As a full-time food blogger, I get asked a lot about what recipes are my favorite to make. I must admit I cringe at this question because for one, it’s like choosing a favorite child, and two, oftentimes I’m embarrassed to share my true answers.
Because when it comes to dinner, the answer is bean and cheese enchiladas — sometimes, I confess, made in the microwave. And when it comes to dessert, the answer is plain old chocolate chip cookies — which I don’t even have a recipe for on this very website (and I even wax poetic about my love for cookies on my about page). And when it comes to bread, I didn’t even have an answer. What kind of bread baking blogger doesn’t have an answer for her favorite bread recipe?
The shame. Oh, the shame.
And then one day, one glorious day, this little strawberry almond loaf decided to make itself known in my life. And now, ladies and gentlefolk, I finally have an answer to that question — and it’s one I am not ashamed to give.
I found this recipe on the Red Star Yeast website and it called out to me like a beacon of deliciousness. I knew I had to give it a try or else I would never be able to get it out of my mind. I mean, hello fresh strawberries and sliced almonds in a sandwich loaf! It just could not be overlooked.
Of course, I’ll be honest with you — I didn’t know what to expect from this bread at first. It’s called a tea bread, the strawberries and almonds are actually beaten into the dough and the bread itself is supposed to taste like strawberries? It was confusing (doesn’t take much for me). But my curiosity got the better of me and so off I went, into the unknown abyss where I would soon discover that the formula for making foolproof, delicious bread every time is simple: Strawberries and almonds. Amen.
Of course, I realize this flavor combination isn’t everyone’s fave. But here’s the thing: It’s not like the flavors scream at you from the loaf. Instead, the strawberry is only a backnote to the otherwise mild flavor of the bread (its light blush color gives it away, too). As for the almonds, their only presence is found studded throughout the loaf, offering a pleasant crunch every few bites. Otherwise, it’s a classic white sandwich bread, through and through — only it’s also one of the best ones you’ll ever make.
Basically, if you’re looking to try something new in the bread baking department… if you’re hungry and strawberries and almonds sound yummy to you (that one’s rhetorical, really)… if you need an answer when someone asks you a question about your favorite recipe and you just can’t bring yourself to tell them how much you love eating grilled cheese for dinner… this bread is for you. Do yourself a favor and make it already.
I can’t believe I told you how much I love microwaved enchiladas. But oh… I do. I really do.
Strawberry Almond Bread
Recipe courtesy of Red Star Yeast
Yields: 1 9-by-5-inch loaf
3 cups bread flour, divided
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
2 1/4 teaspoons (1 packet) Red Star PLATINUM yeast
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 cup sliced fresh strawberries
1/4 cup sour cream
5 tablespoons water
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1/3 cup slivered almonds
In the bowl of a stand mixer*, combine 1 cup bread flour, sugar, yeast and salt. Set aside.
In a small saucepan over medium heat, stir together strawberries, sour cream, water and oil until warm (about 120 degrees F). Add warm strawberry mixture to flour mixture; beat with paddle attachment on medium speed 4 minutes. Scrape down sides of bowl and switch to dough hook. Gradually stir in remaining flour and slivered almonds on low speed, then increase to medium speed and knead 5 to 7 minutes, or until dough is smooth and elastic.
Shape dough into a ball and place in a lightly greased bowl; turn to coat. Cover bowl with plastic wrap or a tea towel and let dough rise in a warm place until doubled, about 1 hour.
Punch down risen dough and transfer to a lightly floured surface. Pat or roll dough out into a 14-by-7-inch rectangle. Roll up tightly from the short end into a loaf; pinch ends to seal. Place loaf in a lightly greased 9-by-5-inch loaf pan. Cover pan with plastic wrap or a tea towel and let rise in a warm place until doubled, about 1 to 1 1/2 hours.
Meanwhile, heat oven to 375 degrees F. When dough is risen, bake until golden brown and baked through, about 30 to 40 minutes. Remove from pan and cool completely on a cooling rack before slicing.
*See RSY’s website for instructions on how to make the bread without a stand mixer.
Disclosure: I received compensation from Red Star Yeast for recipe development purposes. All opinions are my own.