If you let me I have so much to write and so many things to show, but I will restrain myself. Just one thing to say tonight, I'll save up the excitement...
I realised on Sunday that I hadn't left the house in days. In all my sewing frenzy, the other love in my life has taken a back seat: my love of baking, of cooking. (And eating, of course!) So Monday there I was in the supermarket, trying to be inspired by food again.
I have been on a tight budget recently, Christmas and some poor planning left us a little short. So I was hesitating in the bread aisle. I am a baker's daughter, in fact there is baking so far back in my blood line that I really ought not be even looking at store bought bread. I was about to spend five dollars on a fruit loaf when I thought, "No I can bake my own darn fruit loaf."
On my tightish budget I sought out some dates and dried apricots, everything else I had. Normally I go for dried figs but I really felt the date urge. Also I am about to be inundated with figs soon, so many that I will be dehydrating my own.
So back to the bread. I had tried the sour-dough starter before but like anything I have to tend (other than small children and babies) it died. I am not that good at looking after things. Other than feeding babies, like I said. Granted this week in my sewing frenzy I have on several occasions forgotten to do that.
So I had this bread recipe I had made up a while back. It was re-tweaked, made to fit what I had in my cupboard so as there was less expense. Out with fancy flour, nothing other than baker's flour in the house. No LSA (linseed, sunflower and almond) mix or anything. There is, however, some star anise which I find heavenly.
So come on everyone, bake this on one coolish Summery day. There are a few of those coming up with this big wet we are having here. Or all you Notherners in the freezing cold, many of you housebound due to snow, fire up your oven, fog up your windows and smell that aroma of fresh bread, and star anise this really is good. Then eat it warm with lashings of butter. Great for eating whilst beavering away on small projects. Rich like a brioche, made with milk and butter great for keeping you going.
Even my gluten-free-wheat-free-pain-in-the-bum husband stole the crust out of my hands tonight with the words "is that the last bit of that bread!"
star anise fruit loaf30g fresh yeast or a 7g sachet of dried yeast
1 tbsp honey
390 ml warm to almost hot milk
3 1/2 cups bakers flour
handful of pumpkin seeds
handful dates cut in half
1/2 cup dried apricots roughly chopped
40g melted butter
1 tbsp brown sugar
a good pinch of salt
3 star anise
Optional - a small handful of walnut would also go well in this recipe
- Start by give the anise a good pounding in the mortar pestle, sift to use only the powdery bits
- In a small bowl dissolve the yeast in all the milk add the honey and let it sit till all spongy on top, about 10 minutes
- In a large bowl add the flour salt, butter, dates, apricots, and ground up star anise
- Mix to form a soft dough add more flour if needed, or slightly more milk (really it's Ok)
- Knead for about 5 to 10 minutes till soft and elastic
- Cover with a tea towel away from draughts for 1 1/2 to 2 hours, or till double in size
- Punch down knead a little and shape into a loaf, bake on a tray or in a bread tin lined with butter and dusted with flour
- Bake for 30 minutes at 200C, till hollow sounding when knocked and beautifully golden
- Let it sit for 5 minutes and then turn it out, serve with butter or some nice cheese.