Spelt Bread with Walnuts and Figs
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
  • 300ml (or 1¼ cup) water (just above body temperature)
  • ½ teaspoon granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon active-dry yeast
  • 500g (or 4 cups) spelt flour, plus extra for dusting
  • 1½ teaspoon table salt
  • 7 dried figs, chopped
  • 90g (or 1 cup) whole walnuts
  • semolina flour for dusting
  • ice cubes
  1. Pour half the water into a small bowl and stir in the sugar. Sprinkle the yeast in, stir a couple of times and let sit on the countertop for 10 minutes.
  2. NOTE: as you probably know, yeast is a live organism that that needs some love and caring. By pampering it with a nice warm sugar bath, the yeast gets activated and will start to foam and bubble.
  3. In the meantime, stir together the flour and the salt in a large bowl. Make a well in the center of the flour mixture and pour the rest of the water into the well. When the yeast is activated, add the yeast mixture into the well and mix with one hand until a smooth dough forms. You may want to add more water or flour if the dough feels either too dry or too wet. Just don't add too much, as this will affect the bread's texture!
  4. Place the dough on a lightly floured countertop and knead it by stretching it into a long rectangle, pushing away with one hand and stretching down with the other. Roll the rectangle up, turn 90 degrees, turn it seam side up and repeat this step (stretching, rolling and turning) three times until the dough looks smooth.
  5. Using your hands, pat the dough down into a flat rectangle and scatter the walnuts and figs over the dough. Roll the dough like you would a Swiss roll, tucking the filling in as you roll the dough into a log. Turn the dough 90 degrees and seam side up. Again, press the dough into a flat rectangle and roll up. Repeat this process of patting and rolling until the walnuts and figs are showing on the outside of the rolled dough.
  6. Start the first rise of the dough: place the dough in a bowl and cover the bowl with cling film. Leave to rise in a warm, draft-free place for twenty minutes. After twenty minutes, you need to knock back the dough. This means taking it out of the bowl and pushing it around on the countertop with the heel of your hand a couple of times to release air from the dough. This will develop the gluten structure.
  7. This process – letting the dough rise for twenty minutes and knocking it back - needs to be repeated two times. So in total, the dough will rise for sixty minutes and is knocked back three times.
  8. After you’ve knocked the dough back for the third time, you can shape the loaf by stretching it into a long rectangle and rolling it up again. By doing this three times, you will give the dough a uniform structure.
  9. For the final rise, dust a clean chopping board with semolina flour and place the dough, seam side down, on top. Place the board (with the dough) inside a clean, large plastic bag and make an airtight enclosure by tucking the open end of the bag under the board. Place the entire thing in a warm, draft-free place for one hour, until the dough has doubled in size.
  10. In the meantime, preheat your oven to 250°C/480°F (standard oven setting). Place a baking stone or a baking sheet in the oven while it preheats and place a baking tray underneath the stone/sheet.
  11. Once the dough has risen, take the baking stone or the baking sheet out of the oven, sprinkle it with semolina flour and carefully place the dough on top of it. Place the stone/sheet back into the oven and throw a few ice cubes into the baking tray to create steam (crust-enhancing!). Quickly close the oven door and turn the oven down to 200°C/390°F. Bake for 25 minutes.
  12. After 25 minutes, set the oven door ajar with a wooden spoon and bake for another five minutes in order to let the steam escape and the bread to form a nice crust. You know the bread is done when it sounds hollow when tapped with a wooden spoon. Take the bread out of the oven and leave it to cool on a wire rack.
Recipe by The Tough Cookie at https://thetoughcookie.com/2013/04/04/spelt-bread-with-walnuts-and-figs/