It’s hard to resist a freshly baked bread, studded with fruit soaked in Vino Cotto and the crunch of nuts. This bread taste and smells delicious and goes well with sweet and savoury toppings or simply toasted with a smear of butter.
The bread is a wonderful accompaniment to a cheese platter and especially delicious with soft gooey Camembert cheese topped with a slice of pear.
400g plain flour
130g spelt or wholemeal flour
1 ½ tsp cinnamon
15g fresh yeast or 1 packet (7g) dried yeast
400ml warm water
100g hazelnuts, roasted and skin removed, cut in half
150g dried figs (approx.. 5 to 6 figs), stem removed, diced
4 to 5 tbsp Vino Cotto
An hour before starting to make bread, place the diced figs in a bowl and add the Vino Cotto. Let soak at room temperature. Stir occasionally.
Using a large bowl, add the flours, salt and cinnamon and mix to combine. Add the yeast to the water and stir to dissolve. Let rest for 5 minute. Then add yeast to the flour mixture. Combine with your hands to form a dough. Add a little more flour if needed. Transfer dough on a lightly floured work surface and gently knead for at least 10 minutes.
Using the palm of your hand stretch the dough into a rectangular shape. Sprinkle the hazelnut and soaked figs including any remaining Vino Cotto in the bowl onto the dough. Lightly press down the mixture so that it sticks to the dough.
Starting with the far end, roll the dough tightly towards you like a cylinder. Then fold one end in and then the other. Gently knead to form a smooth dough.
Place the dough into a clean bowl that has been lightly oiled. Cover the dough with plastic wrap and leave to prove in a warm draft free place for about 2 hours. I like to wrap the bowl in a blanket.
Turn the dough onto the floured work surface and knock back to release the air from the dough. This will help develop the gluten structure. Knock back the dough three times at 20 minute intervals.
Preheat over to 220C degrees.
If you are using a baking stone then place it into the cold oven to warm up gradually.
Shape the dough either into small balls or into a log, cover with a towel and let rest for 40-50 minutes away from any draughts.
Place a small cake pan in the oven with an inch of water on the shelf beneath the loaf to create steam and develop a chewy crust.
Using a sharp knife make three slashes on the surface of the dough, about 1/2cm deep.
Place dough on baking stone or lined tray and place in the oven. Bake for 30-40 minutes or until golden. Loaf should sound hallow when tapped on the bottom and well browned.
Turn off oven and leave loaf in oven with door slightly ajar for about 5 minutes. This will allow bread to dry out.
Cool on a rack.