Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Wednesdays and Bread Baking Babes Walnut Bread

It's always difficult for me to post on time when the reveal for the monthly Bread Baking Babes challenge falls on the third Wednesday of the month. I have a regular scholarship group meeting that day and it pretty much takes up the whole day. Today I have the added challenge of getting ready for Sweetie's birthday tomorrow, so this post is later than I would like.

That said, this is a wonderful, wonderful bread Thank you Elizabeth of Blog from OUR kitchen, our awesome Kitchen of the Month, for choosing it. Your mother-in-law was looking out for us all in some way since the book this recipe came from was hers.

Imagine a moist, slightly dense, chewy, grainy bread with wonderful flavor and large pieces of walnut in almost every bite. If you love walnuts, this bread will win you over in no time. It is also pretty easy to make and looks very artisan when you are done...your family will be impressed. It makes great toast and is lovely with cheese (I'm told) and for sandwiches. Although it didn't last long enough for me to try this, I think it would make delicious croutons for butternut squash soup.

Do check out what the other Bread Baking Babes have baked. The best way is to check out the Bread Baking Babes Facebook page. Also, to become a Buddy, bake this bread by March 26th and send Elizabeth an e-mail and photos so she can send you a Buddy badge and include you in the round-up.

BBB Auberge Walnut Bread
based on recipes for Le Pain de Noix in Auberge of the Flowering Hearth by Roy Andries de Groot and Pane di Noci in The Italian Baker by Carol Field 
makes 2 loaves

253g walnut halves, divided
    200g (2 c) whole walnut halves
    53g (0.66 c) walnut halves, finely chopped
420g (1.75 c) boiling water
2 tablespoons yogurt
36g (2.5 Tbsp) non dairy butter
12g kosher salt (2 tsp table salt)
0.5g (0.25 tsp) powdered ginger
84g (4 Tbsp) dark honey
635g flour
    250g unbleached all-purpose flour
    25g King Arthur Flour 9-grain blend
    360g King Arthur Flour Irish wholemeal flour
29g (0.25 c) wheat germ
60g (0.25 c) water at ~98F
6g (2 tsp) active dry yeast
soy milk to brush on top of the loaves - about 1 teaspoon
Note: additional all-purpose flour will be needed for kneading

  1. Walnuts: In the morning of the day you plan to bake the bread, spread the walnut halves in a single layer on a cookie sheet and toast them in a 400F oven for 8-10 minutes. Watch them carefully so they don't burn! They're done just at the moment you begin to smell them. Set aside 200g (2 c) onto a plate to cool. Using a very sharp knife, finely chop the other 53g to produce about 2/3 cup.
  2. Mixing the dough: Pour just-boiled water into a large mixing bowl. Whisk in yogurt. Immediately add nondairy butter, honey, salt and powdered ginger and whisk until the fat has melted and the honey is incorporated.
  3. Add flours, wheat germ and finely chopped walnuts (de Groot suggests grating them(!)) on top of one side of the large bowl.
  4. Warm the water for rehydrating the yeast to around 98F, a little over body temperature. Or are you allergic to a thermometer? Heat it until it's the temperature safe to feed to a baby: a few drops on the inside of your wrist feels warm but not hot. If it's too hot, add cold water. (Tap water is okay, but please do NOT use water from the hot-water tap! You don't know how long things other than water have been festering in the bottom of that tank.) Pour the warmed water into a small bowl and add the yeast. Whisk until the yeast has dissolved. Check to make sure that the milk mixture is not above body temperature (do the baby-bottle test on the inside of your wrist again) and then add the yeasted water to the milk mixture. Stir everything together with a wooden spoon to created a rough dough.
  5. Kneading: Knead in the bowl (or use your electric mixer's instructions for kneading) until the dough is smooth, "elastic and no longer sticky".
  6. Proofing: Cover the bowl with a plate and allow to proof in a draft-free area (oven with only the light turned on is ideal) until the dough has doubled.
  7. Prepare the pans: Cover cookie sheets with parchment paper.
  8. Walnuts and Shaping: Turn dough out onto a lightly floured board and divide in two. Roll each piece into a ball. Cover with a clean tea towel and allow to rest for 20 minutes. After their rest, flatten each ball into a disc and even divide the rest of the walnut halves on top, "pressing the nuts in slightly", then roll each piece of dough to form a log. Joining the ends to make a ring, place each log seam side down on the parchment paper. Cover with a tea towel and allow to rise in a draft-free area until the rings have almost doubled.
  9. Baking: Preheat oven to 375F. Just before putting the bread in the oven, spray the tops liberally with water. Put the bread into the oven and immediately turn the thermostat down to 350F. After 35 minutes, brush the tops of the loaves with soy milk and continue baking for about 10 more minutes until the loaves are nicely browned and have reached an internal temperature between 200F and 210F (the bread sounds hollow when knuckle-rapped on the bottom). Remove the bread from the oven.
  10. Cooling and Finishing: Allow the bread to completely cool on a footed rack before cutting into it. It's still baking inside! If you have a partner like mine he doesn't care and the first slice will not be nearly as nice as the ones you cut after the bread cools. I think it was even better the next day and it was still good 5 days later.
  11. Of course you may want to serve warm bread: reheat it after it has cooled completely. To reheat and/or rejuvenate UNsliced bread, turn the oven to 400F for 5 minutes or so. Turn the oven OFF. Put the bread in the hot oven for ten minutes.
~~~~~end of the recipe~~~~~

Carol Field suggests baking the bread in a greased ring-mould, putting a few strategically placed walnut halves in the bottom of the pan before putting the shaped bread in, so that when the bread is overturned, the walnuts will create an attractive design on top of the loaf. I considered adding that instruction but didn't want to miss out on trying the milk wash near the end of baking.


  1. Oh wow, that loaf is chock full of walnuts. Beautiful!

  2. You are right! It looks so artisan yet it's quite easy (and tasty!). Love your shaped bread =)

  3. Your bread is beautiful!! I love the loft you got. I also love that you used all the walnuts, instead of chickening out and halving them the way I did.

    And you're right, if there was any left, this bread would be good as croutons for butternut squash soup!

  4. Lots of walnuts - I agree. Beautiful loaf!

  5. Well done in managing all, time flies by so fast! Great bread, love those chuncky walnut pieces in those slices of bread!

  6. Wow ... but then you always seem to come through.
    I managed most all the walnuts and I'll aim for all the next time, they are just so perfect in this one. Glorious loaf!