I think I may have found a new favourite bread; this muesli bread is hearty, satisfying, delicious and it's healthy! It is also a great way to use up some of that half eaten packet of muesli forgotten about at the back of the cupboard for 6+ months... (just me?). It stays soft for a good few days in a airtight container and makes fantastic toast; I've been enjoying it for breakfast slathered with butter and jam. The flavour is slightly sweet from the dried fruit and a little maple syrup and there's a hint of warm cinnamon. Because it is full of oats, fruit and nuts it is very filling, so it makes a great breakfast or snack.
Muesli bread is very simple to make, you just soak some muesli in a little milk (I just used a basic muesli, which was a mix of oats, wheat flakes, flame raisins, sultanas, hazelnuts and almonds) then mix it in to a fairly standard bread dough (with some desiccated coconut, cinnamon and maple syrup for good measure) . Once it has risen, knead in some extra dried fruit, whatever you like; I went for dates and sultanas though apricots and cranberries would be lovely; you could also toss in a handful of extra nuts or seeds. You can make the dough the day before you want to bake the bread and store it in the fridge overnight if you like; I always prefer to do this as it breaks up the workload and gives the bread a better flavour. Just before the bread goes in the oven it is brushed with a bit of honey hot water mixture and sprinkled with extra cinnamon and a handful of oats to complete the hearty, rustic look.
- 175 g (6oz) muesli
- 150 ml (⅔ cup) full fat milk
- 450 g (3 + ¾ cups) strong white bread flour
- 25 g (1oz) desiccated coconut
- 1 tsp salt
- 7 g (2 tsp) fast action yeast
- 1 tsp cinnamon plus extra for sprinkling
- 3 tbsp maple syrup
- 200-250 ml (about 1 cup) water
- 100 g (3.5oz) mixed dried fruit (I used chopped dates and sultanas)
- 1 tsp honey mixed with ½ tbsp boiling water
- a handful of oats
- Mix the muesli and milk together in a bowl and leave to soak for fifteen minutes or so. Mix together the flour, coconut, salt, yeast and cinnamon in a large bowl.
- Make a well in the middle of the dry ingredients and add the muesli-milk mixture, the maple syrup and 200ml (¾ cup) of the water. Stir everything together, adding more water as needed, until it forms a shaggy dough.
- Turn out onto an un-floured surface and knead for about 10 minutes until it forms a smooth skin, the dough is a bit denser and less elastic than standard bread dough. Place the kneaded dough in a lightly oiled bowl, cover, and place in the fridge to rise overnight (or for about an hour at room temperature).
- If you refrigerated your dough, the following day let it come up to room temperature for about 30 minutes before proceeding.
- Knock the dough back, then knead in the dried fruit. Shape it into a fat oblong, about 20x15cm (8x6in); place it on an oiled baking sheet, cover with oiled clingfilm and leave to rise for about an hour until doubled in size and the dough no longer springs back quickly if you poke it with a finger.
- Meanwhile, heat the oven to 220C/425F/gas mark 7, place a roasting tray in the bottom of the oven to heat up. Brush the loaf with the honey mixture and sprinkle over a couple of pinches of cinnamon and a handful of oats. Pour some boiling water into the roasting tray to create steam then bake the bread on the upper middle shelf for 15 minutes, then turn the heat down to 190C/375F/gas mark 5 and bake for a further 40-50 minutes until well risen and the bread sounds hollow when tapped on the bottom. The internal temperature should reach 94C/200F on a probe thermometer. Cover with foil after 20 minutes or so if the crust is browning too quickly.
- Transfer the loaf to a wire rack and leave to cool completely before slicing.