1 1/4 cups warm water (110 degrees F.)
2 eggs, room temperature
1 tablespoon oil (olive oil, canola oil or vegetable oil)
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon diastatic barley malt (optional)*
4 cups bread flour
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
3 teaspoons instant active dry yeast
2 to 2 1/2 cups of mixed chopped nuts and chopped dried fruit (such as raisins, dates, apricots, apples, cherries, etc.)**
* Also called gluten flour, instant gluten flour, pure gluten flour, and vital wheat gluten depending on vendor and manufacturer. This is flour with the starch and bran removed. Gluten is the natural protein in the wheat endosperm which, when combined with water, forms a taffy-like dough. This retains the gas and steam from baking.
** To keep dried fruit and nuts from sticking together, put them in a small bowl with approximately 2 teaspoons flour; stir to thoroughly combine.
After resting, turn dough bottom side up and press to flatten. Fold dough into an envelope by folding the top 1/3 of the way to the bottom. Then fold the bottom a 1/3 of the way over the top. Then press dough with the palm of your hand to make an indentation down the center of the dough and fold the top completely to the bottom, sealing the seam with the palm of your hand.
Place on a baking sheet dusted with cornmeal or covered with a silpad; cover and place in a warm spot to rise for approximately 20 minutes. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
Oven Rising: Sometimes I use my oven for the rising. Turn the oven on for a minute or so, then turn it off again. This will warm the oven and make it a great environment for rising bread. If you can nott comfortably press your hand against the inside of the oven door, the oven is too hot. Let it stand open to cool a bit.
Cool or Refrigerator Rise: If I don't have the time to wait for the rise to finish or I know that I will be interrupted before the completed rise, I do a cool rise. A cool rise is when the dough is place in the refrigerator and left to rise slowly over night approximately 8 to 12 hours. I usually do this after the first rise and the dough has been shaped into a loaf.
After dough has risen, slash the bread with a very sharp knife making three 1/2-inch deep diagonal slashes. Brush the top of the bread with cold water and bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until nicely browned. A good check is to use an instant digital thermometer to test your bread. The internal temperature should be between 200 and 210 degrees F.
This is the type of cooking and meat thermometer that I prefer and use in my cooking. I get many readers asking what cooking/meat thermometer that I prefer and use in my cooking and baking. I, personally, use the Thermapen Thermometer shown in the photo on the right. To learn more about this excellent thermometer and to also purchase one (if you desire), just click on the underlined: Thermapen Thermometer.
Remove from oven and let cool on a wire rack.
Makes 1 1/2-pound loaf.