Being that it's National Farmer's Market Week this week, I went to the market and STOCKED UP on amazingly fresh and beautiful produce. With a mind on heirloom tomatoes and fresh lima beans (have you ever seen fresh lima beans? they're so pretty) I headed out to get cookin'.
As I was on my way home, I got a phone call that tragedy had struck a dear friend of mine and that there was nothing I could do but sit and wait, pray and think good thoughts for her. Somehow doing those things equates to baking for me.
Incredibly thankful for my VitaFresh drawers that would keep my farmer's market loot intact, I set off to try out the Proof setting on my oven instead. Salads simply weren't going to make me feel any better, but fresh baked bread and cookies might do a little to ease the hurt my heart was feeling for my friend. My problem with making homemade bread has always been not having the right kind of "warm" place for it to rise; but with a specific proofing function on my oven, I realized I had no more excuses.
I began with a bread recipe from Martha, which I totally ended up manipulating, but was completely amazed that the timing in her recipe was dead on when it came to rising times on my oven's proof setting.
1 cup pecans, toasted and coarsely chopped
1 1/3 cup warm water (about 110 degrees)
1 package active dry yeast (1/4 ounce)
2 cups bread flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
2 tablespoons salt
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon rosemary (I used dried, but fresh would be fantastic)
3/4 cup dried cranberries, chopped
1 large egg
1 tablespoon water
1-2 tablespoons coarse sea salt
Vegetable oil, for coating bowl, baking sheet and plastic wrap
Turn oven on to Proof setting. If you're oven does not have that feature, scout out another warm place for your bread to rise (about 100 degrees).
In the bowl of an electric mixer with the paddle attachment, stir yeast into warm water to dissolve. Let mixture stand for about 5 minutes until foamy. Add flours, salt, sugar and rosemary and mix until dough just comes together. Switch out the paddle attachment with the dough hook and beat on medium speed for about 4-5 minutes until dough is smooth, elastic and slightly tacky. Add in toasted pecans and cranberries and mix on low until incorporated. The dough will feel dry and stiff, and you may need to push some cranberries and pecans into the dough with your fingers. If there are cranberries loose in the bottom of the bowl and it doesn't look like they are going to go into the dough, discard them. Transfer the dough to a lightly oiled bowl and top with plastic wrap that has also been lightly coated with oil. Place dough into warm oven, or other warm place to rise for about one hour.
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and coat lightly with oil using a pastry brush and set aside. In a small bowl, whisk egg with 1 tablespoon of water to make egg wash.
Once the dough has doubled in size, remove from oven and turn out onto a lightly floured surface. Roll dough out until about 1/2" thick, which will be roughly a 12" x 12" square. Fold in 1" flaps on both sides. Starting from the top, roll the dough (tightly) toward you, gently turning in the edges as you roll. Press the seam into the dough so that it sticks. It might be necessary to brush the seam with egg wash so that it seals together nicely.
Lay the dough on the oiled cookie sheet and cover with oil brushed plastic wrap (I used the same plastic wrap from the first rise). Place dough back into oven and allow to rise once more for 45 minutes.
Remove dough from the oven and generously (but with a gentle stroke) brush with egg wash. Sprinkle with coarse salt.
Bake on Convection Bake setting at 325 degrees for 35 minutes or Bake 350 degrees if your oven does not have the convection feature--you may also need to increase your baking time by 5 minutes.
Transfer bread to a wire cooling rack and allow to cool completely before slicing. This bread is fabulous toasted with a little butter for breakfast but would also make a fantastic grilled cheese sandwich made with gruyere.