Sunday, April 18, 2010

Modern Baker: Fennel Fig & Almond Bread

This was my first Modern Baker Challenge recipe!  It was very exciting. I was so excited to break out my brand new loaf pans too. The author stated clearly that we should really use the appropriate pan for each bread. Honestly, I didn't think there's much difference between a 9x5 pan and a 8 1/2x4 1/2 pan, but since I'm new to this I decided to follow the rules and got one of each. I also found about 100 other things I want at the kitchen store too. I used to be able to walk right by all that stuff and now I'm a total kitchen gadget person.
I have not made a lot of bread in my life, so I was very excited to give this recipe a try. In the Bread Baker's Apprentice Challenge I will tackle yeast breads, but these quick breads do not use yeast and are pretty basic and simple to make- even more a novice like me.
 The first task was grinding the fennel seeds. I do not own a mortar and pestle- yet- so I borrowed one. I ground for awhile, but that's hard work! About half way through I broke out my Pampered Chef chopper and really went at them with it. The author suggests using a heavy saucepan on a baking sheet to crush them. That still sounds like a lot of work to me. I loved how the whole house smelled like licorice!
I really like figs. I've always been a huge fan of fig newtons (the cookie). I like their flavor and that they're not as sweet as raisins. I am a fan of raisins, but I don't like raisins in anything. I hate raisins in bread and cookies. I think now I have to add figs to that list too. I nibbled on them as I chopped and loved them. The minute I tasted them in the bread, I didn't like them in it. I know it's odd, but that's me.
I did like the flavor of the bread as I ate around the figs. I could see doing the bread sans the figs. The bread was a big hit in the house. I do like cranberries in things, maybe I could try those in the bread. What else could I substitute? I'll have to give that some thought.
This was a fantastic first challenge experience and I can't wait to tackle more. I know there are others that call for raisins, so I'll have to figure out a substitution, or just make the bread for my father in law who I know likes raisins in things.

Note: As a courtesy to the author our group has agreed not to produce the recipes for this challenge. If you like the results and want the recipes please buy the book and feel free to join us in baking!


  1. Your bread looks wonderful...inside and out! I had a heck of a time with those fennel seeds...I think it took me longer to get those crushed than the whole thing, including baking time. Well, maybe not, but it seemed like it. I printed off a pan size conversion chart from somewhere on line and I use that if I want to substitute pan sizes...I have been baking the last two breads mini size with half the recipe as that just seems to go over better here (teenage boys love portable food so they can grab one and count it as two muffin size) as I am in several groups and end up with a lot of variety that way. I have been very pleased with the way the recipes turn out so far! Yours look wonderful.

  2. Kayte- I'm impressed with your determination to stick with the grinding of the fennel. I got quite annoyed when they didn't crush easily. If my Pampered chef chopper hadn't worked, I was planning to bring out the food processor and try that. I think I need to learn more patience in the kitchen.

  3. I also got annoyed with the fennel seeds. This bread was NOT a big hit in our house, my son (age 4) said it tasted like "sick tea" - here (Germany) you give fennel tea to kids when they have digestive problems. I thought it was ok, but I won't make it again.


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