Walnut Bread

Pain aux noix

Preparation info

  • Difficulty

    Medium

  • Makes

    2

    round loaves

Appears in

Making Bread at Home

Making Bread at Home

By Tom Jaine

Published 2005

  • About

Some people might claim that the most important nut to breadmaking is the chestnut: it was once the staple for many people living in south-western France and was itself turned into flour for making a sort of bread. It still is called le pain de bois - bread of the woods.

The walnut may never have been turned into a loaf, but it has ornamented many, for its rich and seasoned flavour seems to complement the taste of grains - be they wheat or rye. And walnut bread, sometimes sweetened, as here, with raisins or sultanas, is a perfect foil for strong cheese.

This wholemeal loaf is enriched with egg and milk, as well as the filling of nuts and dried fruit. The dough should be quite moist; wholemeal has a tendency to dry out. Remember, too, that wholemeal performs best if it kept warm through the whole process, from mixing to final proof.

Ingredients

  • 450 g/1 lb wholemeal bread flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 30 g/1 oz fresh yeast
  • 225 ml/8 fl oz milk at 43°C/110°F
  • 1 egg
  • 120 g/4 oz chopped walnuts
  • 60 g/2 oz raisins or sultanas, warmed slightly
  • 1 egg mixed with 2 tablespoons of milk for glaze

Method

  1. In a warmed large mixing bowl, combine the flour and salt. Make a well in the centre and crumble the yeast into it. Pour on the warmed milk and mix with your finger to dissolve the yeast and incorporate a little flour. Whisk the egg and add to the liquid. Sweep with your hand round and round the bowl to progressively incorporate all the dry flour, then mix to a dough. When it leaves the sides of the bowl, turn on to a floured work surface and knead for 8 minutes.
  2. Flatten the dough on the work surface and scatter the nuts and fruit over the dough. Press them into it with your fingers, then fold the dough up and place in a bowl. Cover with oiled clingfilm and leave to rise in a warm place (26°C/80°F) for about 1½ hours, until doubled in size.
  3. Turn out the dough on to the lightly floured work surface, knock back lightly and divide in two. Gently mould each piece into a ball. Place on warmed, oiled baking trays and cover with oiled clingfilm to guard against skinning. Leave to prove, well out of any draughts, at between 26°C/80° F and 29°C/85°F. Meanwhile, heat the oven to 220°C/425°F/gas 7.
  4. When the loaves are ready (they should no longer spring back when you prod them with a floured finger), brush them both with the glaze and bake for about 35 minutes, exchanging the top loaf for the one at the bottom of the oven halfway through the cooking time. Cool on wire racks.