Walnut Bread

Pain au noix

Preparation info

    • Difficulty

      Easy

Appears in

Sud de France

By Caroline Conran

Published 2012

  • About

Mix the flour and yeast in a bowl then work in the water. Beat it to a smooth cream with a whisk. Cover the bowl and leave to rise in a moderately warm place (23–25°C). Let it ferment for 1½ hours.

Ingredients

To Make the Leaven Starter (Levain)

  • 35 g white bread flour
  • a 7g packet - 2 leveltsp - dried instant yeast
  • 100 ml water

    Method

    Dissolve the salt in the water. Put both the flours in a large bowl and mix them together thoroughly. Make a well in the centre and pour in the levain. Gradually add the water, mixing it in with one hand, making a sticky mixture. Keep 20g or so of white flour for sprinkling on the worktop a little at a time, when you knead the bread. Keep adding flour until you can just make a flattened sort of ball with the loose-feeling, stretchy dough. It should have a lively, springy feel to it. Knead for 10 minutes.

    When the dough is smooth and silky, place it in an oiled bowl, roll it round in the oil and cover it with cling film. Leave in a warm place for 2–3 hours or in a cold place for 4–5 hours or overnight. If the latter, allow it to warm up again to room temperature and swell a bit more before proceeding – in either case it should rise to double its original size.

    Heat the oven to 220°C – heat it up well ahead of time to achieve a good solid heat.

    To shape the loaves, place the dough on a floured worktop and spread on a handful of chopped walnuts. Fold the dough over and spread again; keep doing this until all the walnuts are incorporated. Cut the dough in half and either make freehand loaves or loaves in tins.

    To make freehand loaves, oval or round, draw the edges of the cut side of each piece of dough together and place on a baking sheet (that has been sprinkled with fine polenta) with this seam underneath, to give the top some tension. Cover with a cloth and a sheet of cling film and allow to rise in a nicely warmed place to almost double in size. Keep out of draughts. When the loaves have risen, slash the tops 3 times with a very sharp knife before placing in the preheated oven.

    If you would rather make the bread in tins, oil two 600g loaf tins. Tuck the sides of each piece of dough underneath, tuck each end under also and drop the moulded dough into the tin, rounded side upwards. Cover with cling film as before and leave to prove for about an hour, or until the dough has risen almost to the top of the tins. Do not allow draughts. Place in the preheated oven.

    A third alternative is to make miches. These are the round loaves, for example of pain de campagne, that are proved (upside down) in bannetons, round willow baskets lined with linen (available from Poilane shops). You will also need large cazuelas, terracotta paella pans, to bake them in.

    Divide the dough in two as before. Sprinkle the insides of two bannetons liberally with maize flour. Form nice balls of dough by tucking the sides underneath and place them, rounded side down, in the baskets. Cover loosely with a cloth and leave to rise until doubled in size.

    When they are proved, grease two cazuelas with oil and heat them for 10 minutes in the preheated oven. Flour a bread board generously with maize flour, reverse one basket onto the board, sprinkle the top of the dough with maize flour and transfer, by sliding, into one of the pans, floured side up. Slash the top 4 times, 2 each way, with a razor-sharp knife. Place in the oven. Repeat with the second loaf.

    Whatever the form of loaf, bake for up to 50–60 minutes. Tap the bottom of the loaf – if it sounds hollow it is done. Cool on racks.

    Mix the flour and yeast in a bowl then work in the water. Beat it to a smooth cream with a whisk. Cover the bowl and leave to rise in a moderately warm place (23–25°C). Let it ferment for 1½ hours.