturally be brown rather than bright orange, and they taste much better. The apples don't give any real taste, but they really add to the texture. This bread is best eaten fresh but freezes well and can be reheated carefully.
Apple bread with apricots
Makes 4 loaves
5o g fresh yeast (1 packet in Sweden)
5 dl water
Pinch of salt
1 tbsp aniseed (I used whole seeds and bashed them up using a mortar and pestle)
Zest from one small orange
2 tbsp rapeseed oil
1 tbsp honey
2 dl grated apples (about 3, squeeze out as much of the liquid as possible)
4 dl graham flour
~8 dl wheat flour with extra gluten (Vetemjöl Special in Swedish)
½ dl flax seeds
1 dl oats
1 dl walnuts, chopped
1 dl dried apricots (~8), cut in small pieces
Crumble the yeast into a big bowl. Heat the water to finger temperature (37 degrees C). Dissolve the yeast in the water. Add the rest of the ingredients, but leave some of the wheat flour for baking. Work the dough vigourously by hand or in a machine until the dough is elastic but still a bit sticky. Let it rise for one hour, covered with a cloth. Get the dough onto a lightly floured surface, but don't knead it. Just divide it into four equal parts, and shape them into twisted, long and narrow loafs. Don't try to make them perfect, they should look rustic and home made! Place them on a parchment covered baking sheet, cover with the cloth again and let them rest for 30 minutes. Set the oven to 250 degrees C. Bake the bread in the middle of the oven for about 15 minutes. Let them cool on a wire rack.