Walnut and Currant Loaf

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The walnut and currant loaf is best paired with some good cheese, where it can achieve true greatness. Ricotta and quince are also close friends. Releasing the natural oils by roasting the walnuts makes a big difference to this loaf.

Ingredients

Method

To roast the walnuts, cook them on a baking tray in a preheated 180°C (350°F/Gas 4) oven for about 7 minutes, or until golden. Allow to cool completely before adding to the dough.

To make the walnut and currant loaf, follow the instructions for mixing sourdough until you can create a window. Lightly mix in the combined walnuts, fruit soak and rye starter. You can do this by hand by lightly folding the ingredients through the dough until just combined, or simply add it to the bowl of an electric mixer and mix for 2–3 minutes on slow speed. Lightly grease a container with oil spray and sit the dough inside. Cover with plastic wrap and set aside at ambient room temperature (approximately 20°C/68°F) for 1 hour to bulk prove.

To knock back the dough, turn it out onto a lightly floured work surface and press out into a rectangle, about 2.5 cm (1 inch) thick. Use your hands to fold one-third back onto itself, then repeat with the remaining third. Turn the dough 90 degrees and fold it over again into thirds. Place the dough back into the oiled container and continue to bulk prove for a further 1 hour.

Use a blunt knife or divider to divide the dough into two even-sized portions, about 500 g (1 lb 2 oz) each. Working with one portion of dough at a time, continue to shape the loaves following the instructions for shaping a round loaf.

Line two small baskets with a tea towel (dish towel) in each, lightly dust both with flour and place a loaf inside each, seam side up. If you are using a traditional cane basket, you don’t need the tea towel and can simply dust the basket with flour. Alternatively, you can place the loaves on a baking tray lined with baking paper, seam side down. Place in the refrigerator loosely covered with a plastic bag for 8–12 hours.

Preheat the oven to its highest temperature. Remove the loaves from the refrigerator and let them rest in a humid place (25°C/77°F — this could take anywhere between 1 and 4 hours — until each loaf has grown in size by two-thirds. If the loaves push back steadily and quickly when you push lightly into them with a finger then they are ready. Score the loaves and place in the oven.

Spray the oven with water and reduce the temperature to 220°C (425°F/Gas 7). Bake the loaves for 20 minutes, then turn the loaves or trays around, and bake for a further 10 minutes, watching carefully to make sure that the loaves do not burn. Check the base of each loaf with a tap of your finger — if it sounds hollow, it is ready. Baking should take no longer than 40 minutes in total.