Walnut Sourdough Bread
(Pain au Levain with Walnuts)
Due to the cost of walnuts, we never made this bread 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!
This 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)||Ingredient||Grams||Baker's Percentage (4)|
|1 1/2 Cups||Walnut Pieces||170 Grams||29.6%|
|1 1/2 Cups||Active Sourdough Starter||350 Grams||61.6%|
|2 Cups||Water||480 Grams||64%|
|3 1/2 Cups||Bread Flour||430 Grams||75%|
|1 1/8 Cups||Whole Wheat Flour||140 Grams||25%|
|1 1/3 TBSP||Salt||11.6 Grams||2%|
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 and 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.
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.