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Thursday, January 10, 2013

Prune Walnut Swirl Bread inspired by Vanity Fare {book tour}

author: Megan Caldwell
publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks
source: TLC book tours
"foodie" elements: yes
soft cover: 416 pages

random excerpt:  He hoisted his fork, a lumpy, gooey mess of pie balanced precariously on its tines.  He held it toward me, nodding his head in an impatient way.  I had no choice.  p. 116

summary/synopsis (from TLC site): Molly Hagan is overwhelmed.

Her husband left her for a younger, blonder woman; her six-year-old son is questioning her authority, and now so is she. In order to pay her Brooklyn rent and keep her son supplied with Pokémon and Legos, not to mention food and clothing, she has to get a job—fast.

So when an old friend offers Molly a freelance position copywriting for a new bakery, finding romance is just about the last thing on her mind. But the sexy British pastry chef who’s heading up the bakery has other thoughts. And then so does Molly, when she meets the chef’s intimidating business partner—who also happens to have a secret that might prevent Molly from getting her own happily ever after.

my thoughts/review:  This was a fun, quick read.  Pure chick-lit (in my mind).  It wasn't food-centric, but food did play a large enough role to warrant a mention.  A great book to stick in your purse or bag for pulling out while waiting (doctor's office, subway, train, car, you-get-the-point) or to curl up with on a lazy day and read whilst enjoying coffee and baked goods.

about the author: Megan Caldwell grew up in a remote town in New Hampshire where she devoured every book of fiction in her well-read parents’ library. An English literature major at Barnard College with double minors in political science and religion, Megan wrote and edited reviews for a music industry magazine for fifteen years. Eventually, she became editor-in-chief and went on to develop conference programs for the industry. Now she is the community manager for Heroes and Heartbreakers, a romance novel website, where she blogs daily as Megan Frampton about the fiction she reads. She lives in Brooklyn with her husband and son.

further info: website | pinterest | facebook | twitter
recipe inspired by the book:  Prune Walnut Swirl Bread.  One of Molly's descriptions for the bakery was titled "Prunes and Prejudice", stemming from the fact that, although people love many types of dried fruits, prunes are often dismissed.  The bread from Vanity Fare (the name of the bakery) is described as a "light, moist, utterly tasty prune bread, packed with walnuts" that when lavishly spread with cream cheese will make you realize that "everything you thought was true is not".  That's what I was aiming for when I came up with this loaf.  I succeeded, if I do say so myself.  And I do.  I say so.

Prune Walnut Swirl Bread

by Heather Schmitt-González
Prep Time: ~2½ hours, mostly unattended
Cook Time: ~35 minutes
Keywords: bake bread vegetarian nuts prunes American

Ingredients (1 loaf)
  • ¾ c. (4½ oz.) chopped, dried plums (prunes)
  • 1 c. hot tap water
  • ¼ c. (2 fluid oz.) maple syrup or honey
  • 1¼ tsp. active dry yeast
  • 2 c. (9 oz.) whole wheat flour
  • 1 c. (4.5 oz.) bread flour + more as needed
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1 Tbs. unsalted butter, at room temp.
  • ½ c. (2 oz.) chopped, toasted walnuts
Pour hot water over prunes and let sit until very soft (almost mushy). Strain, saving liquid (adding extra to make 1 cup). Set prunes aside.

If the prune liquid is not at lukewarm (~110° F), bring it to that temperature in the microwave or on the stove top. Dissolve the maple syrup (or honey) and the yeast in the water and let sit until it looks creamy.
Place whole wheat flour and bread into the bowl of a stand mixer, along with the salt and nutmeg. Stir to combine, then add the yeast mixture and the butter. Mix on low speed until the dough starts to come together. Turn up the speed to medium and allow to knead for ~5 minutes or so, until dough is supple and soft, but not too stiff.

Form dough into a ball and place in an oiled boiled, cover with a clean kitchen towel or plastic wrap and set aside to rise until doubled in bulk, ~ 60 minutes (this could vary a bit depending on the heat of your kitchen).

Combine the wet prunes and the chopped, toasted walnuts. You should have a sort-of lumpy paste.
Turn dough out onto a lightly floured work surface. Gently roll and pat out into an ~15"x7" rectangle. Spread the prune mixture fairly evenly over the surface, leaving a 1" border at one of the short edges. Starting at the short edge without the 1" border, tightly roll the dough up (jelly-roll style). Pinch together at the seam.

Place roll into a greased loaf pan, seam side down. Cover and allow to rise until dough has doubled in size, ~45-60 minutes. Preheat oven to 350° F during the last 15 minutes of rise time.

Slide risen loaf into preheated oven and bake for 45 minutes, or until golden brown and a thermometer registers 190° F when inserted in the center of the loaf. Turn the bread out of the pan and let it cool on a wire rack before slicing.

Serve plain or toasted and spread with cream cheese or butter.
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I received a free copy of this book from the publisher.  All thoughts and opinions stated in this post are 100% mine. This post contains Amazon affiliate links.
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