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Best. Bread. Ever. I am obviously on a bread kick here and loving every minute of it, this also is a tweaked version of a recipe from Great Baking. My experience with figs has never gone past the Newton but I was feeling adventurous and thought this sounded really good. I originally thought this would be more of a savory bread and I guess it sort of is, we had it last night with mushroom barley soup and it was so, so good. But then this morning I has some more toasted with a little Earth Balance and it was straight up the best toast I have ever eaten. This is somewhat of a labor intensive affair but totally worth it.

Fig Walnut Bread

1-1/2 cups warm water, divided

2-1/4 tsp. yeast

1 tsp. sugar

4 to 4-1/2 cups flour (I used half all purpose and half white whole wheat)

2 Tbsp. olive oil, divided

1 Tbsp. agave nectar

2 tsp. salt

1-1/2 cups chopped dried figs

1 cup roughly chopped walnuts, lightly toasted or not

In a large bowl mix 1 cup warm water, yeast, and sugar until combined. Allow to sit for about 5 minutes or until the mixture looks foamy. Stir in 1 cup of flour, cover bowl and allow to sit for about 45 minutes in a warm place, when ready the mixture should look thick and bubbly. If your house is anything like mine this time of year (cold!) set your bowl on top of a small pot filled with very hot tap water when rising, this works really well for me.

Add another 3 cups of flour, 1 Tbsp. of olive oil, agave nectar, salt and the last ½ cup of warm water and mix until well combined. Turn dough out on to a lightly floured surface and knead for about 5-8 minutes adding additional flour as needed to keep from sticking. Knead in the figs and nuts by flattening dough and spreading figs and nuts then folding in half then in half again, you may need to do this a few times to get it all in there. Knead until all the figs and nuts are evenly mixed in throughout the dough.

Wash out your mixing bowl and add a little olive oil, add your dough flipping it over to coat it in the oil. Cover and let rise until about double in size, around 2 hours.

Punch down dough and let rest for 5-10 minutes then cut in half and shape each piece into an oval shaped loaf. Put both loaves on a prepared baking sheet making sure they are at least a few inches away from each other. Cover and let rise again for about 45 minutes.

Preheat oven to 425 degrees and cut 3 slashes in each loaf then brush with the remaining olive oil. Bake for about 30 minutes. Cool on sheet for 10 minutes then transfer to a cooling rack.

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