Fig Hazelnut Bread and Reheating
If you like the flavor of licorice in jelly beans or fennel in sausages, you may like ground anise in breads too. I have not used anise seeds before in breads. But, why not? This unique and warm spice enlivens the fig and hazelnut bread. For the start, the sweetness of dried figs and the smoky nutty notes of roasted hazelnuts bring big flavor to the bread. Just the right amount. The surprising finish of anise is merely the icing on the cake, I mean, the bread. There is just so much to like about this bread.
The specifics of the fig hazelnut bread are shown in the cheat sheet below. In summary, a 12-hour stiff levain build, 20% in whole wheat flour, about 70% hydration, one fold half way through the 2 ½-hour bulk ferment and a 2-hour final rise. This is a straight-forward formula I’ve borrowed and adapted from Bread by Jeffrey Hamelman.
I made two loaves, ate one and froze the second one (which I forgot to score late at night.) Once reheated, the second loaf develops an unexpected crunchy crust, even better than the freshly baked loaf (the slice standing up, right below) as I can remember. Hard to believe.
Here is the bread reheating setting which have worked well for me: full steam at 212°F for 7 minutes, then convection bake at 320°F with 20% humidity for 35 minutes. The timing may differ depending on the size of the bread. The bread usually goes directly from the freezer to the cold oven. In case you wonder, there are countertop convection steam ovens which are fairly affordable and priced competitively. They are not heavy duty enough for baking breads, but perfect for reheating.
What goes well with the fig hazelnut bread? A fig salad tossing together fresh figs, baby kale leaves, prosciutto and a simple dressing. On its face, I’m convinced that the sum is better than the parts, including the bread!