Christmas Bread

Happy holidays! We’re reaching the end of the year already? I’ve finished school, which hopefully means I will be living in the kitchen, learning all sorts of exciting things, and documenting them. Stay tuned for new developments with this new time on my hands. In the meantime, enjoy the first steps: my first EVER solo bread loaf! It came out pretty great! Just in time for New Years; dig out your scale and flour and try your hand at some yourself.
Randomly selected ingredients/add-ins from the local co-op:
Dried apricots, dried cranberries, golden raisins and walnuts!
This picture was an accident, but I thought it looked better than what I was going for.

Essentials: Water & yeast, flour, and Ratio by Michael Ruhlman:
how to make anything from bread to sausage to soup with a simple ratio for each,
just add nuts/pepper/cheese etc.

No dough hooks or paddles necessary! Just add the water, 
grab a wooden spoon and mix until you’ve got a dough.
Heyy check out my mom’s photography skills! Apparently you’re supposed to knead for 10 minutes; you can add your particulars halfway through this. I’m still working on the kneading thing…my
dough was kinda dense but that also may have been the pastry flour I was using…oops.

  Woot feast your eyes on the jam-packed super-bread. Only four ingredients,
apart from the fruit and nuts. If you think you’ve added too much and bits
are falling out, fret not! It will all be okay.
Voilà! Despite the different lighting, it did not take too long to make this bread,
just some waiting. All worth it! Now we have a yummy bread chock-full of
nutritious things! It still looked kinda foldy before I threw it in the oven so it was dense but
IT’S COOL, still tasted great.

This is what the dining room table looked like by Christmas morning. Turkey? Nah,
cookies. And bread. Stay tuned for cookie recipes shortly! In the meantime, enjoy the leftovers of the holidays before your resolutions kick in.

Dried Fruit and Nut Bread
Adapted from Ratio by Michael Ruhlman
20 oz bread flour
12 oz warm water
1 packet or teaspoon active yeast
2 teaspoons salt
2 cups of your choice of dried fruit and nuts
1 cup water and cast-iron skillet for steam

Put your mixing bowl on the scale, zero it out, and measure out the flour. If you have a stand mixer, you add the rest of the ingredients, zeroing as necessary. With no mixer, get a second bowl and measure out the water using the same process, and add the yeast and salt. Add this to the flour and combine with a wooden spoon.

Once you get a homogenous mixture, take out the dough and knead it on a floured surface for 10 minutes, or until the dough is smooth and elastic. Halfway through, gradually fold in your fruit and nuts. After kneading, place the dough back in the bowl, greased and/or floured, and let sit until double in size (an hourish).

Take the dough out and knead again to get rid of excess gas, or punch it down, then let it sit again for 10-15 minutes. You can then shape the dough into a boule by rolling it on the counter until it is a round ball. Place it on a ceramic surface or pan and let sit one more time for an hour. You can also refrigerate the dough at this time for up to a day, allowing it to come to room temperature for 2 hours before baking. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees, and put a cast-iron skillet on a rack to heat up for steam during baking.

Take the boule and cute an x, pound sign or any other pattern you want at the top to allow the dough to expand in the oven. Pour the cup of water into the skillet to create steam in the oven. This process helps to create a thick, crisp bread crust. Do it: it’s important and impressive! Bake the dough at 450 degrees for 10 minutes, and then at 375 degrees for another 45 minutes or so. When the bread is done, it will sound hollow when you tap the bottom. Cut and enjoy naked or with anything on top!

Shout out to my mom for helping with the lighting 😀

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