Sunday, 15 April 2012

Cherry, fennel and rye loaf

I have been looking forward to making this loaf ever since the Mellow Bakers April Challenge was posted. Fennel and cherry... now that sounds an interesting flavour combination! But it has been a challenge to find some of the ingredients and therefore I have made some compromises to the recipe that I am hoping will not be a detriment to the finished product.

I was unable to find fine rye flour locally so I used my usual Doves Farm wholegrain rye flour but used 75g rather than 100g and added extra white flour to compensate. Several other bakers had said they had found they dough had been quite heavy. I bought some dried cherries but then when I was in a middle eastern shop near where I work I bought the fennel seeds and white poppy seeds and got chatting with the man behind the counter. he has sourced tempeh and asafoetida for me in the past and he was asking what I was using these ingredients for. When I mentioned the cherries he showed my a frozen bag of sour cherries. he told me they were very popular among the Iranian community as they were a component of a dish cooked at a recent Iranian festival. they had defrosted when I got them home and tasted lovely. I chose to use them instead of the dried ones which had a sweetener in them. I dried them out in the oven the night before and used the left over juice along with white wine to soak the cooked wheat berries. Ah, yes, wheat not rye berries... tried everywhere for rye berries without success and was not going to pay postage for them through the internet. Dan Lepard uses wheat berries elsewhere in the book so I followed his advice about how to prepare them.

So this morning I brought my rye leaven together with the other ingredients into a sticky mess. I photographed the transformation from this mess into something well, a little less messy over a series of rest and folds as outlined in Dan's book... and then promptly went and deleted them by mistake. Doh.

It didn't look too promising when I first came to leave it too prove for 1 1/2 hours...

... but after 75 minutes there was a noticeable rise which augured well.

After applying poppy seeds I slashed it lengthways and placed it in the hot oven. The loaf smelled gorgeous whilst it baked with deep cherry tones filling the kitchen. I had prepared two white sourdoughs just in case this one turned out a disaster and these were rising in their cane bannetons.

After 45 minutes my loaf was out of the oven.

It felt light enough and I resisted counting how many cremated cherries there were on the outside.

I cut into it and these beautiful cherries bled out.

I really like the flavours and the crust was excellent.The first piece was devoured with melting butter.

The crumb was okay

I was not expecting that I would want to do this recipe again in the near future but having tasted it I love it. What would I do differently?  I think I would chop the cherries up which would make the dough more manageable. I might try to grind the fennel seeds a little too. The wheat grains were a success and I cooked and soaked more than I required and have added them to salads. Lovely!

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