Being overwhelmed by the warm smell of bread baking in the oven will make you weak in the knees. It intrigues not only your appetite but also brings comfort to your soul. However, the kitchen at h.e.a.r.t. is outdoors during Phase 1. The oven in our outdoor primitive kitchen isn’t very convenient and the aroma is taken by the whispering wind. Instead of turning a knob and simply pre-heating the oven in a matter of minutes our students go through an entirely different process.
Rather than an oven made of stainless steel and metal racks we have a clay oven outside. To “pre-heat” the oven a fire must be built inside and burn for 1 ½ to 2 hours before anything can be baked. Before the sun rises, the students gather all things necessary to start and maintain a fire. As the fire burns, the clay walls soak in the heat and create a cozy cave perfect for baking a couple loaves of bread. While the fire is burning the students and I whip up a double batch of Slovenian Almond-Apricot Bread then head out to the clay oven.
The fire has done its job and now must be pulled out in order to make room for the bread. In order to keep a good consistent heat, we cover the bread pans with foil, slide them in the oven, and then place a small barrier of coals at the front of the oven. A piece of wood acts as a door on the front and then we relax and let the oven do the rest of the work. 45-50 minutes later we pull out these beauties.
After they cool, we top the loaves with a simple glaze made from powdered sugar, milk, vanilla, and almond extract. Simply mix ingredients together until you make as much as you need and to the flavor you desire.
Slovenian Almond-Apricot Bread
Recipe from Sundays At Moosewood Restaurant Cookbook
Yields 1 Loaf
1 ½ cups water
1 ½ cups dried unsulfured apricots,chopped
2 tablespoons butter
½ cup maple syrup
1 egg, beaten
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 teaspoon freshly grated orange rind
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 ½ cups unbleached white flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon baking powder
1 cup toasted, chopped almonds
- In a medium saucepan, bring the water and apricots to a boil and then simmer until very soft, for at least 10 minutes. Add the butter, maple syrup, egg, vanilla, and orange rind and stir well until the butter melts. Remove the mixture from the heat.
- Preheat the oven to 350*.
- Sift together the flours, salt, soda, and baking powder. Fold the dry ingredients into the apricot mixture. Add the chopped almonds and blend well.
- Spread the batter evenly into an oiled medium loaf pan. Bake for one hour and 15 minutes, until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean. Allow the bread to cool for several minutes before removing it from the pan.
- The bread is moist and flavorful enough to enjoy plain, but it is also delicious with sweet butter or cream cheese and slightly tart fruit marmalade or apricot jam.
post by Ashley Carter