The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

To soak? Not to soak?

gianfornaio's picture
gianfornaio

To soak? Not to soak?

I'm going to try to replicate an incredible apricot-sage hearth bread I had a couple of years ago at New Pioneer Co-op in Iowa City, IA; I'm just trying to figure out whether I should soak the apricots or otherwise prepare them before throwing them into the dough. Has anyone tried both who can compare the options, or does anyone swear by one technique or the other? Should I expect them (if unsoaked) to draw moisture out of the dough?

Any observations from experience would be welcome.

bshuval's picture
bshuval

I just happened to bake Apricot sage bread a few days ago (see my blog entry for January 21, 2008). I also used a little bit of prunes, but mostly apricots.

I soaked the dried fruit, and retained the soaking water. The soaking plumps and moistens them up, and water becomes sweet and flavorful, which tenderizes the dough. I liked the result. The dried fruit became very much an integral part of the loaf. 

One thing I should mentioned is that I did not use enough sage, in my opinion. Next time I will use more, as its flavor was not pronounced enough. However, apricots and sage do make a delicious combination.

Good luck, and keep us posted on your results!

 

My bread blog: http://foldingpain.blogspot.com

gianfornaio's picture
gianfornaio

That's a fine looking star you've baked. How much sage did you use? 

I also enjoyed reading about your couronne-- I baked a couple of those two weeks ago (pepper-bacon, roughly from Alford & Duguid's Homebaking, but inspired by travels in Italy 8 years ago) but they weren't shaped nearly as well as yours.

Thanks!

bshuval's picture
bshuval

I just used a handful of leaves. Definitely not enough, as when you bite into a bit that has both an apricot piece ands a sage piece, you see why this is a fantastic combination. 

My bread blog: http://foldingpain.blogspot.com

KipperCat's picture
KipperCat

When making Thanksgiving dressing, I've found that dried sage gives a more pronounced sage flavor than fresh, even when using 3 or 4 times more fresh than dried.  I wonder if this would be true for bread as well?

gianfornaio's picture
gianfornaio

I suppose dried sage would break down more and distribute more evenly; with the fresh it just doesn't really transfer to everything it comes in contact with unless it's bruised a little-- which, now that I think of it, I kind of wish I'd done with this one... I used two sprigs of fresh sage (for something like 30 0z of flour) and just minced it finely; I tossed it with the 6 oz of soaked apricots and maybe 2 Tbsp sugar (hoping the maceration would tie the sage in a little more). The bread was spectacular, but could have had a bit more sage flavor. The sage was never really assertive, just a subtle undercurrent enhancing the apricot. Nonetheless, great.

Sorry, I should really have taken pictures, but it was a pretty homely loaf-- the dough was a little wet to slash well, and the apricots scorched a bit in the oven. It was very rustic; that little bit of carbon didn't detract much from the flavor.