If you ever get asked to bring bread to a party, this is the one to take! This is a slightly adapted Richard Bertinet recipe and is the perfect addition to a cheese board. It’s also delicious as bread or toast on its own.
The original recipe makes two ring shaped loaves: I chose to make one large and one small: one to take to the party and one as a tester to keep, but you could just make one large loaf.
400g strong white bread flour
100g dark rye flour
10g fresh yeast (if possible)
100g walnuts, crushed in pestle and mortar
100g chopped dates
Put the flours into a bowl. If using fresh yeast rub it in with your fingers and then add the salt. Otherwise add dried yeast and salt to the flour on different sides of the bowl.
Add the water and mix to a dough.
Turn out and knead for 5-10 minutes, until the dough is smooth and silky.
Put the dough into a greased bowl and cover. Allow to rise for around an hour, or until at least doubled in size.
Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and add the crushed walnuts and chopped dates.
Knead until the dates and walnuts are evenly incorporated.
At this point the dough can be divided into two, shaped into balls and left, covered with a tea towel for a further five minutes.
Reform the dough into tight balls and then press the end of a rolling pin into the centre of each ball until it makes a hole. Then open up the hole to form a ring. It needs to be at least fist sized or it will close up again when the dough rises:
If you are making one loaf you will want to make a larger hole than I did – mine closed up a lot more than I wanted it to!
Put on a floured baking tray and cover with a tea towel for around an hour, until nearly doubled in size. Set the oven to 220ºC.
You can make three cuts in the dough at equal points, although mine didn’t work out nearly as well as the picture in Richard Bertinet’s Dough.
Put your loaves in the oven and bake for 5 minutes at 220ºC. Then turn the oven down to 200ºC and bake for a further 15 minutes, until the loaves are well risen, brown and sound hollow when the base is tapped. Allow to cool on a wire rack.
I have been using an equivalent amount of fresh yeast in my dried yeast recipes based on conversion rates I have found (so about twice the weight in fresh as dried) but in a recipe using 10g salt I would normally use 7-10g dried yeast. I used 10g fresh yeast for this and it worked perfectly. Still haven’t got to the bottom of how to substitute one for the other: please let me know if you have any advice!
I made this to take to my friend Frin’s birthday party, along with some focaccia. The party was great – people took homemade food to add to the table so it was much more appetising and disappeared much more quickly than supermarket food. Happy Birthday Frin, thanks for a great party!