Sourdough bread with walnuts

Sourdough with walnuts recipe

Out of all the things one can add to sourdough bread, walnuts top my list

First time I had a really delicious walnut bread coincided with my growing interest for baking. I was in London on a business trip and on my way from a meeting with my mind set on getting out of my suit and into a hot bath back at the hotel, I walked past the most lovely of all British bakery’s.

It was something out of a Jamie Oliver-dream, with homemade jam, pickled oinions and everything that’s nice from the British kitchen. Decided the bath could wait a couple of minutes and indulged on a piece of lightly toasted walnut sourdough topped with real butter and a generous slice of aged brie. The crispy bread, the perfectly salted butter and the creamy brie – I still wake up in the middle of the night with the smell of that perfect sandwich lingering somewhere in my nose.

To me, that single sandwich was like waking up from a coma. Suddenly I understood what the difference is between bread and bread.

Since I want my walnut bread to be packed with walnuts it comes with the unpleasant feature of giving me a full stomach after only two slices. To avoid the disappointment of seeing an empty plate and still have a full mug of tea I slice them into small sandwiches, each just a mouthful. At the same time you’re able to choose from a variety of toppings.

Here’s my favourites:
– Raspberry jam
– Butter and then a little more butter
– Brie and maybe a drop of aged balsamic vinegar
– Chevre, a slice of fig and a teaspoon fresh honey
– Aged swedish cheese, a thin slice.
– Cured salmon, fresh horseradish and a sprinkle of grounded black pepper

For variations I use spelt or rye. Replace 200 g of wheat flour withzx 200 g spelt or 180 g rye instead. But you’re not allowed to do any variations until you’ve tried the original recipe. That’s the law.

 

Sourdough bread with walnuts

Time: 60 minutes of work and a total of 48 hours waiting from start to finish.

  • 20 g starter
  • Freshener: 100 g wheat flour + 100 g water
  • Levain: 200 g wheat flour + 200 g water
  • 760 g wheat flour
  • 400 g water
  • 18-23 g sea salt
  • 160 g walnuts (or use 240 g walnuts for a totally insane bread – I dare you to try!)
  1. Morning day 1: Find your old, not very active sourdough wherever you keep it. It doesn’t matter if it’s a week or two since you used it the last time. We’re going to supercharge it! Mix 20 g starter, 100 g wheat flour and 100 g water in a jar and cover with plastic wrap. Place it somewhere warm and nice, like the cupboard above the refrigerator (is that a typical Swedish thing?). Took me 8 hours to have it double in size and develop a foam-like structure on the top.
  2. Evening day 1: Throw away all of the bubbly starter except 20 g. Mix it with 200 g wheat flour and 200 g water. Stir, cover and put it back where it rested all day.
  3. Morning dag 2: Now you should have a superactive, bubbly and almost foamy levain, ready to be transformed into bread.
  4. Mix 400 g levain, wheat flour and water using your hands or a mixer. Just mix the ingredients. The cover the dough and let it rest for up to an hour.
  5. Sprinkle salt over the dough. Grab the right edge of the dough and pull until it starts to break apart. Then fold it over the dough. Repeat with the left, the upper and then the lower edge. Cover and let the dough rest for 30 minutes.
  6. Toast the walnuts in a dry pan. Don’t burn them. When they start changing color and they smell…ehrm…nutty, remove them from the heat.
  7. Chop the walnuts coarsely and sprinkle over the dough. Repeat the folding. Let rest another 30 minutes.
  8. Fold the dough again. You should notice that it’s becoming more and more stretchy as the gluten develops.
  9. Let ferment 2 hours in room temperature.
  10. Transfer dough from bowl to a table that’s lightly dusted with flour. Cut into halves and form loaves (I prefer them round).
  11. I use baskets for the final fermentation but a bowl with a linen cloth dusted with flour does the trick.
  12. Let the dough rise rest at least 2-3 hours. You should see an increase in volume of at least 50-60% and if you using a finger press lightly on the dough it should return to it’s shape immediately. As a beginner it’s a nightmare to recognize when the dough is ready for the oven, but better let it ferment an hour more if you’re not sure.
  13. At the same time as the final fermentation starts, turn on the oven. 250 degrees C or even 270 C if you’re blessed with a really good oven.
  14. I use a stone (Swedish granite!) in the oven but if you don’t have any, just leave a tray in the oven so it becomes scorching hot.
  15. When the dough is ready and the oven is heated, flip the basket/bowl upside down and move the dough onto the tray or transfer it onto the hot stone using whatever you prefer.
  16. Score the breads (before you put them in the oven) to allow the to rise.
  17. Use a handheld mist sprayer to spray water into the oven. The humidity is necessary for the breads to get a nice crust. Or you can just throw a couple of ice cubes in the bottom om the oven.
  18. Lower the temperature to 240 degrees C and bake for a total of 40 minutes. If the crust becomes to dark for you taste, just cover it with tin foil. When inside temperature of the bread reaches 97 degrees it’s ready. Let it cool down (but not too much, may I mind you!) and have your first slice with real butter.
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