Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Nantucket Crown

This bread doesn't have much in common with the quaint island that lies off the coast of Cape Cod. Rather it takes its name from the blend of dried fruit and nuts I used, which is sold at Costco under the name "Nantucket Blend". You will notice that, being calorie-conscious, I used very little of this blend, just enough to give the bread its fruity and nutty flavor. Since this loaf contains 70% whole-grain flours, I added a bit of yeast to the starter. I could probably have done without but then I would have had to make the fermentation a while longer.

Ingredients:

  • 250 g white whole wheat flour
  • 150 g all-purpose unbleached flour (I use Whole Foods 365 Organic)
  • 50 g sorghum flour (spelt or kamut flour can be substituted) 
  • 50 g dark rye flour
  • 50 g coarse yellow cornmeal 
  • 300 g water 
  • 170 g liquid starter 100% hydration
  • 55 g Nantucket blend (or other)
  • 26 g raw wheat germ
  • 11 g salt
  • 12 g almond oil (canola or sunflower oil can be substituted)
  • 4 g instant yeast (I use SAF)


Method:
  1. Put all the ingredients (except the fruit & nut) in the bread machine in the order specified by the manufacturer (in mine, liquid ingredients must go first)
  2. Select and start the dough program
  3. Check the consistency of the dough as it is being kneaded (for best results, reserve a tenth of the water at the beginning and add it or not according to the needs of the dough)
  4. When the machine beeps, add the fruit and nut mixture
  5. Let the dough program run its course till the end of the rising period
  6. Take the dough out of the machine and divide it into 8 equal pieces
  7. Pre-shape each of these pieces into a rough boule (ball) and let rest 20 minutes under a damp towell
  8. Shape each piece into a boule and put the 8 boules in a circle on a baking sheet covered with semolina-sprinkled parchment paper
  9. Put the baking sheet in a big clear plastic bag, blow into the bag once and close it tightly
  10. Let rise at room temperature for about an hour and a half
  11. Twenty minutes before baking time, turn on the oven (450 F/246 C)
  12. Put in a baking stone with an empty metal pan on the rack below it
  13. Before baking, score or stencil the loaves (or do both as on the photo) and pour a cup of cold water in the hot metal dish (taking care to avoid getting the steam in your face or on your hands)
  14. Open the oven again and slide the crown (still on the parchment paper) directly onto the baking stone
  15. Spray the oven heavily with water (taking care not to aim at the lamp to avoid cracking) and close the oven
  16. Spray again two minutes later, then lower the oven temperature to 450 F/232 C and do not open the oven for the next 30 to 35 minutes
  17. Take the loaf out of the oven and let it cool completely on a wire rack before slicing.

This loaf would look good with a buffet-style dinner, or even at Easter on the brunch table. Each of the "little" boules is big enough to be thinly sliced and served with a runny goat cheese or with a Brie or camembert. It is also very good at breakfast with butter and honey or jam.

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