If you have sourdough fatigue, but still crave the aroma of freshly baked bread in the house, then try this Muesli bread recipe, packed with dried fruits and your choice of nuts or seeds (or both). I love serving this bread with cheese and while this bread complements triple crème Brie or a pungent blue, my favourite pairing is with an aged hard cheese like “5 Brothers” from Gunn’s Hill Artisan Cheese in Woodstock, (pictured) available at major groceries and specialty stores. It shares traits of an aged Gouda and a Swiss Appenzeller and the sweetness of the fruits and nuts in the breads makes for a wonderful way to start or finish a meal.
Makes 1 large round loaf (16 to 20 slices)
Prep Time: 15 minutes, plus rising
Cook Time: 60 minutes
2½ cups (375 g) whole wheat flour
¾ cup (75 g) regular rolled oats
¼ cup (25 g) unsweetened dried shredded coconut
3 Tbsp (24 g) ground flaxseed
2¼ tsp (1 pkg) instant dry yeast
2 tsp finely grated orange zest
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 cup (250 mL) water
½ cup (125 mL) 1% or 2% milk
3 Tbsp (45 mL) pure maple syrup
1 tsp fine salt
1½ cups (about 200 g) dried fruits of your choice (see note)
1 cup (about 100 g) nuts and/or seeds of your choice (see note)
1. Stir together the flour, oats, coconut, ground flaxseed, yeast, orange zest and cinnamon in a large bowl.
2. In a small saucepan, heat the water and milk together until about 105°F (41°C), or combine hot tap water with cold milk. Add this liquid and the maple syrup to the flour and stir until blended. Let sit, uncovered, for 15 minutes.
3. Add the salt to the bowl and mix again, then turn the dough out onto a surface (dust with whole wheat flour, if needed) and knead the bread until it springs back and feels elastic, about 4 minutes. Return the dough to the bowl, cover and let sit on the counter for about 90 minutes, until doubled in size.
4. Turn the dough back out onto your work surface and flatten it out. Sprinkle the dried fruits, nuts and seeds on top, folding and twisting the dough to work them in (the fruits and nuts will scatter at first, but just keep kneading them in). Shape the dough into a ball, cover with a tea towel and let rest for 30 minutes.
5. Preheat the oven to 400°F (200°C) and line the bottom of an enamel cast-iron pot with parchment paper (or line a baking tray with parchment paper). Gently drop the bread dough into the pot, score the top with a few slashes using a sharp knife and cover with a lid (do not cover if placing on the tray). Bake for 15 minutes with the lid on, then remove the lid, reduce the oven temperature to 375°F (190°C) and bake for about 35 minutes more. Tip the loaf out of the pot onto a cooling rack (or transfer from the baking tray to the rack).
6. Check the bread for doneness by tapping the bottom of the loaf. If it sounds hollow (like a drum), then it is fully cooked. If the sound is more of a dull “thump,” put the loaf back in the oven (directly on the oven rack) for 5 to 10 minutes more. Cool the loaf on a cooling rack for at least an hour before slicing. The muesli loaf will keep, well wrapped, for up to 3 days or can be frozen for up to 3 months.
When adding dried fruits, make sure to cut larger fruits such as dried apricots, prunes or figs to match the size of smaller fruits such as raisins or dried cranberries.
If using nuts in this bread, avoid super-dense or crunchy ones such as whole almonds, hazelnuts or Brazil nuts. They can ruin your perfect slice by tearing the bread when you cut into it or surprising you with their firmness when you take a bite.
Adapted from Baking Day with Anna Olson, Appetite by Penguin Random House, 2020.