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Aunt Judy's Fennel & Fig Bread

(makes2 - 12 inch long loaves)

1-1/4 cups warm water (105-115 degrees F)
1 TBSP sugar
1 pkg. dry yeast (2-1/4 tsps.)
3 cups bread flour (I use 1 cup wheat flour)
1 8-oz. package dried Calimyrna figs, chopped (about 1-1/2 cups)
(I use whatever dried figs I can find)

1 cup rye flour
2 TBSP fennel seeds
1 TBSP salt

Mix 1-1/4 cups warm water, sugar and yeast in small bowl. Let stand until mixture bubbles, about 10 minutes. Combine bread flour, 3/4 cup figs, rye flour, fennel seeds and salt in large bowl of heavy-duty mixer fitted with paddle attachment. Mix using lowest speed; gradually add yeast mixture, mixing until all flour has been incorporated (or to mix by hand, stir vigorously with wooden spoon until dough comes together). Replace paddle with dough hook and knead until smooth and elastic (or to knead by hand, transfer dough to
floured work surface and knead until smooth and elastic, about 5 minutes). Place dough in oiled bowl; turn to coat. Cover with plastic wrap, then kitchen towel and let dough rise in warm draft-free area
until doubles in volume, about 1 hour.

Turn dough out onto work surface and knead gently until deflated. Knead in remaining 3/4 cup figs. Cut dough in half; shape each piece into 12-inch long loaf. Brush rimmed baking sheet with oil; transfer
loaves to sheet, spacing apart. Cover with plastic wrap, then kitchen towel; let rise in warm draft-free area until almost doubled involume, about 35 minutes (always takes me longer).

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Bake bread until crust is golden and loaves sound hollow when tapped (original recipe says for 45 minutes but then you have charcoal, so I start checking at 20-30 minutes).
Cool bread on rack.

**I have done this in my bread machine on the dough setting and
finish it by hand, ie knead remaining figs in and bake in oven, with good results. The loaves are dense.. The recipe recommends to serve with butter or cheeses. I like cream cheese on mine - non-fat, of course!!
Always get rave reviews on this. It is not sweet and is healthy!!


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