In less than a week, Maths dude and I will be in NEW ZEALAND!!! I’m mega excited and not even sure if I’ll get to post again before we leave. We have a two-week road trip planned. When I say “planned”, I mean we have booked a car and have a rough sort of idea that the South Island IS BRIMMING WITH NATURAL BEAUTY EVERYWHERE YOU TURN, but that’s as far as we’ve gotten with the planning as of today.
How good are road trips and exploring? Last year I road tripped around the North Island with three girlfriends. It was winter then too. We had a campervan that was meant to sleep the four of us but it really felt like you were lying in your own coffin when you went to go to sleep. We did everything from park it up in a dodgy park in Tauranga with no facilities, to staying in an alpine chalet at Tongariro National Park. I have been reading about so many summer hikes and road trips on all of your lovely Northern Hemisphere blogs. While summer sounds grand and all… I’m kind of excited about these two weeks of true winter that we’re going to have in the South Island. I whinge about how cold it feels in Brisbane lately, but secretly I acknowledge that 17C in the middle of winter really ain’t that bad.
New Zealand has a special place in my heart for lots of reasons that maybe I’ll talk about when I’m back. If there was any chance that New Zealand would let me into their country with loaves of homemade bread in my bag, then this fig, hazelnut + apricot fruit loaf is what I would be bringing over for the family and friends who will be letting us into their homes and listening to us complain about how cold it is.
This loaf is based on the regular bread recipe that I use, except I added brown sugar, cinnamon, and a heap of dried figs, whole hazelnuts, dried apricots and sultanas. The first time I experimented with this loaf I was too heavy handed on the dried fruit, and I didn’t chop it up because I wanted each slice to have big, jammy cross-sections of the whole figs and apricots, like the best fruit toast you get in cafes. But it struggled to prove properly so ended up quite heavy. I also used an enriched dough, which I think would be better if you were making this into scrolls or iced buns.
The second version turned out so much better! I diced the dried fruit and made a regular spiced bread dough in place of the enriched dough. It rose beautifully and held itself together as I sliced it. There’s no other way to eat this than toasted with butter and maybe some jam. Happy bread-making! And I hope to update whilst I’m frolicking in NZ, but if not I’ll see you when I get back.
- 3 cups / 450g plain flour (or strong bread flour, if on hand)
- 1 x 7g sachet dried instant yeast
- 3 tsp cinnamon
- ¼ cup / 50g dark brown sugar
- ½ tsp salt
- 50g hazelnuts, skin on
- 50g sultanas
- 50g dried apricots, chopped
- 50g dried figs, chopped
- 1 extra large egg
- 150ml milk
- 100ml tap water
- Line a bread tin with baking paper. I cut the baking paper so that it is slightly narrower than the width of the tin, and I also allow some overhang so that the bread can be easily lifted out at the end.
- In a large bowl, add the flour, yeast, cinnamon, dark brown sugar, salt, hazelnuts, sultanas, dried apricots and dried figs. Combine. (I learnt from watching The Great British Bake-Off that the yeast and salt should be placed on separate sides of the bowl, otherwise the salt will kill the yeast. Supposedly.)
- Make a well in the middle and crack in the egg. Pour in the milk and water. Mix using a wooden spoon until it has started to come together in a rubbly heap.
- Flour the bench and tip the dough onto the bench. Knead for *at least* 10 minutes. You are looking for a smooth and stretchy dough.
- Form into a log and place into the bread tin. Cover with cling film or a tea towel and leave to rise in a warm place for around an hour, until doubled in size. When nearly doubled, preheat the oven to 200C/180C fan forced.
- Bake for 25-30 minutes. It should sound hollow when knocked with your knuckles and have a deep brown crust all over the top.
- Allow to cool before slicing.
The 150g total of dried fruit and 50g nuts could be replaced with any dried fruit and nuts you like or have on hand.