I was very, very recently introduced to this song. I mean, I'd obviously heard it years ago as I did go to see the movie "Cold Mountain"- this song is from the soundtrack. It flew past my radar, though, I'm sorry to say. Very sorry, in fact. Jack White has been the subject of a couple of discussions I've had in the past week - first with some friends of ours and then, again, a few days later, with my oldest daughter, Becca. She was the one who pointed out the connection with the movie and suggested I have a listen. And listen I did! I fell in deep love immediately. I have yet to pinpoint a standout favorite - I love them all. But Great High Mountain is currently hedging out in front by a hair. Please - do yourself a favor and check it out.
Today's post could be called "The Tale of Two Breads."
or, more correct would be "The Snack That Couldn't."
It all started with a trail mix type of snack I picked up from Costco a ways back.
Trail mix always makes me think of hiking - I mean, isn't that what it was made for? Hence the name, TRAIL mix? And hiking makes me think of EXHAUSTION and BUGS and PAIN - all of which have effects that stay with you for days after. No, I'm not really joking. The last hill hike my daughter drug me up I listened to my much-loved Nirvana's Nevermind. I figured the driving beats would push me up the ascent. They did, but angrily as Kurt Cobain screamed in my ear the much-too-late advice of "gotta find a way, a better way" and then bragging that he was "On a Plain" while I was still very much in the climb. I should have been listening to Jack White. Great High Mountain is beautiful and inspiring - motivating, even. He talks of a beautiful fountain of life at the top of a mountain. He talks about taking it step by step - making a parallel between the mountain and life. Beautiful. I'm thinking of seeing if we could add this to our song repertoire at church.
Anyhoo - back to the trail mix.
This particular mix intrigued me with it's addition of black pepper - not to mention the stars - pomegranates and pistachios! The picture on the package was equally alluring and it took less than 10 seconds for the decision to be made and the leap from shelf to cart completed.
Sadly, I wasn't a huge fan. A little too much pepper for my snacking taste. But, here I was with this big bag of mix. I couldn't bring myself to just throw it out and I'm not friends with too many people who are adventurous enough to want to consider black pepper as a snack flavor. So I held onto it, waiting for an idea to pop into my head as to how to use it.
That was the idea. And it was a good one!
I pulled out my bag of pepper-flavored snack mix only to find it was much lighter than I had remembered leaving it. Hmmmm. Was that me or maybe I DO know people who will snack on black pepper snacks! I headed off to Costco to get some more and THEY DIDN'T HAVE IT!!! Is it a seasonal item? Oh dear! What to do?! They did have this, though.
And I thought, "It's basically the same without all the added spices. It also uses cherries and cranberries instead of the pomegranates. And there are walnuts as well." Ok - so it's different! But I was eager to do a comparison. I've been making alot of bread!
The result - they are both wonderful. I do like the flavor of the bread with the black pepper mix slightly better, but, I'd make them both again in a heart beat - providing I find that Sahale mix again!
The cherries and cranberries in the Kirkland brand tend to tint the dough a slight pinkish hue.
I tried waiting and mixing them in until the very end of the kneading process but they still transfer their tinge. It's not a deal breaker, though. The bread is so delicious you won't mind the color!
We learned in school to soak dried fruits as well as seeds and grains before baking with them. It adds moisture which can be taken during the baking process, making them hard and chewy - not a pleasant experience.
I'm thinking you could use just about any trail mix - but I wouldn't soak any bits of chocolate or yogurt chips - pick those out first and set aside until the final mixing.
Nut & Berry Wheat Bread
makes 1 very large loaf or two smaller loaves
2 c. of trail mix
1 c. hot water
1 pkg. yeast (2 1/2 t.)
1 t. sugar
1/4 c. warm water
1 c. hot water
2 c. whole wheat flour (250 g)
1 1/2 t. salt
3 T. vegetable oil
3 T. honey
1 1/2 - 2 c. all-purpose flour (188 - 250 g)
Place the trail mix in a small bowl and pour the 1 c. hot water over and let sit for 1 - 2 hours.
In a large mixer bowl, stir together the 1/4 c. warm water with the yeast and sugar and let set a minute or two, until it starts to get bubbly.
Mix together the wheat flour and salt and add to the yeast mixture in mixer bowl along with the 1 c. hot water. (You can use the water you drain off your trail mix soak. Just add enough extra water to make the 1 cup and heat it.) Fit the mixer with a dough hook and give this mixture a few turns of the hook to start the mix.
Add the vegetable oil and honey, measuring out the oil first as the oil-coating on your spoon will help the honey slide right out after!
Add the white flour, using enough to get the dough to leave the sides of the bowl. Knead on medium high speed for 7 minutes. With about 2 minutes left, add the DRAINED trail mix. Make sure you continue kneading until it is evenly distributed. You may have to add a little extra all-purpose flour if it starts to stick but not much. It will loosen up at first but will tighten back up. The dough is supposed to be slightly tacky.
Place in a greased bowl and turn to coat the surface with the oil. Cover and let rise in a warm place about 45 minutes.
Preheat oven to 350F degrees. Grease one large loaf pan or two smaller loaf pans. Deflate the dough by lifting out of the bowl and shape it into one or two loaves with your hands, being sure to not trap air inside. Place shaped loaf/loaves in the prepared pan and cover and let rise for another 45 minutes until it starts to dome. Bake for 35 - 40 minutes until dark golden brown and it sounds hollow when tapped.
Let cool in pan for about 10 minutes then remove from pan and let cool further on a rack. Slice and enjoy!