Introduction: Fractal Almond Bread in Memory of Benoit Mandelbrot

Benoit Mandelbrot passed away a few days ago. He has been for a long time one of my personal heroes. Rereading his wikipedia entry I've read something that I haven't noticed before:

The English pronunciation of the name "Mandelbrot", which is a German and Yiddish word meaning "almond bread",

So why not make some almond bread in the shape of a fractal?

Although I would love to make the loafs in the shape of a Mandebrot set I choose the weakling way and went for a more easy first order Sierpinski carpet.

Step 1: Ingredients and the Quest for Almond Flour

The recipe is pretty simple:

1 kilo of flour. (about 2.2 lbs) split 3 ways
300 g (2/3 lbs) of almond flour 
3 Tablespoons of sugar
500 ml (a pint) of water
150 ml (5oz) milk
Instant yeast
2 eggs
a pinch of salt
almonds for decoration
2 doses of amaretto liqueur 

if you want a glaze:

5 tablespoons of confectioners sugar
2 doses of amaretto liqueur

If you don't have almond flour, as I didn't I just ground some myself with a coffee grinder.

I had to work in batches and left some batches a little coarser or chunky so I could have a better end texture on the bread.

Also a word of advice: If you can, have different grinders for coffee and spices. I've ruined some very good coffee once.

Step 2: Biga and Soaker

I do bread in a two stage method. First stage is done in two parts.

The biga which is what Italians call what French call liquid yeast. And a soaker which is just flour and water left alone so the gluten can stretch better.

The Biga:

One third of the flour goes with the yeast and the same weight in water (about 300g or 2/3 of a pound)  Leave that in a large bowl and wait for it to grow

The Soaker:

Another third of the flour and the rest of the water goes together. Mix them well with fork

Leave them both alone to rest in a warm place for about 2 hours at least

Step 3: Mixing Everything Together

This is where it starts to come about.

In the Soaker add the two eggs and mix it until they are incorporated.

Then add the milk, salt, amaretto and sugar to the Soaker mixing again until it is homogeneous.  

On a working surface add half of the leftover flour, make a well and add the Soaker and the Biga in the middle.

Work the dough very lightly. Taking a lot of care to not pop the bubbles.

If the dough is too sticky add little by little the remaining flour

Step 4: Cutting Out the Dough

Lay the dough in a flat rectangular shape. Do not press it down, just work it softly in the shape.

I used two square cutters. 

First you make the larger square then you cut the middle.

Mix the leftovers and try to make one or two extra loafs.  

Leave to rest for at least 30 mins.

Step 5: Bake Them

Preheat the oven on 200 C or 395 F for about 10 minutes then bake them.

It took about 30 to 40 minutes on my oven but pay attention to yours after the first 25 mins.

The Sierpinski carpet has much more surface area to volume than a regular loaf of bread, so they will cook faster and brown better. 

Step 6: Serving Suggestions and Conclusion

They worked great. They are not too sweet or savory.

The shape gave an extra crispness to the inside of the squares.

If you prefer the sweet side: serve them with honey or make a glaze mixing the confectioners sugar and the amaretto liqueur. Both work great.

On the other hand just add butter and they are a great savory treat.