Harvest Fruit & Nut Bread with Gorgonzola Cheese
When the weather turns chilly, it's time to cozy up inside and do some baking. There is nothing like baking bread on a crisp fall day to fill the house with warmth and that tantalizing aroma.
For something different, try this hearty rustic loaf filled with nuts, dried fruit and the rich flavor of Gorgonzola cheese. Adding Gorgonzola cheese to bread may sound unusual, but it creates an amazing depth of flavor that only gets better after the loaf rests for a day or two. Wonderful when toasted, great with your favorite preserves or as the base for a fantastic sandwich, the hearty flavor of Harvest Fruit & Nut Bread will keep them coming back for more.
Stir sugar and yeast into warm milk-water mixture. Let sit a few minutes, till yeast foams.
Add salt and 3 ¾ cups flour and stir until it comes together, then gently knead it until flour is incorporated. Turn out onto lightly floured surface and knead till soft and elastic, about 10 minutes.
Pat the dough out into a rectangular shape, cover with tea towel and let rest for 6 minutes. Pat it out again into a fairly large rectangle. Sprinkle the apricots, cherries and walnuts over top and press the pieces into the dough. Crumble the gorgonzola cheese evenly over top.
Roll the dough up into a tube along the long side. Stretch and press the dough as you go along to make sure that all the filling is contained. Pinch the seam and ends of the cylinder to seal it. Turn the ends in towards the center and press them down into one another.
Lightly oil a large bowl, put dough inside and then turn once. Place a clean dish towel over top and set it aside in a warm, draft free spot to rise for at least one hour, or until doubled in size.
Turn the dough onto a lightly floured work surface. Punch down the dough and then shape it into a round shape without adding any extra flour if you can help it. Flour your surface if needed. Tuck any escapee fruits and nuts back into the dough. Cut 2-3 slashes into the top.
Place the prepared ball onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and cover it with a tea towel. Let the bread rise for at least 45 minutes, or until it has increased in size by about half.
Move your oven rack down into the lower third of the oven and preheat it to 400ºF.
Bake the bread for 30-35 minutes, until the top is a rich tan brown.
Allow the bread to cool a bit before cutting.