Week Twenty-Three: Breads With Fruit
I wasn’t kidding yesterday, when I mentioned making a sourdough bread with mangoes. I recently stumbled across this recipe on the King Arthur Flour website, and I just had to try it. The original didn’t call for any sourdough starter (or honey, for that matter), but the idea of a tangy sourdough with the sticky sweetness of mango sounded so delicious, I couldn’t resist throwing some starter in. (Plus, I’ve actually kept this starter alive since March!, so of course I need to use it here and there.)
This bread is unusual in that the bulk of the liquid is solely from puréed fruit. This wouldn’t be strange for a quick bread, but for yeast bread, the liquid is normally from water, or maybe some milk. There’s no water added here, just a lot of mango. And if you’ve ever had a mango, you know that its a very fibrous, pulpy fruit. All that pulp gets in the way of the gluten formation, so there’s a little help in the form of vital wheat gluten added in.
Vital wheat gluten is actually just regular wheat flour, with most of the carbohydrates washed out, leaving mainly the proteins that form gluten. Adding it in helps the bread better trap the gases given off by the yeast, gives a stronger structure, and creates a better texture when the loaf is fully baked. You can bake this bread without it, but it’s good in this case to have that extra helping hand.
And man, does it work! I was a little worried, what with all that pulp to disrupt the gluten, but I shouldn’t have been. The texture of this bread is wonderfully fluffy, like a proper sandwich bread. The crust turned out a bit hard at first, but softened upon standing, and browned deeply because of the sugar from the mango and honey. The crumb was nice and even, and cut beautifully into pretty mustard-yellow slices. The beachy flavor of mango was set off with a slight bit of cinnamon in the dough, and was made lily-gildingly good with the honey. Strangely, though I could taste all those flavors, the combination reminded me of nothing so much as a brioche.
I decided to bake this bread in a loaf pan not just because the dough is a little slack, but because I could imagine so many interesting sandwiches using it! Maybe that sounds strange to you, but one of my favorite sandwich loaves is loaded with Sriracha, that über-hot sauce of Southeast Asia. An unusual bread just makes the whole sandwich that much more interesting.
So what could you serve on this bread? A simple turkey or ham and cheese would be good; but if you’re adventurous, try ham with orange marmalade and sliced red onion. Or what about grilled pineapple slices with mounds of prosciutto? If you need an hors d’oeuvre, try giving a nod to the recent French obsession with mangoes, and top mango bread canapés with some quality store-bought pâté; or even simply top with guacamole (avocadoes and mangoes are quite good friends!). And some people do enjoy the taste of mangoes with chocolate (to each his own), so a toasted slice with Nutella might not be out of the question, either!
Mango Honey Bread
Adapted From King Arthur Flour
Makes 1 loaf
4 1/2 ounces (about 1 cup) white whole wheat flour
6 ounces (about 2 1/2) cups unbleached bread flour, divided
1 1/2 tablespoons vital wheat gluten
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 1/2 teaspoons regular instant yeast
1 1/4 cups puréed mango (see note 1 below)
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
2 tablespoons honey
1/2 cup sourdough starter (optional, see note 2 below)
1. In the bowl of a stand mixer, whisk together the all-purpose flour, 5 ounces of the bread flour, the vital wheat gluten, salt, and cinnamon. Add the yeast, and whisk to combine. Add the puréed mango, the butter, honey, and starter.
2. Using the dough hook, mix at low speed until the dough comes together, scraping the bowl if necessary, about 1 to 2 minutes. Increase the speed to medium and knead until the dough forms a cohesive ball and pulls away from the sides of the bowl, about 7 to 8 minutes. Add the reserved bread flour by tablespoons if needed to achieve the proper consistency. This may seem too fast or rough, but it’s needed to develop the gluten. The dough should be a little slack and sticky, but not too wet, and will not be perfectly smooth.
3. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Knead a few times, and form into a round ball with a skin stretched around the outside. Transfer round, smooth side up, to a lightly oiled bowl. Cover loosely with lightly-oiled plastic wrap, and let rise in a warm place until doubled in size, about 1 hour. Or, preferably, refrigerate for 8 hours or overnight.
4. If refrigerated, let dough come to room temperature for 45 to 60 minutes before proceeding. Lightly oil a 9 x 5 loaf pan. Punch the dough down, and turn out onto a lightly floured surface. Shape into an oblong loaf, and place in the prepared pan. Cover again with plastic wrap, and let rest until doubled in size, about 1 hour. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 375° F.
5. Using a sharp serrated knife, make one quick slash down the length of the bread. Bake the bread at 375° F for 30 to 40 minutes, or until golden brown and baked through, and an instant-read thermometer registers 200° F when inserted into the center. Remove from pan, and transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
1. One large mango, peeled and puréed in a food processor or blender, will produce about the right amount of purée. If yours produces less, you can top off the amount with some applesauce or a smashed, ripe banana.
2. If you don’t have a sourdough starter going, you can mix together 1/4 cup each of bread flour and water, with a pinch of yeast. Let it stand, covered, at room temperature for 12 to 24 hours. After that time, the starter can be refrigerated for up to a week. If you don’t have time for any of that, though, you can simply omit the starter.