Walnut sourdough bread

 

For this year’s annual Christmas lunch get-together, I contributed the starter. With a main course of venison stew, I opted for a puy lentil, parsnip and walnut salad with walnut sourdough bread. It proved to be a winning combination, so I wanted to share both the walnut sourdough bread recipe and a link to the salad for a bit of festive lunch inspiration.

Walnut sourdough bread
Walnut sourdough bread

Out of all nuts, I love walnuts the most and this connection goes back a long way. Allow me to reminisce! Growing up in a small Austrian village, my grandparents had an old mighty walnut tree in their garden. With a trunk measuring a good two metres in circumference, the tree had been there for many decades.

In the summer, its strong branches and plentiful leaves provided shade to playful afternoons, the sunlight creating magical patterns. In the autumn, when the tree dropped its first fruits (still green and earthy), I would get excited about the nuts being ripe. As soon as they were ready for picking, I relished cracking them open and enjoying the delicate and moist walnuts. So fresh, I was able to simply rub off the skin.

Tasting walnuts as fresh as this – right from the tree and before they have been dried – is a truly unique taste experience!

Unfortunately, that tree was cut down many years ago and while some new walnut trees are growing nearby, none has been able to live up to this mighty old tree yet.

Walnut sourdough bread recipe

My walnut sourdough bread is a simple variation of my easy sourdough recipe. Walnuts are added after the initial rise.

Make sure you have a proving basket and La Cloche baking dome at the ready for an extra good-looking bake.

Walnut bread
Walnut bread

Sourdough

  • 30g starter
  • 50g wholemeal wheat flour
  • 50g water

Main dough

  • 100g of your new leaven
  • 400g white bread flour
  • 50g rye flour
  • 11g salt
  • 280g water
  • 100g walnuts, toasted in the oven for about 8 minutes

How to make walnut sourdough bread

Follow the instructions of my easy sourdough recipe and just add the toasted walnuts during step 6. Work the nuts into the dough until evenly distributed.

Puy lentil, parsnip and walnut salad recipe

To be found over at Jamie Oliver’s site… follow this link for the recipe.

Merry Christmas baking!

Grünkern bread recipe (green spelt grain)

 

Browsing the local delights of the Naturladen (organic shop) in my home town in Austria, I picked up a bag of Grünkern. The greenish grains looked pretty unique on the shelf! Grünkern are unripe spelt kernels harvested predominantly in Southern Germany. Although mainly used for soups and vegetarian burgers, I wanted to incorporate some of this unique grain in a sourdough Grünkern bread.

Grünkern sourdough
Grünkern sourdough

What is Grünkern?

Grünkern (German for ‘green kernel’) is spelt that has been harvested when half ripe (usually end of July) and then dried. Historically, harvesting spelt so early and before reaching full ripeness was a reaction to periods of adverse weather, which destroyed crops and resulted in poor harvests. It was a way to prevent crop failure.

Grünkern
Grünkern

The grains are harvested when the starch isn’t fully developed and the kernels are still soft and juicy at about 50% moisture content. Grains are dried over a beechwood fire or in hot air dryers – right down to a moisture content of 13%. Once dried, the outer husk is removed. Have a look at gruenkern.de for more information around the harvesting process, then and now.

The dried kernels smell aromatic and a little bit like fresh hay. The aroma remains uniquely pleasant and hearty when cooked with water, so it became a tradition to harvest a portion of the spelt as Grünkern. Grünkern doesn’t tend to be made into a flour; instead it is available as whole grains or chopped grains.

If this sounds similar to another grain, called Freekeh, then you are right. Freekeh is also harvested green, then roasted. The difference? Freekeh is made from green unripe durum wheat and dates back to the ancient regions of Egypt, Lebanon, Jordan and Syria while Grünkern is made from spelt and is still mainly produced in certain parts of Germany.

How Grünkern was made

Where to buy Grünkern in the UK?

I’ve only seen Grünkern on Amazon in the UK.

Grünkern bread recipe

This recipe uses Grünkern as whole kernels which are integrated into a wholemeal spelt sourdough loaf. Adding black treacle enhances the flavours, but you can easily leave out the treacle if you would like a purer version of spelt bread and a purer Grünkern flavour.

Grünkern bread
Grünkern bread

Ingredients

For the sourdough

For the Grünkern soaker

  • 175g Grünkern
  • 350g water

For the main dough

  • 220g spelt flour
  • 50g water
  • 14g salt
  • 1 tbsp malt extract

How to bake Grünkern bread

Day 1

  • Prepare the sourdough by combining your spelt starter with the spelt flour and water. Mix well in a bowl, cover with a lid and leave to stand at room temperature for 16 – 24 hours.
  • Combine Grünkern and water in a pan, cover and leave to soak overnight.

Day 2

  • Drain the Grünkern and bring to a boil in a pan with 350g water. Simmer over a low heat for about 15 minutes. Drain any remaining water.
  • In a large bowl, combine 440g of the sourdough (the remaining 25g go back into the fridge for your next bake) with the main dough ingredients.
  • Form a dough and knead for 10 minutes.
  • Add the Grünkern to the dough and knead until evenly distributed.
  • Place the dough back into the bowl, cover and leave to rest for 1 hour at room temperature.
  • Prepare a baking tin (23 x 11 x 9.5 cm) by lightly oiling it. I use a silicone brush to do that.
  • Place the dough into the tin and prove for 2 – 4 hours depending on the temperature in your room. The dough should rise visibly, filling the tin to the top.
  • Preheat the oven to 250°C.
  • Place the baking tin on the second layer from bottom up and bake for 15 minutes, then bake for a further 25 minutes at 180°C and a final 10 minutes outside the tin at 180°C.
  • Cool on a wire rack.
Grünkern spelt bread
Grünkern spelt bread