You won't find bits of date in the bread. The dried dates are pureed and used as natural sweetener.
You won't find any siliver coin or ring inside neither. (Some cultures hide a valuable item inside food as a celebration to a festival)
What inside is really special to me ... licorice nuances with hints of clove and citrus (from clementine's zest). None of the scent is striking, just lingering nicely on the palate. The texture is meant to be dense, that's why I used whole wheat flour all the way. Cut a thin slice, it's served good with swiss cheese.
May the new year enrich your life!Although whole wheat flour yields a denser bread than that from a mixture of whole wheat and normal flour, if we knead the dough a bit more, and let it rise a longer time (which also results a more profund flavor), both will help the crumb turn out nicer.
Fennel, spice, walnut-n-date wheat loaf
(yield one 12 x 16cm loaf)
- 1/4 cup boiling water
- 5 dates, stoned, finely diced
- 5.5 g dry yeast
- 370 g whole wheat flour
- 170 ml whole milk, lukewarm (prepare a little more as whole wheat absorbs well)
- 1 Tbp butter, soft
- 1/2 tsp raw brown sugar (I added extra sugar as the dates I used not very sweet)
- a pinch of salt
- 1 tsp fennel seeds
- 2 whole cloves, ground
- zest from 2 clementine
- nuts from 5 walnuts, shelled, finely chopped
- Soak the dried dates in the boiling water for 5 minutes, puree.
- Combine the flour, the date liquid, the yeast, milk, butter, raw brown sugar, salt, fennel seeds, ground cloves and clementine's zest, form a very moist dough, cover and rest for 10 minutes so give time for the flour to absorb the liquid.
- Knead the dough until it's smooth. It won't feel very elastic like a dough with normal flour, and it won't be that easy to knead. Just give it extra time in kneading, it will soften finally. Grease a bowl, place the dough inside, cover with plastic film, let it rise overnight (or 12 hours) in the lowest shelf of the fridge.
- Next day, in room temperature, add the chopped walnut to the dough, knead it again, probably you need to knead 20 minutes in order to turn the dough soft again. Shape it to a loaf. To create the two-tone crust, cut out two long strips from a piece of foil, lay them on the dough, tuck the ends under the dough. Place the dough into a 11 x 15cm pre-grease pan, cover with moist towel, let it rise in room temperature of 25 - 27 C for an hour, or until the dough looks very puffy.
- Pre-heat the oven to 170C (mine has a turbo function, adjust yours accordingly). Brush milk on the top of the dough, bake it for 25 minutes, loosely cover with a piece of foil if the bread browns too quick. Tap the base if it sounds hollow, the bread is done then.
- Remove the alum strips. After cool off, cut the loaf to thin slices, top with good quality swiss cheese. The wheat bread stores well in fridge 3 days. If you think you won't finish the bread by then, I advise you to freeze it (cut into smaller portions first so you just thaw what you need).
---------------------------------------- Happy New Year -------------------------------------------