In honor of the Jewish holiday “Tu b’shevat’, this week’s project is “Swedish Apricot Walnut Bread”’. But before we run to wear our aprons and work some dough, what is Tu B’shevat?
Tu B’shevat is the new year of the trees, and it is celebrated on a full moon or the fifteenth day of the month of Shevat. The 15th letter in Hebrew is ‘TU’ hence the holiday name. It is a minor festival that has gained importance in the last decade as an environmental holiday. In Israel it is celebrated as the Jewish Arbor Day and reminds us about the return to the land after wandering in the desert for 40 years. God instructed the Jews to revive the land and plant trees, fruits, vegetables, and grain.
The holiday is usually celebrated by eating the fruit of the trees and vines that grow in Israel, such as almonds, apples, apricots, figs, grapes, pistachios, walnuts, raisins, olives and pomegranates. Also, God prohibited Jews from eating the fruit from trees within the first three years after planting. This practice ensures that the trees will mature, bear fruit, and live a long life. As a kid, our school would take us to a bare land, usually around Jerusalem, and we would plant trees. This experience made it very unique to know that I had contributed, in a little way, to my Country (Israel).
When all my Brothers and Sisters would come back home, my Mom would make a plate full of goodies that the land had to offer that year, which would include fresh and dried fruit that are in season. We would also enjoy many types of raw nuts, and we would sit and feast.
This TU B’SHEVT I am happy to offer a new addition to our Family traditional fruit and nut plate.
As I mentioned above, this is a project that took me five days. For a maximum flavor experience, Rose recommends to let the Biga and the Bread dough after prepared to rest for couple of days in the refrigerator.But don’t let the time be a decision factor to ever bake bread. Yeah it does require some time, and yeah there are a few steps, but most of the job is done hands-free…meaning you let the dough rest most of the time, either in the refrigerator or resting to proof. Don’t miss out on the experience of a house filled with a fresh baked deliciousness. So let’s get started, we have a lot to do…
On the first day I made the Biga,using biga make much more flavorful bread with texture, and holes, It also make the bread fresh much longer.this is how’s to:
Prepare water, bread flour, Pumpernickel flour, yeast and salt.
On the fourth day I started with toasting walnuts to add to the dough later :
Once the walnut are ready pour water into the bowl and with a sharp scissor cut the biga into little pieces :
After letting it rest add the raisin and walnut until all incorporated:
Once the dough had rise give it a four sided stretch and fold, than place it again in a lightly oiled container and let it rise overnight in the refrigerator so it look like this:
On the last day I pulled out from the refrigerator the chilled dough, pressed it down and let it rest covered on the counter for an hour:
Then I put the torpedo shaped dough in a pre-heated oven for a total bake time of 40 minutes. Once ready, I removed the bread from the oven and transferred it to a baking sheet to cool down for total of two hours. The hardest part of making the bread is letting it cool down… It takes a lot of patience to look only!
Once the bread was ready to enjoy, this is all that was left after just 10 minutes…
Until next time, let’s have happy baking and a great Holiday!!!