Rosemary Pecan Bread

This recipe is one that comes from Mark Miller’s Indian Market Cookbook, an old favourite of mine from the 90’s. It is wonderfully fragrant and beautiful on the table. It’s delicious served with savoury items, and it makes a mean grilled cheese “envelope”. The recipe makes 2 loaves, so you can freeze one or give it away!

5 cups / 1130 g unbleached flour

 1 tbsp / 15 g active dry yeast 

2 tbsp / 30 g sugar

2 cups / 475 mL warm water (about 100F /38C)

1 cup / 250 g pecans, chopped

3/4 cup / 170 g whole wheat flour

2 tbsp / 30 g vegetable oil 

2 tsp / 10 g salt

2 tbsp / 30 g finely chopped fresh rosemary (don’t use dried)

2-3 tbsp / 30-45 g cornmeal, to keep the loaves from sticking while baking

Preheat the oven to 350F / 175C. In a large mixing bowl, mix together the unbleached flour, yeast, sugar and water. Cover with a damp towel or plastic wrap and allow this fermenting “sponge” to rise in a warm place for 20 to 30 minutes or until it has doubled in size. 

Meanwhile, place the pecans on a baking sheet and toast in the preheated oven for approximately 15 minutes, until browned. Turn off the oven. (You can do this in a toaster oven if you have one, to save energy.)

Stir down the sponge with a long-handled wooden spoon or rubber spatula, and add the pecans, wholewheat flour, oil, salt and rosemary, stirring until smooth. (It might be a bit tough to get all the bits incorporated; if so, just pour it all out on the counter and knead it in.)

Transfer the dough to a lightly floured work surface. Knead the dough for 5 to 10 minutes, until smooth and elastic (it will “bounce back” when you knead it). Place the dough in a lightly oiled bowl and turn it to coat thoroughly. Cover with a damp towel and let the dough rise in a warm place for 45 minutes to 1 hour, or until it has doubled again. 

Punch down the dough (literally, take your fist and punch into the middle of the dough ball!) Divide it in 2 equal pieces, shaping them into round loaves by tucking under the bottom as you rotate it with your other hand. Place the loaves on a baking sheet that has been sprinkled with the cornmeal. Allow the loaves to rise again for 1 hour, or until doubled. 

Preheat the oven to 400F / 205C. Sprinkle the loaves with a little flour and slash the tops with a sharp knife or a razor blade, making cuts about 3 inches / 7.5 cm long and 1/2 inch / 1.25 cm deep. Bake in the preheated oven for 20-25 minutes or until golden and the loaves sound hollow when tapped on the bottom. Remove from the oven and turn out on a wire rack to cool (if you don’t remove them from the baking sheet, the bottoms will get soggy.) 

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