I know so many people who don’t eat nuts because their only real experiences with them have been a) shelled nuts, usually highly salted, in packets, that have been sitting around supermarket shelves for ages, or b) nuts in shell at Christmas time.
Both these option are perfect ways to spoil nuts for you forever! Nuts go off. Once they are shelled, they go off fast, and even in the shell, they don’t last for months. Most nuts are harvested in autumn. Macas are harvested through winter. Any nuts in shell at Christmas are either imported or most of a year old and are not going to be at all nice!
Once you get the idea of only using fresh, in season nuts, preferably in shell, you’ll have a totally different experience with them. Which is a good thing, because nuts are very delicious and very nutritious – good oils and a whole lot of minerals that are hard to get. We’re getting to the end of our macadamias now, but the commercial picking season is just getting going, so you should be able to get fresh macas.
(The Breakfast Cereal Challenge is my 2011 challenge – a year’s worth of breakfast recipes that are quick and easy enough to be a real option for weekdays, and that are preferable, in nutrition, ethics, and taste, to the overpackaged, overpriced, mostly empty packets of junk food marketed as “cereal” .)
Ok, so this one takes more than 10 minutes to make. (Actually, it doesn’t take much more than 10 minutes work, just that work is spread over 24 hours). But I reckon it qualifies for the Breakfast Cereal Challenge because with a loaf in the bread bin, super healthy toast is 2 minutes away.
The basis for this is very much like my Everyday Sourdough recipe. The fruit and nuts though inhibit the rising, and I like it best when it’s chokka with fruit and nuts. So it takes time – 24 hours. And it does best if you have somewhere warmish to put it. The sourdough bugs breed up best in temperatures like a warm summer day, not this cold winter weather.
Step 1: Make a Sponge
Put one cup of sourdough starter in a bowl and stir in a cup of bakers flour. (I use Laucke Wallaby Unbleached Bakers Flour, which I can buy in 5 kg bags at the supermarket).
Cover the bowl with a clean cloth and leave it in a warmish place overnight or for 8 hours or so. We have the slow combustion stove going these days, so my kitchen bench is reasonably warm place. By morning, it should have grown to more than double its original size and be a sticky sponge like the picture.
Step 2: Mix in the fruit and nuts
I like largish chunks of lightly toasted macadamias in this bread. So crack half a cup of macadamia kernels (this is the tool that makes cracking macas a reasonable proposition). Chop them coarsely and dry roast for just a couple of minutes in a dry pan, till they just start to colour.
Tip half a cup of bakers flour on your work surface. Tip the sponge out on top on it. Tip another half a cup of flour on top and flatten it out. Over the sponge, spread:
- Your ½ cup of coarsely chopped lightly toasted macas
- 1 cup of mixed dried fruit. (I used chopped dates, sultanas and currants)
- a teaspoon of salt
- You can also add 1 teaspoon of grated orange rind and ½ teaspoon of mixed spice if you like.
Roll it up and knead briefly until it has incorporated all the flour and the nuts and fruit are mixed through.
Put a good swig of olive oil in a clean bowl and put the dough ball in it, swirling it around to coat. Cover with the clean cloth again and leave it in your warmish spot again for 8 hours or so, until it is doubled in size.
Step 3 – Knock Down the Dough
Tip the dough onto the bench and knead very briefly, just to knock it down and make it into a loaf shape. Put it in an oiled baking tin. Because of all the fruit, a boule is a bit difficult – the outside will tend to burn before the inside is cooked. A fairly long, shallow loaf is easier. I try to poke any sultanas on the outside in as they tend to burn, but this isn’t too crucial. Slash the top with a sharp knife to give it room to rise. Cover with the clean cloth again and leave for 3 to 4 hours.
Step 4 – Bake
The bread will double its size again and it is ready to bake. Because of all the fruit it will tend to burn easily. If you are using a gas or electric oven, you can put it on the second shelf (that is, not right at the top) of a cold oven and turn the oven on to medium. With my wood stove oven, I leave the door open for half an hour to cool it down before putting the bread in. It is done when the crust is nicely brown and it sounds hollow.