Sunday, November 11, 2007

Fennel Seed Bread Recipe

In one of my regular lunch joints, Bestseller Cafe in Viru Keskus (Tallinn), they sometimes serve soup with large chunks of fennel seed bread. Although I'm in somewhat uneasy terms with things aniseedy and liquoricey, I do like that spicy bread a lot. And therefore I couldn't help but try the fennel seed bread recipe that Clivia posted last month. Granted, I changed the recipe - originally from a Swedish baking guru Anna Bergenström - a little (omitting sunflower seeds, making two loaves instead of one, adding salt later in the process, etc), but it's still thanks to Clivia that I've discovered another keeper-recipe. Tack, Kristina!!!

Fennel Seeds (Foeniculum vulgare Mill., apteegitilliseemned ehk ristköömned) are a great spice to use in baking, bread, compotes, pickles and liqueurs, but can also be used to season fish dishes, salads and sauces. If you're interested in fennel seeds' medicinal properties, then you should remember that the seeds are also good for your digestive system and can ease the symptoms of a bad cough.

Fennel Seed Bread
Makes 2 loaves

25 grams fresh yeast
1 Tbsp honey
400 ml tepid water
600 g plain flour (1 litre/about 4 cups)
1 tsp salt
2 tsp fennel seeds, slightly crushed

Crumble the yeast into a large bowl, add honey and stir, until yeast and honey melt into one. Add the tepid water, stir again.
Now add most of the flour, as well as salt and crushed fennel seeds. Stir with a wooden spoon until combined, adding more flour, if the dough is too wet. (I kneaded the dough for 5 minutes in my KitchenAid, then another 2 minutes by hand).
Cover the bowl with a clean towel or clingfilm and let dough rise in a warm, draft-free place about one to two hours, until double in bulk.
Punch down dough. Divide it into two equally sized pieces. Form each dough piece into an oblong loaf on slightly floured surface.
Line a baking sheet with a parchment paper, and lift the dough pieces onto the baking sheet.
Heat the oven to 250 C, and let the dough rise for another 15-20 minutes.
Bake the loaves in the middle of the 250 C oven for 15 minutes, then lower the heat to 150 C and continue baking for about 20 minutes longer, until the bread is light golden brown, and the bread sounds 'hollow' when you tap onto the bottom.
Let cool on a metal rack, loosely covered with a towel.


Wendy said...

I'm drinking fennel tea right now and thinking how lovely your fennel bread sounds. :)

Annemarie said...

Fennel and honey - Mmm, nice. Like Wendy I've also become a big fan of fennel tea (with honey sometimes) so this sounds like more of a good thing.

Anh said...

This is soooo good. I want some bread seriously!

Rosa said...

I've been eating a lot of soup lately and this sounds like the perfect bread to accompany it. Thank you!

Meeta K. Wolff said...

Oh simply lovely Pille! Fennel bread truly sounds delicious. Ialso looks so soft and moist.

lobstersquad said...

ok, sold. I don´t normally like aniseedy tastes, but you make a very stroong case.

Jeanne said...

Like you, I'm also not a liquorice/aniseed fan, but I love fennel & caraway. Who knew?! This bread sounds delicious and do-able, even for a non-baker like me :)

Gloria Baker said...

Pille, this bread smell sooo well !!!! Gloria

Ilva said...

I often use fennel seeds in bread but in wholewheat bread, never tried it in white bread, though-must try it! Thanks!

Farmgirl Susan said...

Hi Pille,
Yay, bread! I'm saving this recipe right now to so I have it handy for the next time my mother visits the farm. She loves fennel so much she uses fennel flavored toothpaste! Thanks for another interesting recipe. : )

Evelin said...

apteegitilliseemned on sama, mis ristköömned? okei, tohohh:D aitäh!:)ei mingit peamurdmist enam, et millised need olla võiks - kodus ju täitsa olemas:)

Anonymous said...

Yum, yum, yum . . . this makes me want to make some braised pork to serve along side it. Could you make it with whole wheat flour? Would you have to adjust if so?

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Shaun said...

Pille ~ I have a weakness for anything with the aromatic compound of anethole. This fennel bread is a must try...later, that is. I love warm bread first thing in the morning, but when the kitchen is already warm on account of it being Summer, I don't bother making it and just go to the local bakery instead. I should try to make different breads, though. I have always meant to...(I am sure for us foodies there are many techniques and recipes we mean to try).

Pille said...

Wendy – oh, that might be a little too much fennel at once :) But separately, each would be great!

Annemarie – I need to give fennel tea with honey another go!

Anh – well, you’d be most welcome!

Rosa – that’s exactly the case. It’d be excellent even with a rather simple soup, as the flavour is quite strong.

Meeta – it was very soft, and nicely textured indeed. Surprisingly so, considering the simplicity of the recipe.

Lobstersquad – exactly – somehow the aniseediness of this bread doesn’t bother me. Must be some kind of baking magic!

Jeanne – I loooove caraway – even more than I like fennel. I don’t think there’s anything remotely aniseedy about caraway, but maybe that’s just me :) Fennel as a herb used to drive me mad in Scotland. I bought it a few times by mistake, thinking it’s dill (one of my very favourite herbs). I was soooo upset every time :)

Gloria – yes, it was a lovely-smelling bread!

Ilva – I must try wholewheat next time!

Farmgirl Susan – I’ve got your tomato juice bread bookmarket – as many other of your bread recipes :) Hope your mum will like this!

Evelin – just nimelt! Meil on kodus nelja sorti köömneid hetkel – harilikud ‘eesti’ köömned (caraway), vürtsköömned (cumin), ristköömned (fennel) ja mustköömned (nigella).

SwirlingNotions – braised pork would be a great accompaniment! I think you could use whole wheat flower – maybe mixed with a quarter of white flour? If you do experiment, please report back.

Shaun - so it's called anethole? How interesting. If I had a good bakery just around the corner, I'd buy my bread from them as well, but sadly there's none in the neighbourhood, so I must bake my own:)

Salli said...

It looks lovely, and I will make some soon but what do you mean by 1 Litre of flour.Here in the uk litres would be liquid measurements.Do you have a measurement in Killograms ?

Pille said...

Sally - in the UK you often use cups to measure dry goods and that's the same thing :) There's about 4 cups + 4 Tbsp to a litre. Or, if you want to be more precise, 100 ml of flour weighs 60 grams, so 1 litre would be 600 grams (or 0.6 kg)

I hope you'll enjoy the bread - it's lovely for the cooler autumn days!

Salli said...

Many thanks for the translation ! I have guests over this weekend so am going to give it a go and serve with home made chicken soup. I will let you know how I get on ....

Sarah said...

Do you know where i might be able to buy fennel seeds? I can't seem to see them in my local supermarket

Pille said...

Sarah, that really depends on where you're based :)

sam said...

if you are in the UK there are a number of specialist indian shops that would sell fennel seeds, or you could try online

Melissa said...

It’s delicious, and what a nice change to use yeast and such basic ingredients in a recipe again! Mine didn’t rise as high as hoped, but I’ll try to fix that next time. I also used two tablespoons of fennel seed instead of the two teaspoons called for below. I recommend it.

L said...

This looks amazing, I am going to make it in the morning!