Sunday, March 13, 2011

Walnut Date Celebration Bread

Because it is in the Celebration Breads chapter and because I'm celebrating finally, after a month, being able to walk downstairs in the normal way with no pain, I decided to make a Sourdough Mixed Grain version of Panettone con Datteri e Noci inspired by the recipe for Panettone made that way in Carol Field's The Italian Baker.

I decided to skip all that lamination...did plenty of that with the croissants...and just keep the idea of making a date and walnut rich ball with a stack of three dough layers. This version still takes a little more time and care because you are working with large sheets of dough and stacking them after they are 'filled'. If I were to do it again I would flour up my bread paddle and lay the walnut layer on it as soon as it was rolled out but before I had filled it. That way the whole layer would, probably, slide off onto the date layer

fairly easily. As it was I did two layers on one board, moving the date layer to a sheet pan and bringing it back to be covered with the walnut layer when that was ready.

I rolled the plain layer on another work surface, although perhaps a bit too thinly. I didn't have room to roll the dough all out at once, so I cut the dough into three pieces and worked with each in turn.

Although a traditional Pannettone bread would be lovely and this multi-grain dough worked well, I suspect that you could use any flavorful bread dough for the dough part as long as it went well with dates and walnuts. I did add a 1/2 cup brown sugar with 1/2 teaspoon dried ground orange peel mixed in because I wanted it a bit sweeter than I had made the dough and I love orange flavor with dates and walnuts. You could also sub in orange zest. You could also start with a sweeter dough and skip the brown sugar (which is less messy, too). Doesn't this look mouthwatering with the dates and nuts?

I'm sending this over to Susan at Wild Yeast for her Yeastspotting weekly event...a wonderland of recipes of things made with yeast...check it out!

Sourdough Mixed Grain Dough with Almond Meal

1 cup sourdough starter
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup water

1/2 cup barely warm water
all of the poolish
1 1/4 cup bread flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup barley flour
1/4 cup soy flour
1/2 cup almond meal (finely ground almonds)
1/4 cup wheat germ
1/2 teaspoon super active dry yeast
2 teaspoons sea salt
additional bread flour as needed (1-2 cups at most)

Datteri e Noci
Above Mixed Grain dough
3/4 cup chopped dates
1 1/3 cups chopped toasted walnuts
4 tablespoons soft butter, divided
1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
1/2 teaspoon dried ground orange peel

For the Poolish
Whisk together the flour and water and add it to the sourdough starter. Let sit uncovered 2 hours to ferment.

For the Dough
Take the Poolish and put it into the bowl of a stand mixer. Add the 1/2 cup water and stir to combine.

In another bowl, whisk together the four flours, almond meal, wheat germ, yeast and sea salt to combine. With the dough hook attached and the speed on low, gradually add the flour mixture to the poolish mixture until a soft dough is formed. Let the mixer do the kneading, adding flour as needed a tablespoon at a time, or turn dough onto a floured surface and knead by hand until dough is satiny and elastic.

Place dough into oiled rising container or bowl, turn to coat with oil, cover with plastic wrap and a tea towel and let rise until doubled in bulk, about 2 hours.

Remove risen dough to a lightly floured work surface and knead lightly to release any extra gas.
Filling and Shaping. Mix the brown sugar with the orange peel and set aside.

Roll the dough out 1/2 inch thick. Cut the dough into 3 equal rectangles. Spread 2 tablespoons of butter one one, leaving about an inch around the edges free of butter, then repeat on a second rectangle, using up the rest of the butter. On one rectangle sprinkle the dates; on the second, the walnuts;

leave the third layer empty. If using, sprinkle the date layer with half the brown sugar mixture.

Place the walnut dough on top of the date dough and sprinkle with the other half of the brown sugar mixture, then cover both of them with the plain dough. Pinch the edges to seal and gently shape into a ball by pulling the dough taut and pinching it together at the bottom. Place in a buttered panettone mold, 2-pound coffee can lined with a round of parchment paper, or 2-quart springform mold with sides built up with aluminum foil. Cover with a towel and let rise until doubled, 3 - 4 hours.

Heat the oven to 400 degrees F. Bake 10 minutes. Reduce the heat to 375 degrees F and bake 40 - 50 minutes. If the top starts to get too brown, cover it with aluminum foil. Cool completely in the mold and then unmold onto a rack.

In the drawing the the book Carol seemed to decorate the top with sliced dates but I sprayed it with a bit of oil and sprinkled with sanding sugar before it went into the oven.

This makes a wonderfully fragrant and impressive loaf similar in shape to a pannettone. I think I rolled the top layer too thin.

You can see in the photos that even before it rose there were little holes and once it was baked you can see all the places the walnuts peek through. Some of the brown sugar came through and was deeply caramelized, too.

I found that most of the bottom of the loaf was just plain bread without the dates and nuts so the next time I would probably roll up the sealed dough layer like a jelly roll and put it in the pan as a wreath just so the fruit and nuts would be distributed throughout. If made with laminated dough this would be far flakier and buttery and a whole 'nuther beast so maybe then the ball with ends pinched under would work great. Might have to try that!


  1. Elle!
    Love your latest picture in blog header! what a nice collection!

  2. What a gorgeous loaf! Hooray that you can tackle the stairs. I'm so glad you're feeling a bit better!

  3. Oh, that looks (and sounds) wonderful.... Walnut bread is perfect with foie gras, BTW. And goat cheese....

  4. Emily, Thanks. The header is of a room in the kitchen of Filoli in Atherton...wish it was my collection.

    Lynn, Thanks for your good wishes. It does feel great to be more mobile.

    Katiez, Would not have thought of foie gras but I bet it would be lovely with it. Wish I liked goat cheese, but bet it would be great with a good aged cheddar, too.