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Each Thursday, Emily Vikre (a.k.a fiveandspice) will be sharing a new way to love breakfast -- because breakfast isn't just the most important meal of the day. It's also the most awesome.
Today: A loaf that memories are made of.
A few weeks ago Adam Gopnik had a piece in the New Yorker called “Bread and Women.” It was called that, but it was really more about bread and parenting, two things very near and dear to my heart right now. It was a fantastic piece of writing and reflection -- at least 30% of the sentences were so good I want them cross-stitched on pillows for me to have scattered about the house. I’ll have to hire someone else to do the cross-stitching, though, because even more than decorating pillows with pithy statements, it made me want to bake bread.
It took me years to get to know bread, to start to get a sense of the rhythm of the dance carried out between baker, yeast, flour, water, and the climate in the kitchen. You have to be flexible to bake yeast bread, to work with its needs on any given day. That rather sounds like parenting too, I suppose. Anyhow, I hadn’t really baked bread since our baby was born. It was definitely not the priority. But, suddenly I missed the feel of the sticky dough and powdery flour under my fingertips. And it seemed to me that the warm, yeasty smell of bread baking would be a rather nice sensory memory for a little boy to have from his childhood.
So, I put the baby in a little rocking seat, and I baked. First a couple loaves of levain, our “house” bread, for sandwiches and toast. Then it was time for something with some embellishments. One of my favorite breakfasts while I lived in Boston was a raisin pecan roll from Flour Bakery topped with gjetost. The memory of those breakfasts sprang into my mind. That’s what I wanted! That’s what I would bake! I decided to switch up the flavors just a little and made dried cherry and hazelnut loaves. This recipe makes a bread with a tight, tender crumb that’s lightly sweet from honey and absolutely bursting with fruit and nuts. It hit the spot.
Makes two 8-inch loaves
Cherry hazelnut bread
1 1/4 cups (300 grams) lukewarm water
3 3/4 cups (540 grams) all-purpose flour
12 ounces (340 grams) bread sponge (below) or recently-fed sourdough starter
1/4 cup (85 grams) honey
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 cup (100 grams) chopped, toasted hazelnuts
3/4 cup (120 grams) dried tart cherries
Medium-coarse yellow cornmeal for the baking sheet, if using
3/4 cup (180 grams) water
1 1/4 cups (175 grams) all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon active dry yeast
Photos by Emily Vikre