Walnut bread recipe in four variations

 

Having been home in Austria for Christmas, I brought back a big pack of shelled walnuts from the trees in my parents’ garden. A good time to experiment with walnut bread!

Walnut bread is a slightly sweet bread – a great accompaniment to cheese with grapes, apricots or figs.

Ingredients –

  • 350g strong white flour
  • 150g wholegrain rye flour
  • 15g Roggen Sauerteigextrakt (which I used as I didn’t have fresh sourdough to hand)
  • 7g easy-blend dried yeast
  • 1½ tsp salt
  • 280g water, lukewarm, if using the walnut paste (described below) / 350g water, lukewarm, for the other variations (as below) – it’s more accurate to weigh water
  • 1 tbsp walnut oil (optional)
  • 200g walnuts in either of the below variations (e.g. 100g lightly crushed walnuts, 100g walnut paste or 200g caramelised walnuts). Lightly crushing your walnut halves with a rolling pin makes it easier for the oils to be released into the dough.

Four different ways of preparing the walnuts –

Caramelised walnuts
Finely chop fresh rosemary leaves, you need 1 tbsp. Dry-roast the walnuts in a frying pan (i.e. without any oil). Add the finely chopped rosemary and 2 tbsp of honey and caramelise the walnuts. Be careful not to burn them. Let them cool down on a plate.

Mixed nuts with rum
From the book Rustikale Brote aus deutschen Landen by Gerhard Kellner.
For this recipe, you need 90g of walnut halves, lightly crushed, as well as 100g hazelnuts.
Dry-roast the hazelnuts in a frying pan (no oil). Pour over 35ml of lukewarm water once finished roasting. In a separate pan, dry-roast the walnuts and cover with 3 tbsp of rum.
Leave to soak overnight.

Walnuts soaked in milk
Heat some milk until boiling – you’ll need enough to cover the walnuts.
In a small bowl, cover the walnuts with boiling milk and leave to cool.
Once cooled, drain any excess liquid.

Walnut paste
As per Mitchell Beazley’s book ‘The handmade loaf’.
Make 100g walnut paste and also add 100g of halved or crushed walnuts into your final dough.
For the paste, you need 50g of walnuts, 50g of water, 2 tbsp of honey, 20g melted butter (lightly browned) and a pinch of salt.
Place all ingredients into the bowl of your hand blender and blend until you have a soft, smooth paste.

Walnut paste
Walnut paste – blended walnuts, water, honey, melted butter and a pinch of salt

How you’ll bake it (makes two loaves) –

  1. Combine the two flours, sourdough extract, salt and yeast in a bowl. Use a balloon whisk to combine well.
  2. Add water and the walnut oil (as well as the walnut paste if you are using it) to form a rough dough.
  3. Knead the dough for about 10 minutes until smooth and elastic.
  4. Shape into a ball, place in a lightly floured bowl, cover with a tea towel and leave in a warm place until doubled in size (approx. 1 hour).
  5. Punch down the dough, turn it out onto a floured surface and knead for 1 minute.
  6. Use your fingers to flatten the dough and sprinkle the (lightly crushed, caramelised or soaked) walnuts over the surface.
  7. Knead for a few more minutes to distribute the nuts evenly.
  8. Divide the dough into two parts.
  9. Pat each piece into a round shape and transfer to a baking sheet.
  10. Leave to rise for 1 hour.
  11. Preheat the oven to 200°C / Gas 6 for ½ hour.
  12. With a sharp knife, make a few criss-cross cuts into the loaves just before baking.
  13. Bake for about 45 minutes or until the loaves have a rich brown colour and sound hollow when tapped on the bottom.
  14. Transfer to a wire rack and leave to cool.
Walnut bread
Walnut bread made with walnut paste and crushed walnut halves
Walnut bread sliced
Just another quick photo before we dig in!