Spelt Bread with Figs and Walnuts

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The origins of this recipe stem from a Dove’s Farm recipe which I then modified.* It makes a  delicious, firm-textured loaf that is delicious sliced, toasted and spread with butter. It is equally tasty with a sweet or savoury topping (e.g. jam and cheese both work well!). A fabulous accompaniment to baked beans. In short – it rocks!

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Ingredients

1 tsp yeast (slow acting “traditional” yeast)
45 ml (3 Tbsps) warm water
500 grams wholegrain spelt flour
1 tsp salt
1 tsp honey, sugar or agave syrp
300 ml lukewarm water
15 ml (1 Tbsp) olive oil (cold-pressed virgin preferably)
130 grams dried figs, chopped to 1/4 inch (1/2 cm) dice
80 grams walnuts broken up a bit (not too finely!)
60 ml (4 Tbsps) orange or apple juice

Method

1. Mix the yeast with 3 tablespoons of lukewarm water and leave for 15 minutes.
2. In a large bowl mix together the flour, salt, and sugar.
3. Mix together the yeast mixture, olive oil and the 300 ml of lukewarm water.
4. Knead well for about five minutes until you have a smooth and pliable dough. I use my Kitchenaid mixer for this as I am lazy and it has a bread hook.
5. Leave the dough in a bowl covered with a cloth, in a draught-free place, to double in size.
6. Meanwhile put the chopped figs, walnuts and orange or apple juice in a small bowl and leave them to soak in the orange juice.
7. When the dough has doubled in size, turn it out onto a lightly floured surface, add the soaked figs and walnuts and work them through the dough, kneading firmly for several minutes.
8. Shape the dough and put it into an oiled 1kg/2lb bread tin or place it on an oiled baking sheet. I love a round loaf so I bake it in a small round spring-form pan which I lightly oil with olive oil.
9. Cover & leave dough to rise for about 40 minutes in a warm place. On top of your water heater, above the fridge, the airing cupboard, etc., are all great locales that are usually warmer than the rest of your regular living space. At about the 30 minute mark, if the bread is rising nicely, you should turn your oven on to start pre-heating it.
10. When it has risen to a lovely size, it is time to bake – remember, once you put it in the oven the heat kills the yeast and it will not rise any further, so don’t put it in the oven until it is the size you are hoping for!
11. Bake in a pre-heated oven for 40-45 minutes.
12. Remove from oven, COOL IN PAN for 10-15 minutes, then gently turn out onto rack to finish cooling.

Store in thick ziplock plastic bag or other airtight receptacle.

Re: Oven Temperature 

Oven 425°F (220°C)
Convection (Fan) oven:  425°F (200°C or Gas 7)

I baked it at about 375°F (fan oven) as it was browning too quickly – the baking temperature is not set in stone – everyone kind of knows their own oven and its idiosyncrocies , so adjust temperature (lower) as you see fit.

* The original recipe is found here: http://www.dovesfarm.co.uk/recipes/fig-and-walnut-bread/

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