This loaf is the creation of “Magic” Dragan, the Conjuring Croatian. He says, “The smell of the loaves baking is enough to lift the spirits on even the dullest day!”, and that blend of honey, fruit, nuts and spices is guaranteed to lift your spirits. It goes well with cheese and I’m assured it makes outstanding toast for breakfast, if there’s any left by then.

Dragan Matijevic started baking when he arrived in the UK from what was Yugoslavia in the 1970s and was shocked by what was sold as “bread”. He and his partner Penny later created what they called “the world’s smallest bakery” at home. In 2013, they moved to the edge of Dartmoor National Park and set up the Artisan Bakery School, teaching people both baking and business skills to launch their own microbakeries or micropizzerias.

Makes: 2 small loaves

from mixing to oven: 6 hours

Baking time: 35 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 500g/1lb 2oz/3½ cups white bread flour
  • 150g/5½oz/â…” cup white sourdough starter
  • 350g/12oz/1½ cups water
  • 30g/1oz/about 2 tbsp honey
  • 3g/¾ tsp fresh yeast
  • 10g/2 tsp fine/table salt
  • 5 cardamom pods
  • 200g/7oz/1½ cups pitted prunes, chopped
  • 150g/5½oz/1½ cups walnuts, quartered
  • 2-3 tsp ground cumin

Method:

  • Mix the flour, sourdough starter, water, honey and yeast together thoroughly. Cover and leave at room temperature for 1 hour.
  • Stretch the dough out, scatter the salt over it and then knead until you have a smooth, stretchy dough. Cover the dough and leave to relax for 10 minutes.
  • Crush the seeds from the cardamom pods in a mortar and pestle, discarding the husks. Flatten out the dough and spread evenly with the prunes, walnuts, cumin and cardamom. Knead until all the ingredients are incorporated and evenly distributed, then shape the dough into a ball. Cover and leave for 30 minutes before giving the dough a single fold.
  • Leave for a further 30 minutes before giving the dough another single fold, then cover and leave to rise for a further 2 hours.
  • Divide the dough into 2 equal-size pieces, shape into balls, cover and leave to rest for 15 minutes.
  • Dust two 500g/1lb proving baskets with flour. Shape the dough balls to fit and place them seam-side up in the baskets. Cover and leave to rise at room temperature for 1 hour.
  • Heat the oven to 230°C/210°C fan/450°F/gas 8, with a large baking stone or baking sheet in place. Turn the loaves out onto a floured peel. Slash the top of each loaf, slide them gently onto the baking stone and bake for 35 minutes.

By Dragon Matijevic

Extracted from Slow Dough by Chris Young © Chris Young 2016 published by Nourish Books, London Hardback£20.00