I have already mentioned, many a time, that I have the greatest friends. They spoil me with gifts of yummies and words of encouragement. So when one of them gave me a sizable stock of her apricots and pumpkin seeds, I had to protest asking her to keep some for herself. “They are just lying in my fridge”, she said, “Maybe you will find a better use for them”. I did accept her largess telling myself I would soon bake her something. Days stretched into weeks by which time I had forgotten the promise I made to myself. One day when I opened my freezer, the apricots just tumbled out, filling my open palms. I stared guiltily at them. Now of course I had to bake something for my friend. There was still one dilemma. Should I bake a cake or scones or a bread?
I finally settled on a bread. I had decided to do a mix of whole wheat and all purpose flour. scattered within would be little nuggets of apricots and pumpkin seeds. Personally I prefer to eat these Indian dried apricots as is. They are smaller, sweeter and somehow more palatable to me than the Turkish orange ones which are larger, yellowish orange with a pronounced tartness. The most delightful thing about the Indian dried apricot, was that once you were done with the chewy fruit you could crack the kernel open and then munch on the tiny little almond-like nut. In fact I remember taking the trouble of collecting a whole bunch of these nuts before I finally sat down to enjoy my hard earned snack.
So when it came down to using some of the apricots to make something for my friend, it was a tough fight between an apricot tea cake and bread. I will not go into the details of this gory battle, but as I already mentioned, the bread won out in the endI looked again in my fridge and found I had some peach juice. It was perfect to soak these yummy apricots to plump them up again. I decided to use half all purpose and half whole wheat flour. One for the lightness and the other for the robust, wholesome flavour of the earth. Studded in between would be luscious morsels of juicy apricots and a bite of the nutty pumpkin seeds.
The recipe itself was very simple . I added the leftover peach juice and a touch of honey to mildly sweeten the loaf and just a smigen of butter to make it tender. Roughly chopped apricots bursting with juice went into the dough and a few pumpkin seeds into my mouth. I wanted to keep it rustic and so shaped it into a boule. You can bake it in a loaf pan if you wish, but there is something about the freestyle shaping that warms my heart. It just feels like it is filled with the comfort of home, if you know what I mean.
As the warm bread came out of the oven all golden and delicious, with the crunchy seeds on top, I could not help but wonder how it would taste. The only way that I would find out was if I cut myself a slice. All resolutions of saving the boule for my friend vanished. It would be a shame to give out bread which did not taste great. Imagine the horror! So in the best interest of everyone concerned, I would have to taste it. One slice led to another and quarter of the loaf disappeared. Now, I cannot give away a half eaten loaf. So the rest disappeared the next day warmed and grilled ever so slightly. My friend, God bless her soul, would have to wait for me to bake this bread again. She had given me more than enough apricots to make me bake this bread twice over if needed. I promise, I will send the next loaf over to her.
1 cup Whole wheat flour
1 cup Bread flour (or all purpose flour with 1 tbs added gluten )
1/8 cup soft butter
1/2 Tbs Honey
1 tsp Salt
2 tsp Instant Yeast
Handful of dried apricots
Enough juice of your choice to cover and soak the apricots (Just don’t pick something weird)
Handful of pumpkin seeds
3/4 cup of water.
- Soak the apricots in the juice for a couple of hours until completely rehydrated, plump and juicy.
- Chop the fruit into rough pieces. (Save the kernel to eat later. Cook’s treat!)
- Mix the flours, honey, salt, yeast, and soft butter in a bowl and add the juice left over from soaking the fruit.
- Add enough water to make a soft dough.
- Gently mix in the chopped fruit and most of the pumpkin seeds; Save some to top your loaf. (Remember the fruit when you add water to make the dough. The fruit is juicy and will add moisture to the dough. And you don’t want to add it in the beginning and puree the fruit in the process of kneading.)
- Place in an oiled bowl, cover and set aside for the first rise.
- When the dough has doubled, gently de-gas and shape into a boule.
- Roll in the leftover pumpkin seeds and place on a tray and cover for the second rise.
- When almost doubled, place in a pre-heated oven 200 C, and bake for about 25 minutes or until done.
- Allow to cool completely before tasting.
The first loaf is all yours so keep smiling.