Saturday, June 26, 2010

BBB Korni Bread - soy free version

Well, after trying this month's bread challenge from the BBB, I had to go out and get a copy of the cookbook!  And I was lucky to find a great condition hardbound copy of The Village Baker by Joe Ortiz for pretty cheap.  I did have to tweak the ingredients just a bit because my daughter is allergic to soy, but that was an easy substitution for this wonderful recipe.  It's an easy dough that produces a delightfully crunchy and complex, yet not too heavy loaf.  (What I would have disdained as the "birdseed bread" that my mother loved when I was growing up.)  I suppose with her good example it is not surprising that I learned to appreciate and prize loaves like that.  If you wish to try the original recipe with the soy nuts, check out the original post at Notitie van Lien.  I used chopped Crispy Almonds instead and it turned out fabulous.  I wanted a high protein nut with good texture to approximate the protein and texture of the soy nuts.  Almonds were the way to go.  You can make them yourself or you might find them at the healthfood store as "Sprouted Almonds".  I'm sure toasted almonds would work just as well too.
Update: Once again, found out that this qualifies for BBD #31,  "Breads with Nuts"  Cool!

(makes one round 3½ pound loaf or two smaller rounds)

Soy bean mixture :
½ cup Crispy Almonds, chopped (almonds that have been soaked and then dehydrated until delightfully crispy)

Poolish :
1 package (2 ½ teaspoons; ¼ oz) active dry yeast (1½ tsp is more than sufficient)
2 ½ cups warm water
1 cup organic rye flour
1 cup organic whole wheat flour
1 ½ cups organic unbleached white (or all-purpose) flour

Dough :
1 teaspoon active dry yeast
¼ cup warm water
All of the starter from the previous step
3 cups organic, unbleached white (or all-purpose) flour
1 tablespoon sea salt
1 tablespoon ground caraway seeds (I love caraway and left mine practically whole)
¼ cup organic flax seeds
½ cup organic millet
All of the soy mixture Crispy Almonds

Glaze: 1 whole egg whisked with 1 tablespoon milk

Prepare the sponge/poolish:

First proof the yeast, in a large bowl, in 1 cup of the warm water. (I use instant yeast which does not require proofing).  When it is creamy, mix in 1½ cups warm water and slowly add the rye flour, whole wheat flour, and 1½ cups of white flour by handfuls while stirring the mixture with a wooden spoon.  Set the batter aside, in a large bowl, covered with a dish towel, for between 8 and 10 hours or overnight.

Make the dough:

Proof the yeast in the warm water, add it to the risen sponge, and mix the two together. Start adding the flour, handful by handful, stirring vigorously with a wooden spoon. After all but 1 cup of the flour has been added (this will take about 10 minutes), turn the dough out onto your worktable, sprinkle the salt and the ground caraway over the dough, and incorporate them by kneading the dough for about 5 minutes while adding the last of the flour. The dough should be very moist.

Add the flax seeds, millet, and roasted soy beans crispy almonds and knead the dough to incorporate them.

Set the dough aside, covered, to rise for 1 hour, until it has doubled in size.

Flatten out the dough again and then shape it into a round loaf. This loaf is best proofed in a canvas-lined basket and then baked on a baking stone in the oven. It can also be placed on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Let the loaf rise for about 1 1/2 hours.

Glaze the loaf with the egg and milk mixture and bake it in a preheated 425°F oven for between 30 and 35 minutes.

(source: "The Village Baker" -Joe Ortiz)

I've got to admit that though I'm normally too uh, well... lazy to deal with a glaze, I took the time with this loaf and it does produce beautiful results.

I'll send this one over to Susan for YeastSpotting.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Roast Chicken Win!

However inelegant the picture may be, this chicken was "super, completely and totally"  fabulous!  For such a basic dish, this one seems to scare some people.  Or was it just me?  I must say, the last time I tried a roast chicken it came out bland and undercooked.  I think I ended up nuking the pieces we wanted to eat and I don't remember what became of the carcass.  It was a colossal waste of a good chicken.  This time was a complete 180º from that.  Succulently moist, tender and wonderfully flavorful.  I will never fear roast chicken again.  And there is a wonderful pot of stock brewing in the crockpot from the picked carcass. 

Look for deals on close to date whole free range chickens to get the most bang for your buck.  This chicken was $5 on sale but needed to be used or frozen by the next day.  I have been trying to use more whole chickens of late since they are SIGNIFICANTLY CHEAPER than the value added packages of boneless skinless what-have-you.  Less processing means better quality really, since you know there have been less opportunities for contamination.  Not to mention it's all the same bird.  Now when it comes to preparing the bird, there are various ways of trussing, trimming and filling, but that is completely at your discretion.  I didn't feel the need to truss the whole bird, though it does make a prettier package.  For the most part this recipe is taken from Tyler Florence and bless his heart because some of his other recipes have been amazing wins for me as well.  This one, well, my hubby is usually just a white meat breast man.  This time, he went back and grabbed more for seconds even after the breasts were gone.  And he loved the skin, which is not something we used to eat.  When it came came out of the oven, my daughter said, "Mommy, that looks awesome!"  It smelled divine too.  More importantly, everyone chowed down on it and asked for seconds.  Seconds is definitely a win in this family.

Ultimate Roast Chicken

1 (5 ½ pound) free-range chicken
½ bunch each fresh oregano, lemon thyme, and parsley (it's okay to use dried or part dried - use half as much dried as you would fresh.)
1 stick butter (¼ lb), softened
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 small orange, halved
½ head garlic (I used ¾ head sliced in half)
1 medium onion, quartered (I used ½ a large red I had on hand)
6 strips thick, good bacon

Preheat oven to 425ºF.

Rinse the chicken with cool water, inside and out, and pat dry with paper towels.  Season the inside with salt and pepper.  Divide the herbs, keeping ½ of them whole.  Finely chop the other half and mash in a small bowl with the softened butter until combined.  Loosen the skin with your fingers and rub or pat the herbed butter under the skin, as well as all over the outside of the chicken.  (To get to the thighs, go in from the back skin.)  Season the bird all over with salt and pepper.  Stuff the cavity with the orange, garlic, onion, and the remaining herbs.  Depending on the size of your bird, you may not be able to fit it all in; don't overstuff it or it will take too long to cook.  Tie the legs together with kitchen twine to help hold its shape.  Place the chicken, breast-side up, in a roasting pan.  Lay the strips of bacon across the breast of the chicken and roast for 30 minutes.

Remove the bacon and baste the chicken with the drippings and cook for another 30 minutes to brown the skin. (You can finish frying up the bacon for an appetizer to appease the clamoring kids.)  The chicken is done when an instant-read thermometer reads 165ºF when inserted into the thickest part of the thigh (the legs of the chicken should wiggle easily from the sockets too.)  Remove the chicken to a platter and let stand for 10 minutes, so the juices settle back into the meat before carving.  And yes, the rest time makes a difference - it will give you more moist juicy chicken.  (If you find that the chicken is not quite done in the middle, I recommend removing the aromatics and finishing that way.  It will get done quicker and you won't have to worry about over-browning the skin.  Another reason not to overstuff the bird.)

Optional cool way to serve: carve the chicken tableside and squeeze the oranges from the cavity over the meat.

After this success, I'll be on the lookout for good deals on good local free range chicken.  This will go into regular rotation on the dinner circuit.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Sourdough French Bread with unfed starter

Sometimes there is a demand, (Mommy, I want sourdough bread!), for sourdough, and not the time to make it properly.  Sometimes the state of the economy makes you loathe to throw your starter discard down the sink!!  Flour ain't exactly as cheap as it used to be...  So with all the chowder I have been making lately, I needed some nice soup sopping bread.  It's nearly impossible for me to find a storebought bread that will not affect my daughter's allergies and homemade is just so good and fresh anyway.  Sourdough is hands down her favorite bread and perfect for accompanying soup. 

Normally I use my starter a couple times per week and make sure it is good and happy before I put it back in the fridge.  This last time though, it had been well over a week since the last use and the starter was looking pretty sluggish.  It didn't have a large layer of hooch over it yet, but it was just starting to collect around the bubble mounds.  That and the starter was all soupy, like it gets when you neglect to feed it for a week... or more... Still, we had need of bread, just time to do a fairly standard loaf, and a "request" for sourdough.  So I figured I would try my neglected, unfed starter with the added yeast method. 

I very rarely use all white flour anymore but in this case I decided to give the starter all the help I could.  Thus came about a very successful french/sourdough batard made with unfed starter.  (When I say french sourdough, I mean a cross between french bread and sourdough bread.)  My starter is quite tart even when unfed so I ended up with a very happy, crispy/chewy crusted loaf with a wonderfully soft and chewy interior that did have a good hint of sourness to it.  It was great with soup and it would make great sandwiches too.  This will definitely go in my regular rotation for using up sleepy starter.  There will be no problem getting it eaten!  (If I had time and wanted to perk up the sourness, I would just combine the starter, water and half the flour or so an hour or two prior to starting the dough; in essence a prefeeding.)  Today I am making this loaf with part white whole wheat because the starter has been fed fairly recently and is quite happy despite living in the fridge.  (It is taking a tablespoon extra water for the whole wheat flour and perkier starter.)

Sourdough French Bread with Unfed Starter

½ cup (4 ¼ oz) (120.5g) sourdough starter, fed or unfed
¾ cup (6 oz) (170g) lukewarm water
1¼ tsp (7g) sea salt
1 ¼ (5.25g) tsp sugar
1 tsp (3.15g)  Instant Yeast
2 ½ cups (300g) all purpose flour

Combine all ingredients.  Knead to form a smooth, soft dough.  Add a bit more flour if needed, (older, "soupy" starter may require a couple extra tablespoons of flour).  Place dough in a greased bowl, cover and let rise until until doubled, around 90 minutes.  Shape into an oval or oblong loaf.  Place on a lightly greased baking sheet or a parchment lined peel.  Cover and let rise until quite puffy.  Around 60 minutes depending on the temperature of your kitchen.  Slash the tops and place in a preheated 425º oven for 25 minutes or until golden brown.  To get a nice crispy crust, spritz some water in the oven right when you put in your loaf.  You can just toss in a few tablespoons of water if you don't have a spritzer handy, just be careful of your oven window, wouldn't want to crack it!  Remove the loaf from the oven and cool on a rack as long as you can stand it.  (Bread cuts better when it is cool, but everyone knows fresh bread hot out of the oven can't be beat.)

This post will go to Yeastspotting.

adapted from King Arthur

Thursday, June 10, 2010

When the weather won't mind, make chowder.

I don't know about you, but I'm getting tired of having three to four seasons packed into one day.  If I put on a sweater and jeans in the morning, I really don't want to have to change to a tank top and shorts in five hours.  (I'd rather just be in the shorts from the get go!)  We're already above twice the normal rainfall with new records set in the first week of the month alone.  And it's June for Pete's sake, we should be beyond 25º variances in temperature!  This is cold and wet even for Seattle.  The one comfort I have in this weather is that it is great for chowder.  Of course here around Puget Sound, you don't really need an excuse for chowder.  I've had it about six times in the past week alone.  Tells you how good the weather has been.

This is one soup that my eldest will just dig into without picking apart the ingredients, which is saying a lot.  Even with homemade chicken noodle soup, which she loves, she will eat it one ingredient at a time.  She's a food purist or something.  (I think she gets it from Grandma, shhhhhhhh.)  We're working slowly on getting her to accept hodgepodge foods like casserole or things that have sauces all over them.  This is really good with fresh sourdough or french bread.  And my daughter can eat a whole loaf of sourdough by herself.  So this has been a favorite meal of late.

Oregon Coast Clam Chowder
Serves 4-6

½ pound lean bacon, drippings reserved
1 tbsp olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
4-5 large ribs celery, chopped
1 (14.5 oz) can sliced stewed or diced tomatoes
3 potatoes, cubed  (1 large russet and 2 large reds is what I use - smaller dice will cook faster)
1 (8 oz) can tomato sauce (I like the basil, garlic, oregano but plain is fine too)
7 splashes tabasco (maybe ½ - ¾ tsp or to taste)
8 oz bottle clam juice
½ tsp sea salt
2 cans (6.5 oz each) chopped clams, undrained  (or about 7 fresh or frozen chopped razor clams, if you've been out digging)
½ - 1 cup heavy cream
lemon pepper to taste

Chop the bacon and saute in a dutch oven/soup pot until crisp.  Drain and set aside, reserving 1 tbsp of the drippings.  (I admit that I tend to use a bit more than just the 1 tbsp.)  Add the olive oil and the reserved drippings back to the pot and saute the chopped onion and celery until crisp tender.

Add water just to cover and simmer on low for 30 minutes.  Add the diced tomatoes, tomato sauce and tabasco and simmer while dicing and adding the potatoes.  Add the clam juice and simmer until potatoes are tender, adding water if necessary.  (The spuds will cook faster with more water.)

Next add the clams with their juice and the bacon.  Cook on medium low for 10 minutes.  Last add the heavy cream.  Depending on how much water you add, you may wish to use more or less.  You are welcome to use part milk and some instant potato flakes or starch for added thickening if you choose.  My mom always used potato buds to thicken the chowder when I was growing up.  Season to taste with pepper or lemon pepper.  (Don't let it boil after you add the cream, or it may assume a curdled appearance.)  As with many soups, this is even better on the second day.  It never lasts longer than that here but mom says it freezes for a while as well.

Enjoy it with a nice fresh loaf of bread, good for soup sopping.  I love to make a "french sourdough".  I can use unfed starter and still end up with a beautiful, slightly tangy loaf with a nice chewy texture and crispy crust.  Hmm, maybe I'll post that one next...

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

The keeper cake

Well there it is:  my daughter's birthday cake.  I'm not all that artistically inclined but I am pleased as punch at how it turned out.  And so was my daughter and that is all that really matters.  Well, that and it needed to taste good, which it did.  I love the cake recipe from Cook's illustrated.  Just like a bakery cake only I know the ingredient list is infinitely shorter.  It turned out a light and fluffy, yet velvety texture that is solid enough to hold up to stacking or sculpting if that floats your boat.  You can see the body of the butterfly is made from a twinkie.  Of course I had to make those from scratch too; my daughter could never have a real twinkie unless I wanted to deal with allergy reaction for three solid days.  I used a partial batch of King Arthur's twinkie recipe and was quite satisfied with it.  One of these days I may try the cooked filling recipe they have as well.

As it happened, I made homemade corn free marshmallow fluff for the filling.  Homemade fluff is sublime, let me tell you.  I made it because I thought the cream filling recipe that came with the twinkie pan sounded right and it called for fluff.  It didn't turn out quite as I liked though and I think the fluff would have been just perfect unadulterated.  If there is a next time I will do that.  The leftover fluff didn't last too long between the two girls.  And, uh, me.  (Marshmallow fluff was a rare treat as a child.  I didn't have my first fluffernutter until college.)

So with a cake I was finally happy with, there was nothing left but to choose how to decorate it.  With some gentle direction, my daughter chose the butterfly cake instead of the giant princess castle.  I'm just not up to castles yet.  Sorry kiddo.  I had already fallen in love with the super easy vanilla bean buttercream I made for the family cake trial, so I made a double batch of that.  Not really necessary as it turns out and now I have a bowl of leftover temptation in the fridge that really needs to disappear into the freezer.  The stuff is just so darned good!  It stays soft too, doesn't get that frosting crust, even after being out in the air a great while.  Of course that means you need to be very careful if transporting the cake.  I refrigerated mine to firm up the icing while driving to the party location.

Fluffy Yellow Layer Cake
(Source: Cook’s Illustrated, March 2008 issue)

Nonstick cooking spray can be used for greasing the pans (proceed with flouring as directed). Bring all ingredients to room temperature before beginning.

Makes two 9-inch cake layers

2 ½ cups cake flour , plus extra for dusting pans
1 ¼ teaspoons starch free baking powder
¼ teaspoon baking soda
¾ teaspoon table salt
1 ¾ cups sugar, divided
10 tablespoons (1 ¼ sticks) unsalted butter , melted and cooled slightly
1 cup buttermilk , room temperature
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
6 large egg yolks, room temperature
3 large egg whites, room temperature

1. Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 350º. Grease two 9-Inch round cake pans  and line bottoms with parchment paper. Grease paper rounds, dust pans with flour, and knock out excess. Whisk flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and 1 ½ cups sugar together in large bowl. In 4-cup liquid measuring cup or medium bowl, whisk together melted butter, buttermilk, oil, vanilla, and yolks.

2. In clean bowl of stand mixer fitted with whisk attachment, beat egg whites at medium-high speed until foamy, about 30 seconds. With machine running, gradually add remaining ¼ cup sugar; continue to beat until stiff peaks just form, 30 to 60 seconds (whites should hold peak but mixture should appear moist). Transfer to bowl and set aside.

3. Add flour mixture to now-empty mixing bowl fitted with whisk attachment. With mixer running at low speed, gradually pour in butter mixture and mix until almost incorporated (a few streaks of dry flour will remain), about 15 seconds. Stop mixer and scrape whisk and sides of bowl. Return mixer to medium-low speed and beat until smooth and fully incorporated, 10 to 15 seconds.

4. Using rubber spatula, stir 1/3 of whites into batter to lighten, then add remaining whites and gently fold into batter until no white streaks remain. Divide batter evenly between prepared cake pans. Lightly tap pans against counter 2 or 3 times to dislodge any large air bubbles.

5. Bake until cake layers begin to pull away from sides of pans and toothpick inserted into center comes out clean, 20 to 22 minutes. Cool cakes in pans on wire rack for 10 minutes. Loosen cakes from sides of pans with small knife, then invert onto greased wire rack and peel off parchment. Invert cakes again and cool completely on rack, about 1 ½ hours.

Here's a shot of the crumb, it really was great. This is the one for any yellow cake I will make in the future. And it lasted really well too. It tasted just as nice and moist when the last piece was eaten four days after being baked. That's pretty good in my opinion!

Easy Vanilla Bean Buttercream
Yield: 3 cups

2½ sticks unsalted butter, softened
1 vanilla bean, halved lengthwise
2½ cups confectioners’ sugar (10 oz)
Pinch salt (omit if using salted butter)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 Tablespoons heavy cream

1. In a standing mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat the butter at medium-high speed until smooth, about 20 seconds. Using a paring knife, scrape seeds from vanilla bean into butter and beat mixture at medium-high speed to combine, about 15 seconds.
2. Add confectioners’ sugar and salt; beat at medium-low speed until most of the sugar is moistened, about 1 minute. Scrape down the bowl and beat at medium speed until mixture is fully incorporated, about 30 seconds; scrape bowl, add vanilla and heavy cream, and beat at medium speed until incorporated, about 20 seconds, then increase speed to medium-high and beat until light and fluffy, about 4 minutes, scraping down bowl once or twice.
(From Cook’s Illustrated)

If you don't want to invest in the vanilla bean, and I do know they are expensive, you can increase the vanilla extract to 1 tbsp.  It looks really nice though and this is a wonderfully flavored, melt on the tongue frosting.  Oh yes, I was also very pleased with the Hershey's Perfectly Chocolate Chocolate Frosting that I used for the butterfly body and piping and lettering on the extra cake.

I also ended up making three batches of corn free marshmallows for the party: vanilla, strawberry and honey lemon cardamom.  The strawberry ones were amazing, like a marriage of a really good homemade jam and a marshmallow.  The standard vanilla are always great and the honey lemon, well they were in a class by themselves.  It's unexpected to get a super tart sweet hit in a marshmallow.  Like eating a lemon meringue pie condensed into marshmallow form.  I may have to post that one later.  The girls love it.  The wonderful thing is, homemade marshmallows FREEZE beautifully.  Just be sure there is enough coating on them or they may get sticky with repeated thawing.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

KA Zebra cake review - looks great, less flavor...

I admit it.  I decided to try the King Arthur Zebra cake for my daughter's birthday cake mostly because it looked impressive.  That's how mine turned out above.  (Sorry about the smudge - little girl fingers seem to find their way to the camera lens quite often.)  And here's how the KA picture looks:

They got more stripes and loft than I did, but I wanted my vanilla stripes to be more prominant anyway so I changed the ratio of layering.  I think it looks pretty cool even so.  We had a little family birthday and her larger party for friends was four days later.  So I tried out the zebra cake on ours and let her decorate it as she pleased.  I think she liked that more than anything.  Glad I tried it out on us first though.  Let me tell you one little thing about the recipe.  Twice the wet ingredients to dry ingredients ratio.  Apparently necessary to obtain the cool stripey effect.  The batter must be quite thin.  Do you see how shiny the cake looks on my picture?  Well, it pretty much tasted that shiny too.  A cup of oil, cup of milk and 4 eggs with only two cups of flour makes for a fairly dense cake.  It was also lacking in flavor, even though I used coconut oil and that flavor came through.  I also added a couple drops of buttery sweet dough flavor and used the special double dutch dark cocoa for the chocolate.  No dice.  It would remain a bland cake.  Fortunately, the ethereal buttercream I used, (thank you Cook's Illustrated!), was enough to carry the cake as long as the pieces were small.  Maybe coconut oil is part of the reason it was so dense but I know other reviewers have been put off by the oily, heavy texture.  It is possible using part melted butter might help boost the flavor but I will leave that experiment to others.  For textural reasons alone, I will not be coming back to this one.  Sorry King Arthur, it's one of the few that haven't made the cut for me.  I ended up using a Fluffy Yellow Cake recipe (also from Cook's illustrated) for the party and it turned out FABULOUS.  It will be my go to yellow cake recipe from now on.  I'll post those results later, along with how to make way too much stuff for a six year old's party. 

Monday, June 7, 2010

Apple cinnamon oatmeal... not in a bowl

If you like apple cinnamon oatmeal but usually need something more portable or don't want to settle for those nutritionally challenged little packets of mush; this is the bread for you.  I originally tried out this bread simply to use up some steel oats I had sitting around and ended up loving it.  The kitchen smelled like apple pie and cinnamon oatmeal all day, it was fabulous!  The bread is wonderfully chewy and tangy, almost like a sourdough, and makes great toast for breakfast.  While it is very good with the special ingredient, boiled cider, you can also use apple juice concentrate instead.  The cider is nice and tart and I suspect the bread would be a skosh sweeter using the AJ concentrate.  Maybe not quite as strong a flavor but still good.  You could always try reducing it carefully in a saucepan first.  I love boiled cider - I add a tbsp or two to my apple pies and they finally taste like mom's!  I get mine from King Arthur and it lasts practically forever in the fridge.  It is also available from Wood's Cider Mill products, the manufacturer.  (They also have a cinnamon cider syrup that looks like it would be fabulous over pancakes!)  I used dried apples from our local fruit market that were actually still pretty plump for dehydrated, so the bread dough was practically bursting from all the fat apple bits.  Next time I might try home dried for an unsulphured option with a little lower water activity.  This was a very happy dough and rose more quickly than I expected.  It also spread a bit, so be careful on the shaping if you want a piece that will easily fit in a toaster.  If you use a toaster oven, you're golden.    There is no added sugar in this recipe except for the optional topping and the natural fruit sugar in the cider so if you are concerned about refined sugar, this is a great treat.  Don't tell, but I think I finished ¾ of the loaf myself over the week.  It keeps very well and the tiny bit of crunchy sweetness from the sprinkle of turbinado is a great complement to the tangy chewiness of the bread.  Enjoy it slathered with good butter (pastured if you can get it - amazing flavor!).  Don't kill it with margarine or spread, that stuff's not good for you anyway.  ☺  One helpful tip, if you happen to have one of those veggie choppers, like the chop wizard or the generic onion chopper, it works great for dicing the dried apples and toasted pecans.  I'm so pitiful at knife chopping...  Just close the lid with slow, firm pressure so you don't break it.

Apple Cinnamon Oat Bread

½ cup steel-cut oats (Irish oatmeal)
1 ¾ cups (14 ounces) boiling water
¼ cup (2 oz) boiled cider or frozen apple juice concentrate, divided
1 cup (3 oz) chopped dried apples
1 ½ tsp sea salt
1 tsp cinnamon
2 tsp Instant Yeast
1 ¾ cups white whole wheat flour
1 ¾ cups all-purpose flour
¼ cup Baker's Special Dry Milk or nonfat dry milk
2 tbsp vital wheat gluten
1 cup (3 ¾ oz) chopped, toasted pecans or walnuts
1-2 tbsp turbinado or coarse raw sugar, optional

Combine the boiling water, 2 tbsp of the boiled cider and the steel-cut oats, and set aside to cool to lukewarm.  Combine the remaining 2 tbsp boiled cider with the apple pieces, cover, and microwave for 1 to 2 minutes; this will help the apples absorb the cider. (I skipped this step, but remember, my apples weren't incredibly dry.)  Set the apples aside.

Add the remaining ingredients to the oat mixture, and stir and knead to make a soft, slightly sticky dough. Knead in the toasted nuts and apples.  This is really sticky, so a machine would be helpful for this step.  Place the dough in a greased bowl, cover, and let rise for about 2 hours.  (Mine was ready in only 1 hour.)

Flatten the dough into an oval on a lightly greased or floured work surface.  Place into a stoneware baker, or onto a lightly greased or parchment-lined baking sheet. Cover the loaf and let it rise for 1 hour, or until it looks puffy.  Just before baking sprinkle with the turbinado if desired.

Bake according to stoneware baker directions; if you're using a baking sheet, bake at 375°F for 45 to 50 minutes, until the bread is deep brown and its interior measures about 195°F on an instant-read thermometer. Remove from the oven, and cool completely before cutting.

Yield: 1 large loaf.
adapted from King Arthur