Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Toasted Walnuts Gild the Lily

We have a big walnut tree out back and some of the limbs hang over our deck. At this time of year now and again you will hear the walnuts falling onto the deck…rustle, rustle, clunk…and that’s when I know it’s really autumn.

Most years I’m able to harvest enough nuts to shell that I have some for holiday baking. They need to be removed, in some cases, from their outer husk, laid out in the sun to dry a bit, then stored in a cool place until I have time to crack them and release the meats from the shells. This year the squirrel got there first and seems to have eaten all of the good walnuts. Now when Xam, the Baker’s Dog, barks at the squirrel I cheer him on!

I’ve put up a few posts before now sharing the wonderful sourdough graham bread Brunkans Långa which the Bread Baking Babes baked for September. I continue to make the Brunkans Långa because I now have graham sourdough, which gets fed regularly when I feed my regular sourdough.

The last time I made it I decided to add toasted walnuts because I thought that the slightly bitter and very rich flavor of toasted walnuts would complement the strong and slightly sweet grain flavor of the dough. Was I ever right! It made a wonderful bread even better! Although I enjoyed thick slices of the regular Brunkans Långa, with the toasted walnut version I found that I liked it sliced thinly. It was great by itself, toasted and buttered, with cheese and with sliced meats. I used King Arthur White Wheat flour for the whole wheat part of this and found that I needed to use a bit more than when I made it with regular Whole Wheat Flour.

Now that it is fall and walnuts should be readily available, treat yourself and make this wonderful bread! This picture is slightly blurred...the bread was eaten so quickly that I never had another chance to take a better photo once I realized that this one was sucky.

This great bread will be sent over to Susan at Wild Yeast for the weekly Yeastspotting event, a cornucopia of fantastic yeasted bread recipes. Check it out!

Brunkans långa Note: I made half the recipe, then kneaded 1 cup toasted, chopped walnuts into the dough right before putting it into the container and letting it rise overnight.

Graham flour* sourdough:
Day 1, morning:
Mix 60g/100 ml/0,42 cups graham flour
with 120 g/120 ml/0,5 cups water.
Cover with cling film and leave at room temp.
Day 1, evening:
Add 60g/100 ml/0,42 cups graham flour and
60 g/60 ml/0,25 cups water.
Mix, cover with cling film and leave at room temp.
Day 2, morning:
Add 60g/100 ml/0,42 cups graham flour and
60 g/60 ml/0,25 cups water.
Mix. By now, the sourdough should be a little active (bubbly). If not, add a teaspoon of honey, some freshly grated apple or a teaspoon of natural yogurt. Leave at room temp.
Day 3, morning:
Feed the sourdough with 60g/100 ml/0,42 cups graham flour and
60 g/60 ml/0,25 cups water.
Mix, cover with cling film and put in fridge.
Day 4
By now, the sourdough should be ready to use. If you don’t want to use it right away, you can keep in the fridge if you feed it as above a couple of times/week.
*Graham flour can’t be found everywhere. If you want to recreate an exact substitute, here’s what to do, according to Wikipedia:
Graham flour is not available in all countries. A fully correct substitute for it would be a mix of white flour, wheat bran, and wheat germ in the ratio found in whole wheat. Wheat comprises approximately 83% endosperm, 14.5% bran, and 2.5% germ by mass. For sifted all-purpose white flour, wheat bran, and wheat germ having densities of 125, 50, and 80 grams/cup, respectively, one cup of graham flour is approximately equivalent to 84 g (~2/3 cup) white flour, 15 g (slightly less than 1/3 cup) wheat bran, and 2.5 g (1.5 teaspoons) wheat germ.

Brunkans långa
The tall loaf of Brunkebergs bageri
2 large loaves

600 g/600 ml/2,5 cups water
1125 g/2,48 lb high-protein wheat flour (for 1 loaf: 300 g bread flour, 262 g whole wheat flour)
375 g/13,2 oz graham sourdough (see above)
20 g/0,7 oz fresh yeast
150 g/5,3 oz dark brown sugar
25 g/0,88 oz honey
30 g/1 oz sea salt
1 cup toasted, chopped walnuts if using

Day 1
Mix all wet ingredients in a stand mixer bowl. Whisk together all the dry ingredients in another bowl. With the dough hook attached, add the dry ingredients to the wet, keeping the mixer on a low setting. Work the dough in a stand mixer for 10 minutes. Put the dough in a oiled, plastic box and put the lid on. Leave the dough for 30 minutes.

After 30 minutes: fold one side of the dough against the centre of the dough, then fold the other end inwards, finally turn the whole dough so that the bottom side is facing down. If making the toasted walnut version, knead into dough at this point, form dough into as much of a ball as you can and put into the plastic box. Put the plastic box with the dough in the fridge and let it rise over night.

Day 2
Set the oven temp to 250 C/480 F. Leave the baking stone in if you use one.

Pour out the dough on a floured table top and divide it lengthwise with a sharp knife. Put the dough halves on a sheet covered with parchment paper and place another parchment paper or a towel on top. I dusted them with some flour at this point. When the oven is ready, put in the sheet or shove the parchment paper with the loaves onto the baking stone. Put a small tin with 3-4 ice cubes at the bottom of the oven. (The water releases slowly which is supposed to be better.) Lower the oven temperature to 175 C/350 F immediately after you have put in the loaves.

After 20 minutes, open the oven door and let out excess steam.

Bake for 35 minutes or until the loaves have reached an inner temp of 98 C/208 F.

Let cool on wire.


  1. That's some tasty looking bread!

    I thought, at first, that you were going to say you'd baked your bread in a walnut-hull fueled oven, as they do in Italy (and here, sometimes). It gives a fabulous crust. :)

  2. Anonymous12:30 PM

    Were these black- or english walnuts? I have a few black walnut recipies I am dieing to try (and blog about) but my supply is running low. I have a friend in Arkansas who may be able to help, but I don't know when.


  3. autumn mist on the deck
    smell of nuts and apples in the kitchen
    dog barks at the squirrel


  4. David, No just used my gas oven in the kitchen. I would love to have a wood (or walnut hull) fired outdoor oven, but that would be a future project.

    NoHandle, I used english walnuts. I'm afraid if I had black walnuts I would use them all in some fudge. Especially if YOU made the fudge since you are the all time best fudge maker I know. Maybe there is a Guest Blog post in you about fudge making?

    Andreas, I love the poem! Speaks of Fall!

  5. Anonymous1:00 PM

    Fudge is my firs though when I think of something to make with Black walnuts, and I have enough for that. So, perhaps I'll give away a few secrets in a blog soon.

    NoHandle (gotta get a real ID)

  6. It's that time of the year already? Hmm I think I need to nudge some walnut tree owning friends of mine!
    Love walnut bread!

    Didn't know that using the hulls in a wood fired oven would have such an effect on crst, interesting!