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Walnut Sourdough Bread
(Pain au Levain with Walnuts)

Due to the cost of walnuts, we never made this Sourdough Walnut crumb shotbread in our bakery, it was just a "home bread", which means I haven't made this bread in over 15 years - until last week!  It was breathtakingly good!  Especially toasted with cream cheese!

Sourdough Walnut with Cream CheeseThis is a delightful, earthy, bread. We've used it for making toast, grilled cheese sandwiches, we've enjoyed it with preserves, with cheese, smeared with cream cheese (as seen on the left) and even by itself. I've made this recipe as a boule, baguette and pan loaf and it has been wonderful regardless of shape.

This recipe started out as a recipe from "Bread Alone" by Daniel Leader.

This recipe is for two 1 1/2 pound loaves you may shape however you prefer.  Ingredients:

Volumetric Measure (Cups)IngredientGramsBaker's Percentage (4)
1 1/2 CupsWalnut Pieces170 Grams29.6%
1 1/2 CupsActive Sourdough Starter350 Grams61.6%
2 CupsWater480 Grams64%
3 1/2 CupsBread Flour430 Grams75%
1 1/8 CupsWhole Wheat Flour140 Grams25%
1 1/3 TBSP Salt11.6 Grams
2%

Method:

Preheat your oven to 350F175C. Arrange the walnuts on a baking sheet in a single layer. Bake them, stirring from time to time, until the walnuts are fragrant and lightly toasted. This takes about 10 - 12 minutes in my oven. WARNING - if you burn the walnuts, even a little, don't use them in this recipe! Burned walnuts are nasty!

Put about half the toasted walnuts into a food processor with 2 TBSP of flour. Pulse the nuts and flour in the processor until they are finely ground. Coarsely crush the remaining walnuts. Set aside, and let the walnut flour and the crushed nuts cool.

If you are kneading the dough, whether by hand or machine, mix the starter Walnut Sourdough nutritional analysisand water, add 1 cup of flour and mix. Add the salt, the finely ground walnuts you tossed with flour, and just enough of the remaining flour to make a thick mass that is difficult to stir.

Turn out the dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead for around 5 minutes, let the dough rest 5 minutes, and then knead for another 5 minutes.  The dough should be firm and smooth.  Add flour sparingly, but as needed.

Add the broken up walnuts a bit at a time and knead in until the dough is again smooth, another 5 to 7 minutes.

Shape the dough into a ball, place in a lightly oiled mixing bowl, turn the dough, and cover with a shower cap. Allow to rise in a warm place until doubled in size.

If you are using the stretch and fold technique, put the starter, water, flour, salt, and the walnuts you ground and mixed with flour into a tray.  Mix until all the flour is wet.  Cover and let rest an hour.  Stretch and fold, cover and let rest an hour.  Stretch and fold a second time, cover and let rest another hour.  Stretch and fold a third time, cover and let rest for a final hour.

Whether you kneaded or stretched and folded, gently deflate the dough, transfer to a floured work surface and knead briefly. Divide into two equal pieces, form the pieces into balls, cover and let rest for 1/2 hour.

Shape the loaves as you prefer, and let them rise again, probably around two hours.

Preheat the oven to 450F, which should take 45 minutes to an hour with stones in the oven.  Put a disposable pie pan in the bottom, or floor, of the oven.

When the oven is ready, slash the loaves and slide them into the oven. Put a cup or so of hot water into the pie pan you placed on the bottom of the oven. Then let the loaves bake about 40 to 45 minutes.  Hint - you don't want to put the water directly on the oven floor.  This leads to warping and rust.  In states where you are expected to sell your refrigerator, range and oven with the house, this can be an issue when you sell your home.

Enjoy!

2 thoughts on “Walnut Sourdough Bread”

  1. Hi Mike!

    Like a lot of people, I seemed to have jumped head first into sourdough baking during quarantine, and thanks to your site I have been enjoying a decent amount of success from my experiments! I have to say though that this dough was not the firm dough you described but rather wet and soft, but still worked and rose beautifully as a boule shape as long as I was careful in my handling of it. My family LOVED the flavor of it, and the addition of cream cheese to the bread was made even better with a bit of homemade fig jelly (figs and walnuts are a match made in heaven in my opinion!). Anyway, thank you for sharing this recipe!

    1. Hi Miranda,
      Many thanks for the kind words. Sadly, it’s been some time since I revisited that recipe. So many breads, so little time!

      I’ll have to make it again and see what happens.

      Best wishes,
      Mike

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