On occasion, I fall victim to ill-advised Trader Joe’s impulse buys. A cupboard full of almonds and dried apricots was the fruit of such impulsive purchasing (pun … intended?). I thought they might be a nice change from endless permutations of cinnamon raisin bread. Plus, so much white bread was starting to make me feel a bit unwholesome and doughy, so I wanted to make something a healthier.
I had oats and whole-wheat flour on hand, so I used both, thus instantly restoring myself to health through the infusion of not one but two whole grains. Since I have a pretty strong sweet tooth, I included a good dollop of honey with the apricots and almonds.
This is a tasty, fairly dense, crusty loaf with excellent flavors. If I make this again, I think I’ll add even more honey – there is definitely a light sweetness, but it’s not pronounced. Most people would probably prefer it that way. The apricot and almond flavors are really wonderful – a bit unexpected, but not out there or overwhelming. They add character to what would otherwise be a nutritious-but-unexceptional grainy loaf of bread.
I feel as if this loaf is begging to be made into grilled cheese with gouda. I wish I had some gouda around to make it happen.
Oatmeal Bread with Apricots and Almonds
3 cups bread flour (or all-purpose flour plus 4 teaspoons vital wheat gluten, which is what I used)
1 cup oatmeal (I used regular, 5-minute cooking oats)
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon salt
2 ¼ teaspoons active dry yeast
1 tablespoon malted milk powder (optional)
¼ cup honey
1 ½ tablespoons butter, melted
1 ¼ to 1 ½ cups water, warm (about 120 degrees F)
1 cup dried apricots, chopped into ½ cm pieces
1 cup sliced almonds (I used dry toasted from Trader Joe’s)
Stir together all dry ingredients (except for apricots and almonds) in large bowl or in bowl for your stand mixer. Mix together honey, melted butter, and warm water, and add to dry ingredients – I’d recommend starting with 1 ¼ cups water and adding more if you need to get the dough to adhere.
Knead, either by hand or using the dough hook of your stand mixer, for 5-10 minutes or until smooth and elastic. Stir in dried apricots and almonds toward the end of the kneading time. Cover with oil and let rise in a warm place for about an hour and a half or until doubled in bulk.
Punch down, shape into desired shape (I just made a regular “loaf,” but not in a loaf pan, as one can see) and let rise in warm place until doubled again, another hour and a half or so.
Bake at 350 for 35-45 minutes or until crusty golden brown and hollow sounding when thumped. Makes one large-ish loaf.
Printable recipe here. I plan to submit this to Yeastspotting.