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Friday, May 29, 2009

Saved by the Walnut Bread

I love, love bread. I love making it, smelling it and eating it. When Christa asked who was interested in preparing a bread starter (made of flour, yeast and water) before Saturday’s class, I was an eager beaver. Of course I wanted to do it! Plus, making a bread starter is simple…really simple.

Simple or not, there are certain circumstances when one should not attempt to make a bread starter. Trust me.

I put together (or tried to) my rendition of a bread starter late-ish on Friday night. Yes, Friday night……I’m aware how lame this makes me. Anyway, I was supremely exhausted after a long week, did not have back-up ingredients (in case of a malfunction), and was emotionally drained. I mixed my ingredients together and noticed that the recipe said to knead the mixture a few times. Hmmm….my bread starter had the consistency of buttermilk…not exactly knead-able. I realized that I had accidentally doubled the amount of water and ruined my bread starter. I cried.

The next morning, I went to class bearing my failed bread starter. It didn’t matter. “Okay, don’t use that…make the walnut bread with Patty instead,” said Christa. The walnut bread didn’t require a starter and was a perfect idea to me. I also thought Patty was a perfect partner in my breadventure. She gets my humor (shocker here….not everyone does…).

The walnut bread dough is straight forward, with minimal ingredients (flour, water, yeast, salt, walnuts, and walnut oil). However, walnuts are independent, funky things that hate dough. Upon attempted incorporation, they turn into nutty missiles with bad aim…shooting out every which-way and refusing to become one with the dough.

We had finally defeated the rebellious walnuts by kneading them into submission when we noticed another unexpected result. The bread dough had decided to turn slightly purple. It was odd…made no sense…and is a characteristic of all walnut breads I’ve ever eaten. I’m not sure why the purple tint occurs, but I’m sure there is some scientific explanation. Perhaps some reaction from the walnut oil? I bet Alton Brown would know.

After our dough was done with yet another long rest, we formed it into two rounds, slashed them with “the slasher” and popped them into the oven. The bread is ready when it’s crust is golden brown, and it sounds hollow when you knock on it with your hand (don’t burn yourself….).

Walnut Bread

1 ½ tsp instant yeast

7 fl oz water, room temp.
340 g flour (~2 ¾ cups)
2 tsp salt
½ c chopped walnuts
3 fl oz walnut oil, divided in thirds
coarse salt for crust, if desired

In a large mixing bowl, mix water, flour, yeast, salt and 1 oz walnut oil; knead until smooth and then knead in walnuts (~15-20 minutes of kneading).

Let rise until double, about 1-1 ½ hours.

Knead in another oz of oil; let rise again until double.

Knead in last oz of oil; let rest 5-10 minutes.

Shape into one medium or two small loaves; let rise until almost double.

Sprinkle with salt, if desired; bake in 425 degree oven for 30-35 minutes.


Nicholas said...

That's so weird that they turn purple!

Nicholas said...

They look delicious though

Anonymous said...

and they tasted delicious too :-)

Georgia Peach said...

mmmm walnut bread.

your comment on them being little missiles was funny! you are always making me laugh! <3 jo