whole wheat molasses yogurt bread with fig and walnuts

whole wheat molasses yogurt bread with fig and walnuts | A Brown Table

It starts with a swirl. Dark brown circular lines that slowly give way to bright golden yellow rings of pure sweetness. A part of me was tempted to blend it in a little more while the other part of my mind knew this would only be a fleeting moment. It eventually would morph into a deep toffee like color as the molasses mixes into the white yogurt. Molasses are delicious and if you ever get a chance to watch them being made, they can even become fascinating. Mix this sweetened yogurt with figs, walnuts and some flour, you'll end up with a loaf of bread that's full of rich flavor and color. This is one delicious soda bread recipe that Marian Bull shared in Food52’s latest cookbook on Baking!

And if you feel like experimenting a little, fold in some freshly cracked black pepper and the figs and walnuts will take on a whole new level of flavor.

Today, I'm giving away a copy of this book and believe me when I say, you will LOVE this book for the easy instructions and fool-proof tips and of course, unique recipes that will pique your interest. From a spice cake made with tomato soup to brown butter cupcake brownies, you get my drift.

The contest is open to readers who are legal residents of the U.S. and Canada only. To enter to win, all you need to do is leave a comment below to tell me what is the one thing you’ve always wanted to bake but haven’t yet tried to. The contest will start on Tuesday, September 22st 2015 at 9am EST and end on Tuesday, September 29th, 2015 at 9am. The winner will be announced after the 29th and will be notified by email. Good luck! 

whole wheat molasses yogurt bread with fig and walnuts | A Brown Table
whole wheat molasses yogurt bread with fig and walnuts | A Brown Table
whole wheat molasses yogurt bread with fig and walnuts | A Brown Table
whole wheat molasses yogurt bread with fig and walnuts | A Brown Table
whole wheat molasses yogurt bread with fig and walnuts | A Brown Table

Here are some kitchen tips that you might find useful when preparing this bread,

  • The dough is pretty heavy and dense. So don’t be nervous, the baking soda will help it rise and get airy once it bakes in the oven. 
  • You can spice this bread up a little bit just as I did with the black pepper. However, I don’t recommend overdoing it and making it too complex as you more intense spices can mask the flavor of the main ingredients used to make this bread.
  • Stick with whole fat dairy as recommended by Food52 or the bread might end up too dry. 
  • This bread is not very sweet, in fact I love it for this very reason. The molasses give a very gentle hint of sweetness but an intense golden brown color. Most of the sweetness you will taste is from the figs baked into the bread. 
  • I ate this bread with salted butter. You can melt some brie over a slice or lather it with some fig butter or jam. You get the point, here. There are several different ways you can enjoy a slice!
whole wheat molasses yogurt bread with fig and walnuts | A Brown Table

whole wheat molasses yogurt bread with fig and walnuts (from Food52: Baking cookbook)

yields: 1 loaf

ingredients

2 1/2 cups (300gm) whole wheat pastry flour or

1 1/2 cups (210gm) white whole wheat flour + 3/4 cup (100g) rye flour

1/2 cup (80g) medium or coarse-grind cornmeal

1/4 teaspoon black pepper powder, freshly ground (optional)

1 teaspoon kosher sea salt

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 2/3 cups (395mL) whole milk yogurt or

1 1/2 cups (355mL) whole milk plus 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar or white vinegar

1/2 cup (120mL) dark molasses

1 cup (100gm) toasted walnuts, chopped

3/4 cup (105gm) dried figs, chopped

1 teaspoon unsalted butter

1. Place a wire rack at midlevel in the oven and preheat the oven to 325F. If using milk rather than yogurt, mix it with vinegar.

2. In a large bowl, stir together the flour cornmeal, salt and baking soda. 

3. Separately, whisk together the yogurt and molasses. Add to the flour mixture in two or three additions, stirring in round, sweeping motions and making sure to incorporate the flour at the bottom of the bowl; mix until just a few small pockets of flour remain. The dough will be quite thick. Now fold in the walnuts and figs. 

4. Melt the butter in a standard loaf pan or a 7 inch cast-iron skillet and put it into the oven until the butter melts. Tilt and swirl the pan to coat it evenly. Gently transfer the batter to the buttered pan without mixing it any further. The dough will be sticky and heavy.

5. Place the pan in the preheated oven and bake for 50 minutes to 1 hour. The bread will be golden brown in color when done and is ready when a skewer inserted into the center comes out clean and the the top should be slightly firm but soft to touch.

6. Remove the pan from the oven and allow the bread to cool in the pan for 15 minutes. Then remove the loaf and transfer to a wire rack to cool completely before slicing. Wrap leftovers tightly in foil and eat within 3 to 4 days. 

green pea socca/farinata with lemon thyme and lunu miris sambol

green pea socca/farinata with lemon thyme and lunu miris sambol | A Brown Table

I hope those of you that celebrated the 4th, had a great holiday weekend! We took a little road trip but more of that later this week. Today, I'm talking about one of my favorite breads, socca and it's getting a huge makeover in color and flavor. Socca or farinata is one of the tastiest unleavened breads you can make at home! And more importantly, it's also simple to prepare. Typically, you'd make this with chickpea flour but I've made this version using green pea flour from Bob's Red Mill. The flour is a light shade of green but as soon as you add water to it, it turns into a bright green colored batter.

A couple of weeks ago, I asked M to pick up some harissa at our local Indian market which carries a lot of Middle Eastern and African ingredients too. He came back with a bottle of what looked like harissa but the label said otherwise. It was called "Lunu Miris". He said the store owner suggested trying this out instead. At first, I was hesitant and tempted to return it, then I said to myself, why not give this a shot and see what it's all about. It turns out lunu miris is a Sri Lankan sambol paste that's hot and spicy made from red onions, chilies and maldive fish. It's usually served as a condiment with meals and reminded me of Indian pickles. A little bit goes a very long way with this delicious concoction.

Except for the technique, this is a very atypical type of socca. For one, as I said earlier, this version is made with green pea flour and I've seasoned this to make it a little spicy but I also sprinkled some asiago and lemon thyme on top because I like a little cheese for contrast against all those flavors. This socca is tasty and really doesn't need to be eaten with anything else, just eat it hot, straight out of the oven!  

green pea socca/farinata with lemon thyme and lunu miris sambol | A Brown Table
green pea socca/farinata with lemon thyme and lunu miris sambol | A Brown Table
green pea socca/farinata with lemon thyme and lunu miris sambol | A Brown Table
green pea socca/farinata with lemon thyme and lunu miris sambol | A Brown Table

Here are some of my kitchen tips that you might find useful, when preparing this socca: 

  • For a crispy and flavorful socca, refrigerate the batter for 48hours. It seems long but the crust is absolutely perfect and worth the time and patience. Like I said before, I tested 4 time intervals when preparing this socca: 5minutes, 1 hour, overnight, and 48hours. By far overnight and 48 hours are my favorites. 
  • If you can't find lunu miris online or at an international/Indian/Sri Lankan grocery store, then use harissa in the same amount. Of course you a little more or a little less to adjust the level of heat based on your tastebuds. They both are made from different spices so the final flavor of the socca will be different.
  • I like my socca/farinata to be crispy, if you like it less crispy bake it for a shorter 
  • This is a gluten-free recipe. You can make it vegan by removing the asiago cheese and lunu miris (use harissa instead).

Here are some other bread recipes that you might like: 

green pea socca/farinata with lemon thyme and lunu miris sambol | A Brown Table

green pea socca/farinata with lemon thyme and lunu miris

yields: 4 servings

ingredients

1 cup green pea flour

1 teaspoon kosher sea salt

1/2 teaspoon chili powder

1/2 teaspoon black pepper, freshly ground

6 tablespoons olive oil + a little extra to brush

1 cup water, at room temperature

1/2 cup shallots, thinly sliced into rings

1 tablespoon fresh lemon thyme leaves + a little extra for garnish

1 teaspoon lunu miris or harissa

2 tablespoons asiago cheese, shredded

1. In a medium sized mixing bowl, add all the ingredients from the green pea flour to the black pepper. Dry whisk to combine. Then add 2 tablespoons olive oil and the water. Whisk to combine to form a smooth slurry. There should be no visible lumps in the batter. Taste the batter and adjust the salt if necessary. Wrap the bowl with cling film or a lid and leave in the refrigerator overnight (maximum up to 48hours). (See notes above)

2. The next day, place a wire rack on the upper-second level of the oven. Preheat to 450F.

3. Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a 12 inch cast iron pan or oven-safe skillet on medium-high heat. When the oil just starts to smoke, add the shallots and sauté until they brown. This will take around 4 to 5 minutes. Remove from heat.

4. Fold the harissa, the lemon thyme leaves, and the browned shallots into the refrigerated pea flour batter using a silicone spatula. Coat the same cast-iron skillet with the remaining two tablespoons of olive oil. Pour the batter on the pan and place it in the preheated oven for 12 to 15 minutes or until the edges turn golden brown and the bread begins to release from the sides of the pan. 

5. At this point, carefully  remove the pan from the oven and brush the surface very lightly with extra olive oil. Sprinkle the asiago cheese over the surface of the socca.  Return the pan to the oven and broil for 2 to 3 minutes or until the cheese is starts to melt and just golden brown on the edges. 

6. Remove the pan from the oven and using a silicone spatula remove the socca by sliding the spatula underneath the sides of the bread. Score and cut the socca into wedges (any size you desire) or strips. Garnish with a little extra lemon thyme if desired and serve warm.

Disclaimer: This post is sponsored by Bob's Red Mill. For more delicious recipes and a coupon for $1.00 off any product, please visit Bob's Red Mill.

polenta and rice doughnuts

rice and polenta doughnuts | A Brown Table

To be honest, I don't eat doughnuts that often. It's rare that I make them at home but when I do it has to be a beignet. If I lived in NOLA, I'd probably try to eat a beignet every day, it would be a goal to achieve, one I'd happily strive for. When I think about it, the concept behind a beignet is so simple yet delightful, a yeasted dough, deep fried to crispiness and then sprinkled with confectioner's sugar. If you've been to Morning Call or Cafe du Monde in NOLA and eaten their beignets, you are also familiar with the hazard, powdered sugar poses. Don't wear black clothes and you might not only end up with sugar on your clothes but also in your nostrils which will make you sneeze. But at the point, it won't matter.

It's National Doughnut Day today. Now normally, I'm terrible at remembering such things (except for Pancake Tuesday because that is mentally ingrained by my mother in my head) but thankfully, Melissa decided to organize a little doughnut special. I decided to go with something closer to a beignet but with different textures, flours and flavors. 

A few months ago I had the pleasure of meeting Alice Medrich and she is one intelligent yet humble person. But she is also an amazing teacher and the class that I attended was full of information and tips on how to work with whole-grain flours beyond wheat. Her latest work, Flavor Flours is simply an amazing book to learn from. I took some inspiration from her recipe for beignets to create these rice flour and polenta doughnuts. Because the texture is a cross between beignets and doughnuts, I felt doughnuts would be a more appropriate way to describe them. There's a hint of nutmeg in these guys and I find that confectioner's sugar and/or honey are the best way to enjoy them. Of course, a little tea or coffee or even hot chocolate on the side would be a good way to wash them down.

rice and polenta doughnuts | A Brown Table
DSC_3716 - Version 2 2.jpg
rice and polenta doughnuts | A Brown Table
rice and polenta doughnuts | A Brown Table
rice and polenta doughnuts | A Brown Table
rice and polenta doughnuts | A Brown Table

Here are some of my kitchen tips that you might find useful when preparing these doughnuts,

  • Use regular rice flour but not sticky sweet rice flour when you make these doughnuts.
  • The texture of the doughnut after frying, should resemble a crispy thin coat that encloses light ball of polenta. 
  • Nutmeg is a great spice here but green cardamom is also perfect in this recipe. 
  • Honey or confectioner's sugar work well with these doughnuts. Just make sure the doughnuts are warm when you eat them.
  • These doughnuts are best eaten when made fresh and are hot to eat. 
rice and polenta doughnuts | A Brown Table

polenta and rice doughnuts 

yields: approximately forty 1 inch doughnuts 

ingredients 

100mL water (110F)

2 tablespoons sugar

1 tablespoon instant dried yeast

1 1/2 cups water

1/2 cup (3 1/8 ounces/ 87gm) polenta 

1 tablespoon unsalted butter

3/4 cup (4 1/4 ounces / 117gm) rice flour 

1 large egg at room temperature 

1/2 teaspoon fine grain sea salt

1/4 teaspoon nutmeg powder, fresh

30mL water, at room temperature

enough vegetable oil for frying (use a neutral oil with a high smoking point)

confectioner's sugar for dusting (or honey)

1. Place the water in a small bowl or jar, stir in the sugar and sprinkle the yeast over the water. Allow to sit aside for 10 minutes until it gets foamy. (If it doesn't foam after the 5 minutes, repeat this step with fresh ingredients).

2. In the meantime prepare the polenta. Bring the 1 1/2 cups of water to a rolling boil in a small saucepan on high heat. Quickly whisk in the polenta by pouring it in a thin and steady stream. Add the butter and continue to whisk for about 4 to 5 minutes until almost all the liquid has evaporated and the polenta is soft but not mushy. Remove from stove and cover the saucepan with a lid. Leave to cool for about 5 to 7 minutes before using.

3. In a large mixing bowl, add the rice flour and make a well in the center. Add the polenta, egg, salt, and nutmeg along with the yeast from step1. Using a large wooden spoon, stir the ingredients with the water to form a thick dough. The dough will resemble a soft and sticky mixture. Allow the dough to rest for 5 minutes before cooking.

4. In the meantime, heat the oil in medium-sized wok or saucepan with a deep bottom on medium-high heat. When the oil is hot (at about 350F) start to prepare the doughnuts for frying. Using a small ice cream scoop (or two tablespoons), scoop out a single ball of dough and drop it into the hot oil, allow the ball to rise and cook for about 3 to 4 minutes until the doughnut is evenly golden brown. Place the doughnut on a sheet lined with absorbent paper towels to drain the excess oil. The outside portion of the doughnut should be crispy yet the inside soft. Immediately dust the hot doughnut with confectioner's sugar or drizzle with honey before serving. Prepare the rest of the doughnuts using the same method. 

Recipes you might be interested in  

Note: The pretty red Balti was a gift from Le Creuset. 

sweet potato pie babka

Sweet Potato Pie Babka | A Brown Table

It's no secret that I LOVE sweet potatoes (I even affectionally refer to Snoopy as one)! Every year at this time, I look forward to sweet potato pie. I eat one before the week of Thanksgiving, one during the week of and another one after. This is my holiday ritual which should have begun last week but we hit a snag when I went to the bakery at our local grocery store to look for one. (Now, I would have made myself one but it was midweek and I was too tired from work to whip one up). So there I was at the store hunting among a thousand pumpkin and pecan pies for the glorious sight of one that would have the words "sweet potato pie" inscribed. Nothing, seriously nothing except for one miserable and overly sugary, frozen pie! I got the pie and picked up several pounds of sweet potatoes so this wouldn't happen again. I made a pie and then some babka!

Sweet Potato Pie Babka | A Brown TableSweet Potato Pie Babka | A Brown TableSweet Potato Pie Babka | A Brown TableSweet Potato Pie Babka | A Brown Table

There was a lot of inspiration for this babka. It started with Michelle's gorgeous salted chocolate and pumpkin babka that in turn was inspired by Yottam Ottolenghi's Jerusalem. My version is adapted from the basic recipe in The Cook's Illustrated Baking Book which I modified. This is another great book to learn to bake from, there's science and technique which make it one of my favorites.

Sweet Potato Pie Babka | A Brown TableSweet Potato Pie Babka | A Brown TableSweet Potato Pie Babka | A Brown Table

If you're looking for a fun holiday breakfast treat or for that matter an anytime breakfast bread, this babka does it! Not only does it encase swirls of sweet potato and nutmeg but it also has sweet potato infused into the dough which gives it a lovely bright yellow color. Plus, now I can eat sweet potato pie for breakfast and dessert, so it's a win all the way. 

Sweet Potato Pie Babka | A Brown TableSweet Potato Pie Babka | A Brown Table

Here are some of my kitchen tips that you might find useful when preparing this babka;

  • I make my own sweet potato purée by oven roasting about 1 lb of sweet potatoes (with the skin) at 350F on a baking sheet for about 35-40 minutes until it is completely tender in the center and a knife can pass through easily. I then let them cool completely, this will allow the skin to shrink and it will peel off easily. I think chop the pulp and blend it using an immersion blender or food processor until silky smooth. 
  • When using an immersion blender or weighing ingredients, I love to use those plastic containers that you get with takeout meals. Save them the next time, it's a great way to reuse.
  • Use fresh nutmeg, it makes a huge difference. Add a little more if you like more flavor.
  • Instead of adding all the flour at once, I found that adding a little bit towards the short kneading stage helps to bring the dough together and gets rid of the stickiness.
  • You can use any dry mix of spices that you like to flavor your sweet potato pie with. I like to add ginger or 5-spice mix.
  • With regards to the folding and getting those layers in the babka. Roll the dough out as thin as possible. I used the method used to make Krantz by cutting through the cylinder of dough and then braiding, it like Michelle suggested. 
  • Egg white and almond flour help to bind and stick the sweet potato filling to the dough. And I didn't get any almond taste that took away from the sweet potato pie filling. 
Sweet Potato Pie Babka | A Brown TableSweet Potato Pie Babka | A Brown Table
Sweet Potato Pie Babka | A Brown Table

sweet potato pie babka

yields: enough for two 9X5 inch loafs

ingredients 

2 cups sweet potato purée (see tips above on how to prepare)

1 large egg yolk + 2 large eggs, at room temperature

1/2 cup (3 1/2 ounces) brown sugar + 1/4 (1 3/4 ounces) cup brown sugar + 2 tablespoons brown sugar

1 teaspoon madagascar bourbon vanilla extract

1/2 cup almond flour

1/2 teaspoon kosher sea salt

1/2 teaspoon nutmeg, freshly grated

3 1/2 cups (15 1/2 ounces) all-purpose flour + a little extra for dusting

1/2 cup whole milk, warmed to 110 degrees

1 stick (4 ounces) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature and cubed 

1 1/2 teaspoons instant yeast

a little neutral vegetable oil (an oil spray will work well here)

1 tablespoon water

1. Take one cup of the sweet potato purée in a medium bowl. Add the white of one egg, 1/2 cup brown sugar, 1/2 teaspoon vanilla, almond flour and salt. Blend all the ingredients together using an immersion blender (alternatively, transfer all of this into a blender and purée until silky smooth). Keep refrigerated until ready to use. 

2. In a separate mixing bowl, whisk 2 egg yolks, the remaining 1 cup of sweet potato purée, 1/2 teaspoon vanilla, and milk, until completely combined. Keep aside.

3. Add 3 cups of the flour, 1/4 cup brown sugar, salt, and yeast to the bowl of stand mixer. Dry whisk until mixed. Attach the dough blade to the mix and set the mixer to low speed. Pour the milk-sweet potato liquid into the dry ingredients and mix for about 3-4 minutes until almost combined. Stop and add the cubed butter, a little bit at a time until completely incorporated. The dough will start to come off from the sides and will be sticky. Transfer the dough onto a clean lightly dusted surface. 

4. Using the remaining 1/2 cup of flour bring the dough together to form one large ball. Place the dough in a large clean bowl that is lightly greased with a little neutral tasting vegetable oil. Brush the dough with a little oil. Cover the bowl loosely with a cling film and allow to rise and double in volume for 1 hour in pre-warmed oven (preheat the oven to 200F for 5 minutes, then switch it off). After 1 hour remove the bowl from the oven and allow to rise at room temperature for another hour. 

3. Transfer the dough back onto a clean surface. Divide the dough in half and work with one half at a timeShape one half of the dough into a rectangle with your hands and then using very little extra flour roll it out into a thin rectangle that is approximately 14 X 20 inches in area.  

4. Take 1/2 of the sweet potato filling and reserve the second half for the second loaf. Spread 3/4 of this filling prepared in step 1 in a smooth layer with a spatula. Sprinkle half of the nutmeg over the sweet potato layer. Then starting from the shorter side of the rectangle, roll the dough into a cylinder. Pinch to seal the ends and shape the cylinder with your hands. Spread the remaining amount of filling over the top surface of the cylinder. Then fold it over in half and seal the ends again by pinching the seams. With a sharp serrated knife cut through the length of the cylinder and divide in half. Then braid the two strips of dough with each other to form a double figure 8 shape. Place it in a well greased loaf 9X5 loaf tin. Wrap the tin loosely with cling film and allow it to rise in a pre-warmed oven for 2 hours or until doubled in size. Repeat steps 3 and 4 with the second half of the dough to prepare the second loaf. 

3. Prepare the egg wash by lightly whisking the whole egg with the water.  Brush the surface of each loaf with the egg wash and then sprinkle 2 tablespoons of the brown sugar over each loaf. 

4. Bake each loaf in the center of an oven preheated to 350F for about 45 minutes or until the surface is golden brown (the sugar will caramelize and give a lovely crust) and the internal temperature reaches 190F. Remove from oven and allow the loaves to cool in the pan placed on a wire rack completely before serving. 

whole wheat masala bread

Whole Wheat Masala Bread | A Brown Table

If there is one food that I could probably find hard to live without, it would have to be bread. The scent of freshly baked bread from the oven is intoxicating but there is also something equally exciting about preparing bread from scratch at home. When I first started to cook, I found bread making a challenge, I'd end up with "loaves" that would have made better door stoppers or paper weights. After a few tries, I was almost ready to give up until I came across a few cookbooks that were solely devoted to baking bread and I decided to give another shot, perhaps I still had hope. 

Among the bread cookbooks that I treasure the most, one of my personal favorites, is "The New Artisan Bread in Five Minutes" by Jeff Hertzberg and Zoë François. They've made things simple and easy, which for me is a win-win all the way! I've made several of their breads at home and they never fail. It's one of the bread cookbooks that showed me the light!

Whole Wheat Masala Bread | A Brown TableWhole Wheat Masala Bread | A Brown TableWhole Wheat Masala Bread | A Brown TableWhole Wheat Masala Bread | A Brown TableWhole Wheat Masala Bread | A Brown Table

My dad had a favorite bakery, it wasn't really close to where we lived (and we had other bakeries that were closer) but for some reason he'd insist on getting his "masala bread" from here. Masala bread was a baguette-shaped bread that was buttery and soft mixed with spices, it was tasty but I hated making the trek out to get this loaf. With all the traffic congestion in Bombay, it probably took me an hour and a half to two, to get this loaf of bread! And I complained and whined, but finally when I did sink my teeth into it, I'd remember why the long journey was worth it. 

Today, I'm sharing my version which is whole-wheat and every bit as delicious as the one from Bombay. You can also find this recipe on Steller

 

Whole Wheat Masala Bread | A Brown TableWhole Wheat Masala Bread | A Brown TableWhole Wheat Masala Bread | A Brown TableWhole Wheat Masala Bread | A Brown Table

Kitchen Tips:

  • Use cornmeal or semolina to keep things from sticking. If you don't have either of those use parchment paper. 
  • A pizza peel is helpful when it comes to moving the resting loaf, again parchment paper can be used a substitute here to moving the unbaked loaf.
  • Pizza stones are a great way to get even baking when it comes to bread. However, you can also use a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. 
  • Once you toss the water onto the metal baking sheet in the oven and shut the door, DO NOT open the door to check the bread until the end stage of baking. The steam is important to creating a good crust on the surface of the bread loaf.
Whole Wheat Masala Bread | A Brown Table

whole wheat masala bread  (adapted from "The New Artisan Bread in Five Minutes" by Jeff Hertzberg and Zoë François)

yields: one 10 inch loaf

ingredients 

1 teaspoon turmeric

1 teaspoon garam masala 

1 teaspoon dried oregano

1 teaspoon lime zest, fresh

1 1/2 cups water, heated to 100F

1 teaspoon kosher sea salt

1 teaspoon granulated yeast

1 teaspoon sugar

1 lb whole wheat flour + extra flour for dusting

cornmeal or parchment paper for baking 

1. Mix the turmeric, garam masala, oregano and lime zest in a small bowl and keep aside until ready to use. 

2. Add the salt, yeast and sugar to the water and stir.

3. Place the flour in a large mixing bowl. Make a well in the center and pour the liquid mixture into the center. Stir with a wooden spoon or with your hands until almost combined. Toss in the spice mixture from earlier and combine until it forms one large sticky ball of dough. 

4. Cover the dough (not airtight), allow the dough to rest at room temperature for about 2 hours. The dough will rise and collapse. (you can keep the dough in a well oiled bowl to rise).

5. On a clean surface, using wet hands quickly shape the dough into a ball by stretching the surface of the dough around to the bottom on all four sides rotating the ball, a quarter turn, as your proceed. Shape into one 10 inch-oval loaf. 

6. Lightly dust the loaf with a little flour. Using a sharp serrated bread knife, make 5-6, half-inch cuts along the length of the loaf. Allow to rise for one hour, uncovered on a pizza peel covered with a little cornmeal or on a sheet of parchment paper. 

7. Place a place a wire rack in the middle of the oven. Then place a pizza stone on the rack. Place a second wire rack with a metal baking sheet (don't use glass) on the bottom shelf of the oven. Preheat the oven to 400F. 

8. After the bread has risen for 1 hour, generously sprinkle cornmeal on the surface of the heated pizza stone. 

9. Carefully transfer the loaf using the pizza peel or parchment paper onto the hot stone. Pour a cup of tap water (at room temperature), onto the lower baking sheet, immediately shut the oven door. Bake for about 20-25 minutes until the surface of the loaf is firm to touch and deeply browned on the surface.

10. Once the bread is baked, remove from oven and allow to cool on a wire rack. Slice the bread with a sharp serrated knife and enjoy! 

fig and zucchini bread

fig and zucchini bread #dessert #wheat #foodphotography #foodstyling #zucchinibread #baking

Where do I begin! The first time I baked this bread, the dog stole it and ate the entire thing! I left the freshly baked bread out to cool on the kitchen counter and stepped out to take care of a few errands, boy was I in for a shock! By the time I came back, it was gone and there were no traces of any crumbs! I thought perhaps, I was being absent minded as usual and had stored the cake in the refrigerator or kept it some odd place. In the 4 years since I've had Snoopy he has never eaten anything off the table and we never feed him table scraps. My suspicions were confirmed later that day, as he voluntarily skipped his usual dinner begging routine. As you can probably imagine, Snoopy never skips a meal, he starts begging an hour before and when I do feed him, he munches his food down in a few seconds. I was worried he would throw up or fall sick and that is no fun. Thankfully, the bread was still in its testing phase and I knew that none of the ingredients in the first version would be deadly to him. Snoopy was just overstuffed and I knew that I would need to be more vigilant and careful when it come to him and our food. Lesson learned!

fig and zucchini bread #dessert #wheat #foodphotography #foodstyling #zucchinibread #baking
fig and zucchini bread #dessert #wheat #foodphotography #foodstyling #zucchinibread #baking

After Snoopy stole the first version of the bread, I knew a repeat was going to happen soon, there were several things I needed to fix to make this a good bread, I wanted it to be the best zucchini bread I have ever made in my kitchen to date. I wanted the bread to have some amount of whole wheat in it and I didn't want the bread to a soupy overly wet mass and it needed a little spark of flavor. I also wanted the bread to be simple, zucchini bread is comfort food and comfort should not be tedious to prepare, it should be easy, comfortable to make and comfortable to eat.  

fig and zucchini bread #dessert #wheat #foodphotography #foodstyling #zucchinibread #baking

I tried a trick I learned from watching America's test kitchen (this is what they do with bananas for banana bread), I microwaved the zucchini to force out the excess liquid. I got a little over a cupful of liquid from the shredded zucchini which made a huge difference. The rest of the recipe, is all about stirring the ingredients together, the hardest part is probably grating the zucchini! 

fig and zucchini bread #dessert #wheat #foodphotography #foodstyling #zucchinibread #baking

 

fig and zucchini bread

yields: 1 loaf (8 1/2 " X 4 1/2") 

ingredients 

1 tablespoon walnut/olive oil + a little all purpose flour for coating the loaf pan.

1 lb zucchini

1 cup dried figs, chopped 

2 large eggs

1/4 cup minus 1 tablespoon walnut oil/olive oil (I tried both separately)

1 teaspoon madagascar bourbon vanilla extract

3/4 cup ( 5 7/25 ounces)  raw brown sugar

1/4 cup plain low-fat greek yogurt

4 1/4 ounces all purpose flour

4 1/4 ounces whole wheat flour

1/2 teaspoon dried ginger powder

1/4 teaspoon kosher sea salt

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 cup (2 3/5 ounces) chopped walnuts

6 whole figs dried, thinly sliced across their length

1. Place a wire rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 350F. Coat a 8 1/2" X 4 1/2" loaf pan with a little oil and dust with a little flour.

2. Trim the ends off the zucchini and grate them into fine shreds. Place the shredded zucchini into a microwave-safe bowl and microwave for 2 minutes. Transfer the zucchini into a larger strainer lined with two layers of cheesecloth/muslin. Allow the zucchini to drain for about 30 minutes or until you have about 1 cup of liquid. Bring the ends of the cheesecloth together and squeeze the zucchini to release as much as liquid as possible. Discard the liquid (you can use this liquid to prepare smoothies/juices or stocks) and place the shredded zucchini in a large mixing bowl.

3. Add the 1 cup of chopped dried figs to the zucchini along with the 2 large eggs, oil, vanilla, sugar and yogurt. Stir the contents together with a wooden spoon until combined. 

4. In a separate bowl, quickly whisk the flours, ginger powder, salt, baking soda, and baking powder. Quickly stir the flour mixture into the wet ingredients in the large mixing bowl until combined. Fold the walnuts into the batter and then transfer the batter into the prepared loaf pan. Tap gently to release any trapped air bubbles. Place the thinly sliced whole figs in a single center row on top of the batter in the pan.

5. Bake for about 45-50 minutes, rotating the cake 180 degrees once during the baking process. The bread is done when the center is firm to touch or a knife should come out clean from the center of the bread. Allow the bread to cool for 10 minutes in the pan and the run the edges of a knife around the cake. Remove and allow the bread to cool on a wire rack. Slice and serve as needed. 

Note: This is a quick bread recipe. I recommend proceeding as quickly as possible to the baking stage as soon as you prepare the wet and dry ingredients. This will prevent excess liquid being released from the zucchini.