We haven’t had a chance to make this bread yet, but we know what a great chef Maggie Parkinson (from Poulsbo, Washington) is, so we knew you would want this recipe. We can’t think of a cheese that wouldn’t go perfectly with this gorgeous bread. Thank you for sharing it with us, Maggie!
A friend of mine bought me a gift—a loaf of PERRIN BREAD which is made here in Seattle at the Essential Baking Company.
I liked it a lot and started to Google around to see if I could see how it was made. I don’t KNOW who originated the recipe—whether it was the baking company OR if they adopted it from: Artisan Baking Across America: The Breads, the Bakers, the Best Recipes by Maggie Glezer
Somebody took the recipe and posted it online: http://www.farine-mc.com/2009/06/essential-sweet-perrin-pear-bread.html
If you look this over, you can decide if you’d like to have a go at making it the way it was meant to be – you have to start the day before and make a ferment and find cracked rye – even though I have a magnificent market at my disposal here in Poulsbo – they didn’t carry cracked RYE. Sooooo, in my usual fashion, I started to “dink” with the recipe. I am a compulsive dinker of recipes.
The original perrin bread is quite complicated and is made over a period of two days. I don’t have the time for that and won’t ever! I looked hard at it and wondered if all of the steps were necessary and what their benefit was. So I started to simplify it. NOTE: I have sampled the version from Seattle’s Essential Bakery and enjoyed it. That’s why I looked for a recipe. I can’t really tell the difference between this version and the original.
I have eliminated the ferment with cracked rye which is hard to find and because the quantity of it is so small anyway. In place of the “ferment” I used sourdough. I do not take sourdough mix and feed it – I just take sourdough right out of my crock and use it, feeding the sourdough for next time in the process. The original has a “crackly” crust which I have not researched or tried to duplicate. I don’t recall that the one I first sampled had this anyway. You can see that here: http://essentialbaking.com/organic-sweet-perrin-is-available/#comments
Before beginning, it will be helpful to have a scale which measures in grams (although I have estimated the amounts in ounces). Get out several small bowls for weighing stuff and put each bowl in turn on the scale, zeroing out the scale as you go.
Pear and Fig Bread
By Maggie Parkinson
It is important to be armed with the right ingredients before starting this and those include:
Sourdough starter (350g or 12.3oz) (see my note below*)
White bread flour (strong, plain flour) (300g or 11oz)
Wholewheat flour (40g or 1.4oz)
Pear puree (drain the pears (fresh or canned)and crush or mash until you have the right amount) (80g or 3oz)
One very UNRIPE pear, chopped into half inch pieces (115g or 4oz or 3/4 of a pear)
About 8 dried figs cut into small pieces (60g or 2oz)
* Yeast (9g or 1/3oz or 2 teaspoons) I use yeast even though this is a sourdough recipe. There is so much STUFF in this bread that the dough needs some help to rise up!
Hazelnuts (60g or 2oz)
Pumpkin pie spice (1.5 teaspoons) or a mix of brown sugar (35g or 1.2oz), allspice (1/2 teaspoon), cinnamon (3/4 teaspoon)
Salt (1/2 tablespoon or 1.5 level teaspoons)
Water, warmed up to baby bath temperature (up to 100g or 3.5oz – the amount dependent on many factors like pear puree and how runny your sourdough is.
I use instant yeast all the time now. You may use regular dried yeast and wake it up with a bit of the sugar and a little of the warmed water.
The sugar is not in the original recipe—I added it and prefer the bread a little sweeter than the original.
I don’t bother to peel the pear NOR do I take the skin off the hazelnuts – I don’t think it makes a difference to the eventual result. If I can shortcut, I do!
I am not used to weighing out liquids in gram form: in this recipe just slap a jug onto a scale, zero the scale and add sourdough until the scale shows 350 grams! Strange, but just do it!
I have mostly given up SECOND RISES with my doughs – I don’t think that makes a real difference to the finished product either.
Weigh out all the ingredients as listed and mix together the flours, salt, yeast, spices and sourdough.
Add the pear puree and mix well. Now, start adding warm water until you have a reasonably workable dough. Given the sourdough and pear puree, that might NOT be very much water.
Knead for a few minutes by hand or in a mixer.
At this point, you can either KNEAD in the pieces of pear, figs and hazelnuts; as there are a lot of extras going in – that’s not particularly easy. So, the last time I made this, I rolled out the dough into a rectangle and dotted the surface with all the goodies evenly.
At this point, I added a light layer of extra cinnamon and brown sugar – this is optional. Try it both ways and see which you like best.
If you put the goodies into the bread by rolling like I just described, roll the dough up and seal up the ends.
Place in a bread pan or on a cookie sheet. Preheat your oven to 375F. Let it rise until it’s good and puffy.
The original has gashes in the crust—optional!
BAKING: I have baked this now in a traditional bread pan OR I have baked it free form on a cookie sheet. It takes about 45 minutes to cook, as it is very dense.
IN THE PAN I found that the bread was a little underdone in the center although it really looked done to me. IN THE PAN you get nice regular slices though.
In this photo you can see where I rolled it up and the final join is on the side. And what a messy cook I am. The benefit to this method is that every slice has an even amount of the add- ins! Also, a good shot of my gorgeous granite!
IF you bake it free form, I think it cooks more evenly but, of course, one does not get regular slices.
While baking it – and just like pretty much every bread I make – I spray the crust with water several times during the baking process…this makes for a really chewy crust which I like.
This really is an exceptional bread and I am now making it very often. I love it with honey butter or cream cheese but that’s because I am a glutton – really – it needs no embellishment!
I hope it becomes a favorite for you as it is for us.
Thanks for reading!