Sunday, September 26, 2010

French Walnut Bread

This is a super easy, sinfully simple bread to make. It comes straight from Kneadlessly Simple. In fact, I'm not sure I did make it. The bread makes itself! All I did was mix flour, sugar, salt, yeast, water and walnuts. A day and half later, I had bread. Amazing.

This bread is earthy, nutty-tasting, and is great with butter, goat cheese, any cheese really. Half the flower is whole wheat. The crust is crisp but not as crisp as the crust in the Peasant Style Pot bread or Almost No Knead bread. And it did not get the beautiful round dome shape that other breads get. I performed all the requisite steps. In fact, it rose but not as much, and it came out a little flat. Not deflated but flat. I suspect the crispiness and dome eluded me because this recipe did not require the Dutch oven (or other pot) to be preheated in the oven.

Anyone else make this bread with the same result?

This bread makes great toast and goes well with curried carrot soup. Perfect for cooler fall weather and sharing with friends. Break bread with your friends. They'll love you even more than they already do.

This is my second Kneadlessly Simple recipe and I have to say that I still prefer the almost no knead bread. I think it has better flavor and crust, and if you can believe it, is easier to make and takes less time.

Yield: 1 large loaf, 12 to 14 slices

- 2 c whole wheat flour, plus extra as needed
- 2 c unbleached all-purpose white flour or white bread flour
- 1 tsp granulated sugar
- 2 tsp table salt
- 3/4 tsp instant yeast, fast-rising, or bread machine yeast
- 2 c ice water, plus more if needed
- Walnut oil or flavorless vegetable oil for coating dough top and baking pot
- 1 1/2 c fresh, fine-quality walnut halves

First Rise: In a large bowl, thoroughly stir together the whole wheat and white flour, sugar, salt, and yeast. Vigorously stir in the water, scraping down the bowl and mixing until the dough is well blended and smooth. If the mixture is too dry to incorporate all the flour, a bit at a time, stir in just enough more water to blend the ingredients; don't over-moisten, as the dough should be very stiff (it's stiff if you find it difficult to stir). Brush or spray the top with oil. Tightly cover the bowl with plastic wrap. If desired, for best flavor or for convenience, you can refrigerate the dough for 3 to 10 hours. Then let rise at cool room temperature for 12 to 18 hours.

Meanwhile, reserve 4 perfect walnut halves for garnish. Spread the remainder on a baking sheet and lightly toast, stirring several times, in a preheated oven for 325 degrees F for 10 to 15 minutes, or until fragrant and just lightly browned. Let cool. Chop finely (in a food processor, if desired).

Second Rise: Vigorously stir the cooled walnuts into the dough. Note: This was extremely challenging; the nuts were not spread uniformly throughout the dough. If it is not stiff, stir in enough more whole wheat flour to make it hard to stir. Using an oiled rubber spatula, lift and fold the dough in towards the center, working all the way around the bowl. Invert it into a well-oiled, then flour-dusted, 3-quart (or larger) heavy metal pot (or use a flat-bottomed round casserole with a lid). Brush or spray the top with oil, then smooth out the surace with an oiled rubber spatula or fingertips. Cut 1/2-inch-deep slashes to from an X in the center top; well-oiled kitchen shears work best. Put the 4 untoasted walnut halves in the angles of the X for garnish; press down very firmly to imbed them. Cover the pot with its lid.

Let Rise Using Any of These Methods: For a 1 1/2- to 2 1/2-hour regular rise, let stand at warm room temperature; for a 1- to 2-hour accelerated rise, let stand in a turned-off microwave along with 1 cup of boiling-hot water; or for an extended rise, refrigerate 4 to 24 hours, then set out at room temperature. Continue until the dough doubles from its deflated size.

Baking Preliminaries: 15 minutes before baking time, place a rack in the lower third of the oven; preheat to 400 degrees F. Lightly dust the dough top with whole wheat flour.

Baking: Bake on the lower rack, covered, for 45 minutes. Remove the lid and continue baking for 20 to 30 minutes, or until the top is well-browned and a skewer inserted in the thickest part comes out with just a few particles clinging to the bottom. Then bake for 5 to 10 minutes more to ensure the center is done (if the particles are moist then definitely bake longer). Cool in the pan on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Remove the loaf to the rack, running a knife around the edges to loosen if necessary (I used parchment instead of the oil and flour method -- this has typically not worked for me).

Serving and Storing: The loaf tastes and slices best at room temperature. Cool completely before storing airtight in plastic or foil. The bread will keep at room temperature for up to 3 days, and may be frozen, airtight, for up to 2 months.


Katerina said...

This is the right bread for me. If it makes itself then I can do it easily. I love also what's inside it.

Rita said...

I make bread using my bread machine all the time, but bake it in the oven; never had the courage to try the no knead bread, but this looks so good and nrustic.

Simply Life said...

oh my, this bread looks amazing!

Dr.Sameena Prathap

Hi Nirmala,

yummy walnut bread...great description!!lovely presentation..


Barbara said...

Gosh, I am so old-fashioned! I've never tried a no-knead bread. Everyone seems to have such success with them too.
I bet the walnuts in your bread taste divine with a sharp cheese!
A lovely loaf, Nirmala!

Joanne said...

I have to say, good no-knead breads are HARD to find! I love the sound of this one. Walnut breads are a serious favorite of mine.

Stella said...

Nice, Nirmala! There is nothing like an easy bread that actually turns out like bread (smile). The walnuts sound tempting too. Me wants a piece with goat cheese schmeared on it;)

Nirmala said...

Rita -- no knead recipes are great! They work around your schedule which is what I need because I work full time! I recommend the Almost No Knead Bread as a good place to start.

Barbara -- I wish I had time for "regular" breads. The n kneads work around my schedule which is why I make them.

Thanks for stopping by everyone!

Pam said...

It looks lovely! There is nothing better than fresh baked bread.

Chow and Chatter said...

very cool love no knead bread used to make it alot but hubby didnt like it sob

Adriana said...

looks super delicious!

My kitchen skills said...

Yummy walnut bread...

♥peachkins♥ said...

nice looking bread!

Design Wine and Dine said...

Yum, this bread looks great! I love homemade breads and the walnuts make it even more tempting! Love you idea od serving it along carrot soup!

natural selection said...

The food pairings you suggested with this bread are outstanding! I have been seeing much people around the blogs preparing breads themselves and this is a great news!

Its next to impossible to find "real" bread nowadays as far as the regular commuter is concerned; all made with super refined flour and product.

This is a great way to make in advance and enjoy throughout the week!
This blog is really great!


Xiaolu @ 6 Bittersweets said...

Mm mm -- I really like my breads to be hearty and with some texture to them. This looks just right for me.

Julie M. said...

Even if it isn't as good as the almost no knead bread, it still looks super tasty. I love the marbling in it. Bring on the bread and butter!

Liz said...

I love walnuts - this seems like a great bread to try!


Nirmala~ I wish you would just come to my house and bake bread every week! Your breads are amazing and I always think tastes better when someone ELSE has made it!

Tasha said...

Its a shame I'm a lazy baker, because this sounds so wonderful. I would love it paired with your yummy sounding carrot soup.

Lawyer Loves Lunch said...

Love love love the layers in this! Your bread baking skills are so awesome, you should totally teach a class :)

Foodessa said...

Nirmala...the mention of walnuts got my interest. Everything sounds so incredibly tasty. I'm sorry to read that the results were not to your expectations. I'm sure the taste was very pleasing indeed ;o)

Flavourful wishes,