I finally hopped on The Great British Baking Show bandwagon. I can't stop watching it, rewatching it, and desperately scouring the web for every recipe baked off.
This search has led to a newfound interest in UK baking, which is very different from Italian/American styles. I stumbled upon Olive Magazine, a British-based, "smarter than your average food mag," food mag. I love their recipes, wit, and British language variations, so I have now incorporated Olive into my daily website perusals.
I've found some really great recipes so far, but my favorite is definitely their Rye Date Bread. You need to have a kitchen scale in order to bake this one (and all of their recipes, for that matter!) which is definitely a weird thing to get behind. It adds a couple of minutes to recipe prep, but you get a more exact measure on all of your ingredients, lending to more consistent results.
I added toasted walnuts and some spices to the bread, just to add texture and to amp up the flavor of the rye, which I love. I think toasted hazelnuts would also be fabulous with this bread, especially if you swap figs in for the dates. Dark chocolate could be a fabulous addition as well.
Date & Walnut Rye Bread
- 1 tbsp honey
- 2 tsp active yeast
- 100 grams rye flour
- 300 grams strong bread flour, like European or Irish
- 100 grams whole wheat flour
- 1 tbsp salt
- About 1 cup chopped dates
- About 1 cup toasted and chopped walnuts
- 1/2 tsp whatever spices (optional)
Whisk 350 mL of very warm water with the honey, and add the yeast. Let it rest for about 10 minutes or so, just until the top is foamy.
Meanwhile, combine the flours and salt in a large bowl. Once the yeast mixture is foamy, add it to the flour and knead until it comes together – it will be sticky!! Dump it onto a floured surface (I used more bread flour) and knead it until a very smooth dough forms, about 10 minutes. Wash the original bowl, lightly drizzle in some olive oil, and add the dough, turning to coat. Cover with cling wrap and let rise in a warming drawer or in the warmest spot of your kitchen for an hour.
While the dough is rising, toast walnuts either on the stove in a pan or in the oven. Chop them up! Also chop up some dried dates. Combine them and toss with half a teaspoon each of cinnamon and cardamom, or any other spices, or none at all! After the hour has passed, dump the dough out and add the walnuts and dates, kneading until just combined. Divide the dough in two loaves, slash the tops, and let rise again for another hour on a parchment-lined baking sheet.
When half an hour passes, preheat your oven to 425º F. Put a cake pan in the very bottom of the oven and let come to temperature with the oven. When the full hour for the dough has passed, pop the whole tray on the middle rack of your oven, and throw a handful of ice cubes into the cake pan, shutting the oven very quickly. The steam will create a beautiful crust on your bread. Bake for 30 minutes, or until a thermometer reads at least 190º F, up to 210º F. Cover with tinfoil if they're browning a bit too quickly!
Let the bread cool completely before cutting into it.
I'd be interested to bake this in one big loaf, maybe in a preheated Dutch oven. I feel like this is the type of bread to do that in. I know what my baking plans are this Easter weekend.
My name is Alexandra Jade, but you can call me Alex, or Trin. I am a Food Studies major at New York University, and a freelance photographer, journalist, and social media pro on the side. I run the instagram account @twobrunchgirls.