Wednesday, March 16, 2016

BBB Auberge Walnut Bread

I'll admit this beautiful loaf caused me some frustration.  Not because it was difficult to make, but because it had a streak of lemming in it.  But sometimes you just have to suck it up and realize that everyone has had a baked good take a swan dive at least once.  Oh and if you haven't, don't be smug, it will happen eventually!  Some very unladylike words made it out of my mouth when that thing did a back flip off the peel.  I guess I was loud enough in my proclamations of calamity that hubby came running down the stairs to find out if I was okay.  Yes.  No.  Damn it, now I'm going to have to make another one.  There is no way I am putting a broken loaf on my post.  Well, at least not for the main picture.  I have to include it at least because misery loves company right?  Maybe at the very end of the post.

The next one came out beautifully, though I did take a few liberties with the second batch.  I decided to add some chopped deglet noor dates to the filling, and I used muscovado sugar instead of honey because I am almost out of honey.  I also stuck with the water and powdered milk instead of scalding milk as I did for the first batch.  I did use the powdered whole goat milk at least.  Feel free to use scalded milk in place of the water and milk powder in this bread.  Oh, and I think I added a big spoonful of sourdough starter just for the heck of it, while reducing the water.

It really turned out pretty!  The whole milk made a nice subtle glaze.  This recipe makes 2 large loaves and I reduced the recipe by half to make only one.  I loved hearing about the memories in the perfume infused cookbook from which it came.  Our host kitchen this month, Elizabeth of blog from OUR kitchen, remembered that her father in law used to have an orchard of walnuts up until recently.  If you have a love of walnuts, please bake along with us!  I think you could even get away with pecans, that would be fabulous.  If you do bake it, take a picture, post about it and email your results to our host kitchen before the 29th and you will be included in the Buddy round up.

Walnut Wholewheat 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

2 cups walnut halves, toasted
2/3 cup walnuts, toasted, grated or finely chopped
1¾ cups very hot water (or use same amount scalded milk and omit milk powder)
½ cup skim milk powder (I used whole goat's milk powder, second batch)
2½ Tbsp butter
2 tsp sea salt
¼ tsp powdered ginger
4 Tbsp dark honey
~5 c flour (the original recipe called for 3c white bread and 3 c whole wheat but that seemed like too much. We switched to the equivalent of 2c white and 3c whole wheat.)  (I used 33% each sprouted spelt, white spelt and all purpose flour)
¼ cup water at ~98ºF2 tsp active dry yeast
1 tbsp milk or cream for brushing during baking

Whisk together the milk powder and hot water.  Add in the butter, honey, salt and powdered ginger and whisk until the butter has melted and the honey is incorporated.  Add flours and chopped walnuts.  Rehydrate the yeast in the ¼ cup lukewarm water.  Make sure that the milk mixture has cooled to no more than body temperature and mix in the dissolved yeast.  Stir it all together with a wooden spoon to make a rough dough.

Knead by hand or with a stand mixer until the dough is smooth, elastic and no longer sticky.  (I left mine just slightly sticky.)

Cover the bowl and allow to proof in a draft-free area until the dough has doubled.

Line two cookie sheets with parchment paper.

Preheat oven to 375ºF.

Turn out the dough onto a lightly floured board and divide in two. Roll each piece into a ball. Cover and allow to rest for 20 minutes. After resting, flatten each ball into a rectangular disc and evenly divide the walnut halves on top, pressing the nuts in slightly.  Roll each piece of dough to form a log. Join the ends to make a ring and place each log seam side down on the parchment paper. Cover and allow to rise in a draft-free area until the rings have almost doubled.  (First batch I followed these directions, second batch, I made a round disk and poked a wooden spoon through the middle to make a hole, then gently widened the hole.  Then I realized I couldn't exactly roll up the walnuts like a log.  So I flattened it again, keeping the hole in the middle, sprinkled on the walnuts and chopped dates this time and folded up the outside edges into the middle and sealed.  I ended up with a prettier ring, but less evenly dispersed filling.)  One suggestion is to place the loaf in a ring mold with walnuts along the bottom.  I pressed raw walnut halves firmly into the top of my ring before it rose and that worked beautifully.  They toast in the oven.

Just before putting the bread in the oven, spray the tops liberally with water. Put the bread into the oven and immediately turn the temp down to 350ºF. After 30 minutes, brush the tops of the loaves with milk or cream, then continue baking for about 10 more minutes until the loaves are nicely browned and have reached an internal temperature of 200-210ºF (the bread should sound hollow when tapped on the bottom). Remove the bread from the oven.
Allow the bread to cool completely on a wire rack before cutting into it.

This bread is dying for a spread of soft cheese and maybe a small slice of quince jam.

Oh, and do be careful when taking the bread out to glaze it because I swear it wants to try out for the Olympic diving team...


  1. I love that you decorated the top of your loaves with walnut halves! It really makes the bread look even more beautiful.

    I'm so sorry to hear about the loaf that got away (but you didn't need to bake again! ha! that's what photoshop is for...). ;-)

    Mmmm, I bet the added dates are delicious!

    And you're right; everyone has had similar calamities. The most spectacular one in my memory was when I was about 12 and we were all in the kitchen doing Christmas baking. Mum had just pulled the big Christmas fruitcake out of the oven - she was struggling to remove the largest one from its pan (a beautiful stainless steel 10 inch square drop-bottom pan). Holding the pan sides, she turned to us to exclaim that the cake would NOT come out. Suddenly, just as she was walking over to the kitchen table, the cake whooshed out and crashed to the floor. Mum did NOT make the cake again. Instead, she said, "Thank goodness the floor is clean." Then we helped her scoop up the hot cake, shove it back into the pan and pour brandy over-top to seal it together. Amazingly, the cake held together that year, even after slicing it. Or at least it held together until each unsuspecting guest took a piece from the fancy china platter on the table and watched in amazement as it crumbled in her hands.

  2. I love how well rounded your loaf looks! And I do love your storytelling... Ever heard of the naked pizza? Picture one wide-eyed son in front of the oven with the pizza bottom upside down on the floor next to the upside down topping, still remarkably in round shape. Or that time when the pot full of cooked pasta toppled in the sink... (table with 10 guests waiting) I scooped it out of the sink, back in the pan, sauced it and served it. (there is clean water going around in that sink at all times not?)

  3. Haha, you gals are great! It's nice to be able to look back and laugh later on. Though my guilty admission is that neither my floors nor my sink would ever be in any state to be able to salvage something that fell on them. Well, at least not for guests! My family is pretty hardy though. ;)

  4. I have had a few escaped like that myself, especially when trying to place baguettes on a stone... parchment is my best friend now. Your loaf looks amazing and those walnuts on top are so perfect!

  5. Kelly, your loaf looks fabulous! The one that got away... That's too funny! Been there... and recently too!

  6. Been there / done that. Does make one want to scream.... But, your second attempt, with the walnuts on top and in the center is perfect!

  7. O yes we all have that every once in a while. I must say I admire your drive and bake another one just for the picture (and the pleasure of eating of course afterwards). I'd have just tied a ribbon on one break and slice some slices out of the other break. Your second loaf looks just perfect and you had the joy of eating two of these delicious loaves! Well done

  8. As yes my dear we all must have several of those stories or we haven't truly been tested yet. I think the one I remember best is a pudding like filling for a cake that splashed dramatically down a wall and over the floor. I remember it vividly because I took a photo and put it on the blog.
    Your bread is a beauty with those half walnuts! I'm a little regretting I baked mine in a loaf pan but I really wanted some sandwich slices.


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