Friday, September 08, 2006

Walnut and Sultana Bread

As a cheese lover, the relationship between cheese and bread is an interesting one. Cheese really shouldn't be assigned to a fate topping that ubiquitous cracker which at times, can spoil the whole experience. One of my favourite matches for a strong cheese, like a blue is a walnut bread, studded with meaty chunks of walnut this offers a counterpoint to the intense flavours.

In this bread I'm making today I'll be using spelt flour - I've used it before when I made focaccia. It's a lovely textured flour that gives the dough an appealing chocolate tinge.

Spelt is an ancient species of wheat and you should be able to find it at specialist stores - here in Melbourne, Macro Wholefoods in Richmond sells it in bulk! If you can't find Spelt, use any strong whole-wheat flour.

Besides using walnuts I'll also add sultanas - the sweetness from them just gives the bread another level of flavour and works wonderfully well with blue cheese. It will also partner with a strong goat cheese, gruyere and an oozing triple cream camembert. If you're not too fond of sultanas, try using dried figs.

bread

Walnut and Sultana Bread

300 grams Spelt Flour
1 teaspoon yeast
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon honey
1 teaspoon walnut oil (or olive oil)
250mls tepid water
100 grams walnuts
100 grams sultanas

Place the honey and yeast in a small bowl and at 50mls of the tepid water. Stir to combine and let sit in a warm place for 5 minutes to make sure the yeast is active.

Sift the salt with the flour and add to the bowl of a mixer fitted with a dough hook. Add the activated yeast and oil and begin to mix - add the rest of the water 50mls at a time. You may find you don't need to add all the water or you may need to add more water - this will just depend on the flour. Stop adding water when it's just about fully mixed then continue on a slow speed until a soft smooth dough forms. Naturally enough, you can do this my hand if you so desire.

Add the sultanas to the bowl and mix until they are well spread through the dough. Remove the dough and place it on a lightly dusted board. Flatten it out, sprinkle with walnuts and begin to knead them into the dough - doing it this way rather than adding it to the machine means that the walnuts won't break up as much.

Once this is dough form into a ball and place on a baking sheet. Rub the surface with a little olive oil and make a few decorative slashes across the top. Leave it in a warm place to rise. You won't be needing to knock this back after it rises - it goes straight in the oven.

dough

Pre-heat the oven to 200°C/390°C.

Place the loaf into the oven and cook until golden and it feels hollow when tapped. This should take about 30 minutes. If you think it's browning too quickly, drop the temperature back to 180°C/350°F.

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Cool on a wire rack.

bread

Cutting the loaf you'll see that chocolate tinge in the dough and a good spread of sultanas and walnuts. This is perfectly fine to just toast and eat as is or get hold of some good cheese and taste the difference for yourself.

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7 comments:

  1. I love bread making. Your bread looks delicious. I will test soon.

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  2. Thanks Zorra - let me know how this turns out for you!

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  3. That is some great looking bread.

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  4. i can't get spelt... if replacing normal bread flour, should i make any adjustments?

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  5. Hi Heather - there's no other adjustments to make if you use normal bread flour apart from the normal variance when dealing with water.

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  6. "normal variance", hehe. thanks for writing back so soon. i was just double checking the recipe again!

    okey, this shows my baking newbie-ness. if replacing spelt with normal bread flour, i'm guessing you must decrease the water by X amount. (not increase).

    i started mixing the dough (no dough mixer here) adding in the water 50mls at a time. but it still looked dry... so i added it *all*. but, a few quick kneads and it was very very sticky wet dough. so i 'kneaded' it with a spoon and brute force for about 10 mins. it started to look glossy, and stringy and consistent, and pull away from sides of bowl.

    so i'm thinking, maybe i should have used less water!

    okay... so i added in chopped figs, and used my flour dusted hands to incorporate some more flour as i kneaded. then i added the walnuts. it is very soft stringy dough.

    i shaped it into a log loaf, and it is rising as i write this. i dusted with flour, instead of brushing with oil... only because i had forgotten to write that down when i copied the recipe down. *oops*

    i love your site here... i also have trouble finding good resources in grams for baking, since many sites are from the US. this is very handy.

    if i can try this recipe again, could you add in roughly how long it should be kneaded for? or notes about the texture of the dough (then i know when to stop kneading maybe). or also how long it should rise for? till double? nearly double?

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