Bread of Love

Red wine bread with figs and pine nuts

For the record, let me say that any home-baked bread, and indeed all home-cooked food, has aphrodisiac potential. Any lover who does not recognize a lovingly-prepared dish as an eminently romantic gesture is clearly the wrong sort of lover.

That said, there are of course a few foods reputed to possess extraordinary amatory powers. In honor of this month of love, here’s a bread whose three starring ingredients are officially on Aphrodite’s List:

  • Red wine stimulates the senses and relaxes the body and mind.
  • Pine nuts are rich in zinc, an essential mineral for male potency. (Does anyone get “Pi|\|e |\|uts” spam?)
  • Figs‘ aphrodisiacal power is said to lie in their resemblance to the female anatomy.

Kitchen of Love event The recipe, adapted from from Dan Lepard‘s The Handmade Loaf (a must-have for any serious bread-baker’s library), is my contribution to Mele Cotte’s Kitchen of Love.

This flat, dense loaf has an incredibly rich, sweet flavor that is amazing with tangy cheeses. Guaranteed to leave your beloved begging for more.

Slices of red wine bread

Red Wine Loaf with Pine Nuts and Figs

Yield: 1450 g (2 loaves)


  • Soak figs and pine nuts: 8 – 12 hours
  • Mix: 45 minutes (very little of this is active time)
  • First fermentation: 1 hour, with folds at 30 and 60 minutes
  • Divide/rest/shape: 10 minutes
  • Proof: 2 hours
  • Bake: 50 minutes

Wine soaker ingredients:

  • 250 g red wine
  • 100 g pine nuts
  • 200 g dried figs, cut into eighths

Final dough ingredients:

  • 250 g flour
  • 250 g whole wheat flour
  • 265 g liquid (wine drained from soaked figs/nuts, plus enough water to make 265 g) at room temperature
  • 10 g salt
  • 2 g instant yeast
  • 166 g mature 100%-hydration sourdough starter
  • all of the soaked, drained figs and pine nuts


  1. Combine all of the wine soaker ingredients in a saucepan and heat to boiling. Simmer for a minute and remove from the heat. Leave covered overnight, stirring once before bed.
  2. Drain the figs and nuts, reserving the drained wine. Combine the wine with enough water to make 265 g.
  3. In a large bowl, combine the flours with the salt. In a medium bowl, whisk together the starter, wine/water, and yeast.
  4. Add the liquid ingredients and figs and nuts to the dry ingredients. Mix with your hands until the ingredients are just combined. Cover and let rest for 10 minutes.
  5. Turn the dough onto a lightly-floured counter and knead for 10 – 15 seconds. Return the dough to the bowl, cover, and let rest for 30 minutes.Knead the dough for another 10 – 15 seconds.
  6. Return the dough to the bowl, and let it ferment, covered, for one hour, with a fold at 30 minutes and another at the end of the hour. The dough will not have expanded much in volume.
  7. Divide the dough into two pieces and shape them lightly into balls. Cover with a cloth and let rest for 5 minutes.
  8. Using as little flour as possible to prevent sticking, roll each ball into an oval about 3/4″ thick. Place the ovals on a floured linen, and cover with another cloth.
  9. Proof the loaves at room temperature for 2 hours. They will not rise very much.
  10. Meanwhile, preheat the oven, with baking stone, to 410F. You will also need steam during the initial phase of baking, so prepare for this now.
  11. Before baking, slash each loaf in a criss-cross pattern with the slashes about 1/3″ apart.
  12. Bake with steam for 15 minutes, then another 30 minutes or so without steam. The loaves should be a dark rich brown. Then turn the oven off and leave the loaves inside, with the door ajar, for another 5 minutes.
  13. Place the loaves on a wire rack to cool.

CommentsLeave a comment

  1. says

    Hi Susan, I must try this one. A red wine soaker yet. With Valentines Day approaching, I have the necessary ingredients on hand…to set the night on FIRE!
    I gotta get a location.
    Best, David

  2. says

    Actually figs are hermaphrodites Susan!
    Love that red look, I have seen on some pro French sites, saucisson and wine breads, and Richard Bertinet gets this wine flour, actually made from grapes I think?


  3. says

    Susan: We must have a problem here. Do you have a hidden camera in my house or some robotic spy? I have those pine nuts, wine and figs soaking in my fridge now (actually for 3 days)!!
    Seeing yours, I’m more excited than ever to bake this one!

  4. says

    David, I hope you have a very fiery Valentines Day.

    Hillary, I got one of the good ones, I hope you did (or will) too.

    Chris, I remembered that Dan Lepard’s book had a red wine bread and thought of it for your event. What a bonus when it turned out to have the other ingredients as well. Thanks for hosting this fun event. I’m looking forward to seeing what the other participants come up with.

    Jeremy, I’d never heard of wine flour before — now I am intrigued and must find out more.

    Aparna & Bev, Lepard’s book has many unique recipes like this. Take a look at it if you haven’t already.

    Tanna, hmmm, it appears we are actually the same person.

  5. says

    That looks amazing! I really love the criss-cross pattern — do you think it would work on other breads, too?

    I cooked for every Valentine’s Day while my boyfriend and I were in law school, but this year he’s planning a surprise! (I’m actually a little disappointed!)

  6. says

    Hola Susan, what a savory bread! Now it’s been some days I feel so curious about baking bread. Never done it before. I’m bookmarking your blog… You are an expert!!!! ;-)

  7. says

    Jeremy, thanks for the link. It definitely looks interesting, if a little pricey. But I guess a little would probably go a long way.

    Katy, now that you (and we all) know what your surprise is, I’ll wager you’re not disappointed any more! The very narrow criss-cross pattern I think would work best on other breads like this that are fairly dense and do not give much oven spring.

    Bart, yours turned out beautifully!

    LisaRene, this is indeed a unique recipe and I highly recommend Dan Lepard’s book for more interesting ones like this.

    Ann, this bread would indeed be great with brie.

    Andrea, thanks! The bread does have a beautiful rich color. Mine seems to have turned out somewhat darker than the photo in the book, which I guess is due to differences in flour between here and the UK.

    Angel, we do bread, cheese, and fruit (and wine) for dinner quite a lot. Definitely a satisfying meal.

    Tina, thanks and welcome!

    Núria, I hope you will bake your first bread soon, and many times after that!

    Susan, you’re welcome. Do try it!

  8. says

    Susan, you’re blog makes me want to get out the butter and start spreading it on! You bake such magnificent breads, bagels, donuts, etc. and it’s always a treat to visit and peruse the pictures, wishing all the while that I could bite into just one of them, LOL.

  9. says

    Hi Susan,
    I have linked you in my blog because I have made the same bread as you. I find very interesting and helpful all your posts.
    Thank you so much.

  10. says

    Wow, that looks so beautiful. I just saw the picture of this bread on the left sidebar of your site and just HAD to click on it. Hm, one can make bread with wine. Who knew? :)

  11. Gaby says

    This looks soo good! I’ve been wanting to make a lot of recipes involving wine lately. Would this work without the sourdough starter? I have no idea where to get it, and don’t really like sourdough bread. And please share more recipes like this!

  12. annie says

    Hi Susan, I just found your blog. It’s fantastic. You’ve got so many recipes that I’d love to try (and can only hope that I get similar results). I just made a wine bread this weekend myself following a recipe from Richard Bertinet’s book CRUST. It uses grape powder which is made of dried grape skins from winemaking. It seems like this product is only available from Canada right now through Vinifera for Life – all the grapes come from wineries in the Niagara region. You might want to check that out.

    Thanks for putting together such a wonderful resource.

  13. Avi says

    Hi Susan, I was looking for special bread recipe when I found Your blog. It realy looks great and I’m about to make it this friday. One thing though, how do i make good sourdough starter ?


  14. Ana says

    Hi Susan, I recently found your blog when trying to better understand sourdough and am happy to say I finally GOT IT! I´m in Venezuela right now. I am taking a bread course and was looking for ideas for my final exam, this bread looks amazing, do you think it could work with pecans?It´s very hard to get pine nuts here.


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