Wednesday, 27 August 2014

Showstopping nutella, fig and fennel blumenbrot

I decided not to do this week's Great British Bakeoff technical bake. It was ciabatta - which was a quite a challenge and I am sure it was delicious, but not really the sort of thing to win a stunned silence from Paul's colleagues. If I am going to bake things that I am not going to eat myself, I want plaudits, dammit. The rye roll signature bake was also uninspiring. I decided on a showstopping blue cheese, fig, fennel and hazelnut couronne centrepiece, with a little rye in the dough.

Unfortunately I got home on Saturday evening to discover that Paul had eaten nearly all of my Stilton, and my long weekend plans didn't include going to the shops. Also, Lynne from A Greedy Piglet posted this clever nutella bread, twisted into a lovely flower shape. I decided to stick with the fig, fennel and hazelnut, but to take it into an unambiguously sweet direction with nutella and some extra chopped chocolate. Because those other elements add quite a lot of bulk, I only did two layers of dough, so it doesn't look quite as layered and flowery. But it is still pretty!

Then, also unfortunately, it was pouring with rain yesterday morning, and Paul couldn't balance an umbrella and a bag of bread at the same time. So I took it to my dance class so I a) got to see it appreciated and, b) got to taste it. Even though it isn't that rich a dough, it still ends up with a buttery, eggy, briochey taste, and the nuggets of dark chocolate and faint aniseed breath of the fennel keep it from being too sweet.
Nutella, fig and fennel blumenbrot (serves 8-12)


250g strong white bread flour
Pinch salt
1tsp fennel seeds, toasted and crushed finely
7g dried yeast
1tsp soft light brown sugar
50g butter, softened
100ml milk
1 large egg, lightly beaten


100g Nutella (or generic chocolate hazelnut spread of your choice...)
120g soft dried figs, chopped into small pieces
2tsp plain flour
50g dark chocolate, chopped into small pieces
65g chopped hazelnuts

To glaze

1 egg, beaten
1tsp runny honey

Put the flour into a large mixing bowl with a pinch of salt on one side of the bowl. Heat the milk for about 15 seconds in the microwave, until just warm, and add the sugar, fennel and yeast and allow to sit for 10 minutes while the yeast activates. Add the butter, milk mixture and egg to the flour and mix. Continue to mix until all the flour is incorporated and you have a soft, shaggy dough.

Knead either with a dough hook or by hand (if by hand, dust the surface with a bit more flour), working through the messy stage until the dough starts to feel smooth and silky. Put it into a lightly oiled bowl, cover the bowl with a tea towel and leave to rise until doubled in size. If your kitchen is as cold as mine was on Monday it'll take more than an hour.

While the dough is rising, combine the figs, plain flour, chopped chocolate and hazelnuts. Stir well so everything is dusted in flour.

Line a baking tray with baking parchment or silicone paper.

Turn the risen dough onto a lightly floured surface. Cut in half and return one half to the bowl. Roll out the dough into a 10" circle. Lift the circle onto the lined baking tray (it's hard to move when it's all filled and shaped). Warm the nutella for a few seconds in the microwave so it's a bit melty (or stick the jar in a pot of hot water on the stove if you are a microwave eschewer). Spread the nutella over the circle of dough, leaving a 1" border. Press the fig and hazelnut mixture onto it, aiming for an even distribution of fig and chocolate morsels. Roll out the other half of the dough to the same size and cover the first layer, pressing down around the edge to seal.
If you like things really tidy, you can cut around the edge at this point to make it a perfect circle. I don't like things that tidy, and I was using a pizza tray to keep things in line.

Put a glass or ramekin in the middle of your bread - this is to discourage you from cutting too far into the middle. Make 16 evenly spaced cuts from the edge of the ramekin to the edge of the dough circle - the easiest way is to go from 12, 3, 6 and 9 o'clock, then bisect those cuts, then bisect those cuts.
Gently lift a wedge and give it a couple of anticlockwise twists. Lift the wedge to the right of that and give it a couple of clockwise twists. Then go around the bread twisting it in alternating directions. Press the ends of each opposing pair together, vertically, so you have 8 petals that Georgia O'Keeffe would recognise and be proud of.
Put the tray in a clean plastic bag, or cover with a clean damp tea towel and leave to prove for 30-45mins, or until the dough springs back if you poke it gently with your finger.
A veritable labial kaleidoscope
Pre-heat the oven to 200C.

Brush with beaten egg. Bake the bread for 25-35 minutes, or until risen and golden-brown. Brush lightly with honey to glaze - if you do it as soon as the bread comes out of the oven it will melt on and spread nicely. Set aside to cool on a wire rack. Allow to cool before serving, but best eaten fresh.


The Cat's Mother said...

I have had a lot to eat today, but that still makes me want a piece NOW!

Ailie said...

Oh wow, looks amazing. I'm clearly going to have to up my game for post class snacking!

Alicia Foodycat said...

Mother - it did work very well!

Lilith - I have to say, we don't always have cake in class!

Suelle said...

That looks beautiful - very professional! Was the fennel seed flavour very strong?

Joanne said...

What a gorgeous loaf! Sounds like it has great flavor.

Couscous & Consciousness said...

That looks extraordinary - showstopper barely begins to describe it.

Fantastic combo of flavours.

Alicia Foodycat said...

Suelle - not strong. Maybe every other bite had a faint fennel taste?

Joanne - thank you! I was very happy with it!

Sue - thank you!

Ajay Kumar said...

hey love the post ! awesome and great articles and congrates on reaching the top sites,.............i will be back visit to often.

grace said...

that is SO pretty! i wish you could've shared it with me--i would've given you kudos til you couldn't take any more!

Anonymous said...

Awesome!!! I love it so much!


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