I have mentioned bread baking in a previous post and we are now back from our week in France spent eating delicious baguette and artisan breads. While you can’t beat baguette made in France, I am excited about being able to make some of my own bread again. One of my current favourites is granary and walnut bread – it’s perfect with either cheese or jam, as bread when it’s fresh and as toast when it starts to dry out (as it does quite quickly because it doesn’t have any added flour improvers or preservatives). It’s also really simple to make:
500g granary bread flour
15g fresh yeast or 7.5g dried yeast
325ml warm water
100g chopped walnuts/pecan nuts
Mix the flour and salt. If using dried yeast add it to the flour and if using fresh yeast mix it with the warm water until it is dissolved. Add the liquid to the dry ingredients and combine using a knife. Turn onto a work surface and knead until completely homogenous, about 5-10 minutes. Put the dough into a greased glass bowl and leave it, covered with a tea towel, until doubled in size – about an hour or more depending on the room temperature.
Turn out onto a floured surface and add the walnuts or pecans. Knead the dough again so that all the nuts are incorporated evenly and when you prod the dough it springs back. Put it into a greased loaf tin or shape and place on a greased baking tray and leave to rise again – about 45 minutes or so, depending on the room temperature. For some reason I really like to make this particular bread in a loaf tin.
When the bread is ready, heat the oven to 250°C, put the bread in and immediately turn it down to 220°C. It should be done in about 20 minutes. You can test if it is done by turning it over and knocking on the bottom: if it sounds hollow it’s ready. Turn out onto a cooling rack and try to resist the temptation to finish the whole loaf before it is even cold. I like this bread best with homemade jam for breakfast, but more of that later!
You could also make this in a breadmaker if you don’t have the time or inclination to knead and rest it yourself, or using the dough hook in a food mixer. If you use a breadmaker you need to add the nuts at the point or in the manner your breadmaker requires.
As I have mentioned before, I find the whole process really therapeutic – I find if I am at all stressed before I start making bread, the stress starts to lift as I knead and the finished product is just so much better tasting (and better for you) than packaged bread. A lot of things these days are so instant that we have almost got used to not having to wait for anything. Bread will be ready in its own time and not before; there is not a huge amount you can do about it but wait until it is ready – probably a good life lesson too!