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Mesquite flour sourdough bread w/figs and pecans

April 7, 2014

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This sourdough bread was inspired my  5 foot tall,  4 year old fig tree which showed it’s first signs of green last week.  Central Texas had a more than usual number of sub-freezing temperature days this past winter.  I had resigned myself to expecting the tree had suffered severe damage.   It had already sprouted a few buds when another cold spell hit and froze them. I was very relieved to see new buds begin to open a week ago.  Fig trees do thrive well here in Austin,  but the unusual weather had me worried for this young one.   I can now look forward to grackles,  mockingbirds,  sparrows,  cardinals, and other fine-feathered visitors helping themselves to the figs.   They always get to the fruit before it’s fully ripened,  and then they will almost always leave half-eaten figs on the tree.  Last year I was able to salvage one glorious fig.

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Fig and walnut sourdough bread seems to be one of the popular kinds to make in the fruit and nut repertoire.  Locally abundant pecans sub for walnuts while mesquite flour, which I still have from my mesquite flour muffin making last summer add a wonderful distinct flavor.  Go to my recipe to see more about the muffins which came out very well.  The aroma of the flour reminds me a little of toasted coconut,  caramel,  or even chocolate.  It is made by drying and grinding the pods of the tree.  In this recipe I only put in 15% of the total flour so that it doesn’t dominate the overall flavor of the bread.  If you can’t find it in your specialty or organic supermarket,  a quick Amazon check will give you some options.  Two brands I’ve used can be found at http://www.zocalogourmet.com  and http://www.casademesquite.com .

A couple of notes: I used dried mission figs, which are still fairly soft and plump. If you use drier figs, you may want to lightly reconstitute them in water or maybe even a liquor.

My dough is very wet and sticky. I prefer it that way so that bread can turn out much lighter and airier.  If you’d rather not manage a wet and sticky dough,  start with 500 grams water and add more according to your desire.

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For 2 large or 3 medium loaves.

The levain:

3/4 tablespoon sourdough starter refreshed about 8 hours before

100 grams water (78 degrees F.)

50 grams bread flour

50 grams whole wheat flour

The final dough:

all the levain

700 grams water at 80 degrees F.

550 grams bread flour

300 grams whole wheat flour

150 grams mesquite flour

20 grams salt plus 50 grams water

1 1/2 heaping cups sliced dried figs

3/4 cup roughly chopped toasted pecans

 

The night before baking the bread make the levain.  In a small bowl dissolve the starter in the water.  Add the bread flour and whole wheat flour and mix until it is all moistened.  Cover with plastic wrap and let it sit overnight to ferment.  In a 75 degree F. ambient temperature it will take about 9 hours.  Check the next morning by dropping a spoonful in a small bowl of water. The levain is ready if it floats.

Toast the chopped pecans by roasting them in a 325 degree F. oven for a few minutes.  They will become slightly aromatic.  Let them cool.

To make the dough begin by dissolving the levain with the 700 grams water in a large bowl that will fit the rest of the ingredients.  Add the bread flour, whole wheat flour and mesquite flour. Mix well until there it is all moistened.  Cover with plastic and let it autolyse for about one hour.  Autolyse is the process where the flour begins to form gluten.   Because salt hinders the process it is left out at this point.  The dough will become easier to manage more quickly.

Dissolve the salt in the 50 grams of water as best you can and then add it to the dough by squeezing it in.  Put the dough in the bowl of your stand mixer and mix for about 5 minutes.  It will become smooth but still be quite sticky.  Remove it from the bowl and place it in a very lightly oiled bowl or container.  Lightly oil the top of the dough then cover the bowl with plastic.  After 30 minutes, uncover and give it a “turn”.  This is done by reaching and grabbing the bottom of the dough,  pulling it up,  and stretching it over the top part.  Do this one more time.  “Turn” the dough at 30 minute intervals for a total of 3 times.  After 1 1/2 hours you should have turned the dough 3 times.  Now let the dough ferment for about 1 1/2 to 2 more hours.  It will seem airier,  a little less sticky,  and increased in volume by about 20-25%.  The amount of time it ferments will depend on the temperature of your kitchen.  At 72-75 degrees F. ambient temperature,  my dough takes about 4 hours from the beginning of the turning phase to the beginning of the final shaping.

When the dough is ready for shaping, take it out of the container or bowl and put it on your work surface.  I find that a marble board works best.  Since this is a sticky dough, you can use all the help you can get.  Divide it into 2 large or 3 medium portions.  One by one,  form the portions into a nice round shape.  Use a pastry scraper for this,  as the sticky dough will be very hard to manage.  Try to create surface tension by tucking in the dough.  The surface tension you create will help in the oven spring while the dough is baking.  Lightly dust with flour and cover with plastic.  Let them rest about 20 minutes.

You are now ready to do the final shaping.  Take one of the portions and turn it upside down.  Grab the right third of dough and stretch it a bit to your right, then fold it over the middle third.  Next grab the left side, stretch it to your left and fold it over the middle.  Now take the third closest to you, stretch it toward you and fold it over the middle. Finally, do the same with the third farthest from you and fold it over the middle.  Turn the dough over once again so that the top section with the folds is now the bottom in contact with the work surface.  Repeat with the other portion(s).

If you made a dough that is fairly stiff and tacky you can place each of the portions on a piece of parchment paper.  They will hold their shape for their final proof.  If however your dough is very sticky you’ll need to set them in small bowls or baskets to help hold their shape.   Bannetons are the specially made proofing baskets used for breads.  If you are using them or makeshift baskets,  line them with a clean kitchen cloth,  then dust with flour.  Place the dough portions upside down in the banneton.  Lightly flour the top with flour and place plastic wrap on top.  Fold the overhanging kitchen cloth over the top.  Repeat with the other portions.  The final proofing should last about 4-5 hours depending on the temperature of your kitchen.  The dough should increase in volume by about 20-30% and feel airy to the touch.

Preheat your oven to 500 degrees F. about 45 minutes before you plan to bake.  Use a baking stone if you have one.

If you are not using bannetons,  place the dough in the oven by sliding them in with a peel.  The parchment paper really helps.  Lower the oven temperature to 425.  Spritz the oven with water carefully with a plant mister.  Bake until  the internal temperature of the bread reads 200 degrees.  Set the loaves on a wire rack to completely cool down.  If using bannetons,  uncover the dough, removing the plastic.  Place a piece of parchment paper a little wider than the size of the banneton.  Place your peel on top and flip it over carefully.  Remove the banneton and gently remove the cloth you used to line with.  Prepare all the portions of dough in that manner and then slide them into your oven.  Continue as described above,  lowering the oven and spritzing.  Bake until they read 200 degrees.

I’m taking this bread to The Novice Gardener’s weekly Fiesta Friday.  You can always find many inspiring chefs,  storytellers,  and photographers there.

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I enjoyed this bread as toast with ganache and cajeta.  I’ll try to update with photos soon.

 

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The first fig of the season?

 

 

 

 

 

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43 Comments leave one →
  1. April 7, 2014 1:46 pm

    This bread looks so good, I am so tempted to try it. I will have to find some mesquite flour first, but the rest of the ingredients I already have. I love any sourdough bread, and the fig and pecan mixture make it into a meal in itself. Your pictures are stunning. Glad you could make it to Fiesta Friday this week. I look forward to reading more of your posts.

    • April 7, 2014 7:19 pm

      Hello Hilda, nice to meet you. Thanks for the nice comments! Maybe you’ve used mesquite flour in your baking. I find it to be a very delicious and interesting addition or substitution in some baked goods. The two brands I mentioned are good products. I can’t speak for others. A little goes a long way.
      I’m glad to make it to Fiesta Friday. There is a lot going on!

  2. April 7, 2014 5:44 pm

    Figs in bread! This looks just glorious. Thanks for sharing!

  3. April 7, 2014 7:38 pm

    My mother would love this bread. She is a big fig fan. I remember my dad’s parents having a fig tree in their back yard and my cousin in Italy has one too. It’s a shame you only got to enjoy one fig from your tree! Can you put some netting around the tree? Or get a cat? I didn’t know wetter bread made lighter bread. I’ll have to remember that. Thanks for the tip!

    • April 8, 2014 1:49 am

      Marcella, figs have to be one of my favorite fruits, especially fresh ripe ones. There are a few trees around here. I just don’t see them yielding pounds of fruit like I remember. Maybe there are many more birds than before. When the tree was smaller, I used netting to protect the figs. Now it’s too big, maybe I should just cover individual branches. A cat by the way wouldn’t feel too welcomed by my 2 dogs!
      Whenever I want a bread to have larger holes in the crumb, I keep the dough more wet than usual. But there seems to be other factors, like what kind of dough you’re using and how you physically handle it. It’s not necessarily a steadfast rule. There is always something to learn about breads, isn’t there?

      • April 14, 2014 4:07 pm

        There are some cats that get along with dogs. There’s only one way to find out! Yes, maybe netting on some of the branches would work.

        My favorite fig is the Kadota fig. I used to be able to buy them in the can. They were light green. I just don’t see them anymore. Now all I see are mission figs.

        We have lots of bird problems here in Indy. Too many geese and when they decide to cross the street with their family, traffic comes to a dead halt.

        I just made some orange rye bread. I let one rise longer than the other and I let one bake longer than the other. I’m about 3/4 done with the first loaf and looking forward to starting on the second one to see what the difference will be. Once you get into baking bread, you become part scientist, don’t you? My breads often come out too dense or more dense than I would like them but it never stops me from eating them! lol!

    • April 15, 2014 1:07 am

      I’m curious now, if you get a chance let me know how the bread experiment comes out. Orange rye sounds good, I’m sure they will both come out tasty. Yes you kind of need a bit of a scientist’s spirit if you want to keep honing your baking skills. I think a good scientist also develops good intuition.
      I don’t recall seeing Kadota figs. Will keep my eye out for them. I’m making a point of buying some fresh figs this season.
      I bet mother geese can get very protective of her chicks!

      • April 18, 2014 3:25 pm

        I will make a note to let you know. I now have a TO DO list that I put on my Flash Drive and take with me to the library!

      • April 22, 2014 2:56 pm

        I like the second loaf better. When I divided the loaves in half, I accidentally put more dough in the first loaf than the second so that may have affected the difference too. The second loaf was less dense. If you find the kadota figs, let me know. I did do a search on the internet for them once and I did find them.

    • April 24, 2014 1:19 am

      Sometimes it’s hard to figure out exactly why a loaf baked the way it did. It can be kind of an exact science, yet you have to determine to the best approximation how much time to let it rise.
      Kadota figs are still on my lookout list.

      • April 24, 2014 2:54 pm

        I think you’ll have to get the kadota figs online. I haven’t seen them in any stores, not for a very long time, like, decades!

  4. April 8, 2014 1:00 am

    Never used mesquite flour before, although I’ve seen a documentary on how First (Native) Americans use mesquite flour to sweeten foods and drinks, and I’ve been fascinated by it ever since. The bread looks just wonderful, Gerard. I wish I could have a taste. I’m going to buy another fig tree. This is my 4th try! They keep dying on me. This time I’m going to plant it next to a SE facing wall. Hope that will help. 🙂

    • April 8, 2014 2:17 am

      Yes, mesquite flour does have a sweet quality about it. I like using it when I can.
      Good luck with your fig tree. I’m not a fig tree expert, but they do seem to grow in size pretty rapidly. I remember when some neighbors’ trees yielded so much fruit that some figs rotted on the tree. That seems like only daydream now!

  5. April 8, 2014 7:24 pm

    I was waiting to see what you brought to the table, Gerard!
    What a gorgeous bread! Figs and Pecans on a sourdough??? Wow :). I loved your recipe. So do you freeze the sourdough starters?

    • April 8, 2014 8:08 pm

      Hi Sonal, Thank you very much. I’ve never frozen my starter. I feed it every day and if I have to be away for awhile, I’ll keep it in the refrigerator. I’ve been thinking about posting a recipe/process for a starter. You just gave me an idea. I could freeze the new one and see how to revive it. Thank you! I hope you’re having a good week!

  6. April 11, 2014 4:25 pm

    OK I would love to make this, but i get nervous around making bread, but love sourdough, but need to ask you what is mesquite flour and what is a starter? You see I’ve never done that before so it’s like reading another language, LOL…but I am keen try hence re blogged on to my scrapbook x

    • April 12, 2014 1:07 am

      Hi, thanks for liking and reblogging! Mesquite flour is not really like the gluten variety of flour we all know of. It’s the powder made from grinding the dried pods of the mesquite tree. In case you are not familiar with the tree, I have a couple of photos in the link, “my recipe”, in this post.
      A sourdough starter is a culture of yeast that you begin “from scratch” and maintain for your bread making. You have to feed it regularly with more flour and water to keep it alive.( I should post a recipe for a starter.) I was *very* intimidated when I started sourdough bread baking, but got used to the process when I started learning with basic recipes. I encourage you to try it! Breads made with “wild yeast” are in a different category than those made with commercial yeast.
      Thank you for your interest in my bread!

      • April 13, 2014 6:54 am

        Oh wow if I ever thought it was complicated I know it’s complicated now lol really my eyes went cross eyes reading all that. I can imagine it tastes amazing but I wouldn’t even know how to make that starter thing let alone the bread. Shame you don’t live nearby I would buy some from you he he. Id love to cook wheat free as trying a different diet for my pain x

    • April 14, 2014 12:05 am

      I guess I didn’t do a good job of expressing the idea that it’s not hard to make sourdough breads! lol It sounds like a lot more work than it actually is. After a try or two, you’ll get the hang of it.

    • April 15, 2014 12:31 am

      🙂 Uh huh, oh yeah, sure.

  7. April 11, 2014 4:25 pm

    Reblogged this on Justine's scrapbook and commented:
    sourdough bread

  8. April 12, 2014 4:49 pm

    I just came over from Angie’s Fiesta Friday, very nice to find someone who enjoy bread baking, especially sour dough! I tried fig and walnut before with my sour dough, but pecan sounds very nice! I’ve never heard of mesquite flour, learning new thing everyday!

    • April 13, 2014 12:02 am

      Hi, thanks for visiting my blog! Yes, I learn something every time I bake bread, I’m still learning! The mesquite flour blended very well with the figs and pecans. I almost used walnuts but wanted to use a nut from a tree that is very common around my neighborhood.

  9. April 17, 2014 7:15 pm

    Looks delicious Gerard! I hope my friends’ fig tree made it through the winter, so I can give this recipe a go! 🙂
    PS- I tried the Jalapeño Cheddar Bread and it was awesome, thanks for sharing your recipes!

    • April 17, 2014 7:40 pm

      Hi Emily, fellow bread lover, thank you, wow, you made the jalapeno cheddar bread! I hope the recipe was easy to follow or adapt. It’s very nice to get a compliment like that. I was happy with the taste and the texture of it… As far as the fig and pecan bread, I liked how the mesquite flour gave a very hearty and unique flavor. It’s one of those flavors that keeps people guessing as to what it is.
      And as far as winter, I’m glad that it’s over now!

      • April 21, 2014 2:51 pm

        Hi Gerard, It was very easy to follow no problem! I did add a little more cheese though haha! Bread with cheese is my kryptonite! I’m curious about the mesquite flour; as you described it, the chocolatey flavor pairs perfectly with the figs and pecans. I placed an order for it and I’ll let you know how it goes. 🙂

    • April 17, 2014 7:47 pm

      P.S. I’m still on the lookout for cherimoya!

    • April 21, 2014 8:11 pm

      Yes, let me know what you think of mesquite flour and how it goes with your bread. The flavor is almost indescribable to me, that’s why I mentioned coconut and caramel as well. I think it also has good potential for other kinds of baked goods.
      Thanks for the link to cherimoya! I have a couple of more supermarkets to check. I’ll be a little disappointed if our super duper Latin grocery store doesn’t have it.

  10. ReloNavigator permalink
    May 2, 2014 5:20 am

    What is your recipe for the upcoming Cinco de Mayo? Just thought I would ask!

    • May 2, 2014 9:06 pm

      Good question! Not sure yet, I hope to have something up for this Cinco de Mayo weekend.
      Thanks for “liking”!

  11. May 5, 2014 3:02 am

    Hey, Gerard, just want to let you know that we’re running a Fiesta Friday Challenge, calling for recipes using yeast and bread together. This is right up your alley. You’ll have to join!

    • May 5, 2014 9:54 am

      HI Angie, yes thanks for reminding me. It’s a fun challenge I’ll to be a part of. In the meantime I hope to be a latecomer to your Fiesta Friday #14. Hope to see you then!

  12. May 10, 2014 6:31 pm

    Figs and nuts in bread, that’s truly delicious bread!

    • May 10, 2014 11:47 pm

      I agree! Figs and nuts are great in bread, as well as in ice cream, muffins, chocolate, cookies,…….

  13. Mikaela Jones permalink
    May 11, 2015 7:30 pm

    Hello there, I am volunteering for an organization in Tucson, AZ that focuses on harvesting and using native sonoran desert foods, mesquite being one of them. We are putting out a second edition of a cookbook released in 2009 and I am curious if you would be interested in submitting this recipe. The organization is called desert harvesters, you can find out about them here: http://www.desertharvesters.org/ Thanks! And thanks for the bread, it is absolutely delicious.

    • May 12, 2015 9:01 pm

      Hello Mikaela, Thank you for visiting my blog and for your interest in the bread! Thanks for the nice compliment. I am interested in submitting my recipe for consideration. I enjoyed going through your very informative website and support your goals.
      Perhaps you need to send more details. Please contact me at: carambolita@hotmail.com
      Thanks again!
      Gerard Villanueva

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  1. Fiesta Friday #10 | The Novice Gardener
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