Make Ahead

Fig and Walnut Wholewheat Bread

May  1, 2014
0 Ratings
  • Makes about 1.5 kilo loaf
Author Notes

I developed this recipe in my Italian kitchen because I have so many vegetarian friends who need something with a bit more nutritional oomph than the common Italian bakery bread. It's easy, delicious and keeps very well. You can also make it ahead and freeze it, wrapped tightly in foil and then in plastic, but it's important to thaw it and then briefly crisp the crust before you want to serve it.
For best results, start this dough the day before you want to bake the bread. —Judith Greenwood

What You'll Need
  • 250 grams wholewheat flour (9 ounces)
  • 250 grams plain flour (9 ounces) plus more for shaping
  • 1 packet dry yeast
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1.5 cups warm water (it can sometimes require more water to make a loose dough. It depends on both the flour you have and the weather.
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 100 grams dried figs (4 ounces) vut into quarters
  • .5 cups roughly chopped walnuts
  • .25 cups sesame seeds
  1. Mix all the dry ingredients and stir. Add the warm water and use a dough hook or your hands to partially blend, then add the olive oil and continue to mix until completely homogeneous. It should be quite wet, so you might need a bit more water due to weather or the age of your flour.
  2. You can either scrape it into a sealable plastic bag, seal it and refrigerate for at least 12 hours, or you can press abundant plastic film directly on the surface of the dough, making sure there's enough to cover it as it rises. A full day in the fridge is not too long.
  3. When the rising time is past, bring the dough to room temperature, then scrape it out onto a floured surface and knead just enough to be sure there are no grainy bits or lumps. Using floury hands or a rolling pin, extend the dough into a rectangle. Arrange the fig pieces and walnuts over the surface, then roll it up tightly, then tuck the ends under to close it.
  4. Thoroughly flour a clean dishcloth and place the loaf in it, seam side up, using the towel as a hammock for moving the loaf. Leave it to rise at least one hour, until doubled.
  5. 30 minutes before you expect to bake the bread, preheat the oven and a heavy pot with a lid to 200 C/400 F. Don't skimp on this preheating time.
  6. At baking time, open the pot (sliding the oven rack out is safest) and toss in the sesame seeds. Gently turn the bread into the pot on top of the sesame, seam side down. Use a very sharp knife to slash it a few times, quite deeply.
  7. Replace the lid and close the oven, then lower the heat to 180 C/375 F. Cook for 30 minutes, then remove the lid from the pot and cook uncovered for another 15 minutes. If you tap the bottom of the loaf it should sound hollow. If it sounds solid, bake a few minutes longer.
  8. Cool completely on a wire rack before cutting (yeah, I don't either) or wrapping and freezing. The loaf will keep best if you cover any cut ends with foil, then wrap in a clean towel before sliding it into a plastic sack. That helps the crust from going soft.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • drbabs
  • Judith Greenwood
    Judith Greenwood

8 Reviews

drbabs May 2, 2014
I'm working on bread baking, and I love figs and walnuts so I'd like to try this recipe. It seems like you have skipped a few steps. You start with taking the dough out of the refrigerator, but you do to tell us how to make the dough. Can you outline those steps also for those of us who are inexperienced bread bakers? Thanks.
drbabs May 2, 2014
I meant you do not tell us how to make the dough. Sorry.
Judith G. May 2, 2014
I certainly did type that in, but you are right, it disappeared. I have re-entered those steps now. Feel free to ask anything you may still question.
Judith G. May 2, 2014
Every time I repaired the recipe, it subtracted all but two steps! So I made step one super long.
drbabs May 2, 2014
Thanks, that's really strange. You should let the editors know. [email protected]
Judith G. May 2, 2014
I did, and thanks for the heads up. If you are new at bread baking I have one word of advice: be patient. Lots of conditions can make things not follow the exact schedule a recipe proposes, but if you are patient, you can get a fabulous result anyway. My mother could never make good bread, and it wasn't until I was grown that I realized she waited the 30 minutes and chugged on, even though she was cooking in a drafty 200 year old house in frigid Maine. The times I hurry up, I get her results. If I am patient I make great bread.
drbabs May 2, 2014
Thanks for the advice. I am a good baker, but bread is my nemesis. I'm off work next week, so this is on my project list. Thanks so much!
drbabs May 2, 2014
Also, because I can't help but fool with recipes, I'm thinking of adding anise to the bread. I had a fantastic anise-scented fig and walnut bread in Vancouver-- would love to be able to replicate that!