You can only put so many walnuts in salad. So what’s a girl with walnut-tree-owning friends to do? I can’t always make cookies, lest I explode into Jerry Springer proportions, so today I’m making walnut bread, home style. Electric bread makers, by the way, are for sissies. So no instructions for automatic bread makers here. Nyah. Now that that’s off my chest, let’s get started. This preparation is far from lazy, and takes quite a few hours (with time for gaming in between, can’t say I don’t care about you).
 
Firstly, weigh and set up your ingredients.

 

For one loaf

  • 300 g white flour
  • 75 g rye flour
  • 20 g fresh yeast ( or 16-17 grams of dry yeast)
  • 250 ml water (for fresh yeast at room temperature, for dry yeast at 40°C)
  •  50 g walnuts
  • 50 g butter
  • 10 g salt
  • some extra walnuts or seeds for topping

Yes, I got the matching pots out for the picture.

 

I’m using fresh yeast here, for the rather simple reason that I have it in a cupboard. Most people would probably use dry yeast (http://www.foodsubs.com/LeavenYeast.html). You need about 2,4 times more fresh yeast than dry yeast, so for 40 grams of fresh yeast, substitute about 16-17 grams (geeky women, now with terrible math!).

Once you’ve got all that figured out, it’s time for you first step: chop your nuts! Giggling evilly while doing so is optional.

MUhahahahahaaaaaaaaa

 Before doing anything else, make sure your hands are clean and you remove any jewellery. Things will get sticky. Now grab a big bowl, dunk in the water and dissolve the yeast. Next, add the flour and the nuts. Squish around in there, getting thoroughly stuck and kneading as best as you can, till you get something resembling dough. Then turn the bowl over on a lightly floured surface. Add butter and salt and knead to your heart’s content.

Keep some flour handy and use pinches of it whenever the surface or your hands get too sticky. Knead for a few minutes, until your dough is nice and smooth (with bits of nut sticking out, obviously). You’ll know it’s ready when it feels sort of bouncy and firm. When you pick the loaf up, it shouldn’t flop from your hands.

Pictured: bouncy loaf (no, not Loaf, though I'm sure she's bouncy too)

Put the dough in a large bowl (quite a bit bigger than your dough), put a cloth over it and let it rest. You’ll need to let it rise for at least an hour, but longer will make for a tastier bread. I’m leaving mine in a fridge for 16 hours, overnight. So go make yourself some coffee and play some Dragon Age (sixteen hours is just about enough to get through the damn Orzammar thing).

Once it’s risen, get your bread into shape. What I’m going to do with mine is braid it, because that looks all fancy and home-made. Your bread will not taste any differently if you just make it into a round loaf (you can just skip the next paragraph for that).

For a braid, get out your dough, cut it up into three parts and let the parts rest for about ten minutes. Put a cloth or towel over them, so they don’t get all dry and crusty. After 10 minutes, go back and roll each piece into a sausage (which is surprisingly hard with fully risen dough). Braid the sausages and stick the end bits together (adding a dab of water helps tremendously with the sticking part).

With your bread all into shape, put it on your baking tray and cover with a cloth. Leave it to rise for 40 minutes. While it’s doing that, preheat the oven to 220°C. Also, grab some water and some leftover walnuts. Chop the walnuts into teeny, tiny bits. These will provide the topping. Now, if you’re not into charcoaled walnuts, you might want to be a bit careful here, as they tend to burn. Try to keep the small bits of walnut skin out of the pile, for instance (if you’re using seeds, good on you, they don’t burn that easily). On the other hand, toppings have the advantage that you can just brush them off if they’re burnt, as opposed to, say charcoal pizza crust, burnt lasagne.

“Hey Lethe, sounds like you have quite a bit of experience burning things.”

Mmmmaybe.

After 40 minutes, get your baking-tray-with-bread and brush some water over the top of the dough. Then sprinkle the little walnut pieces over it. The water should help it stick.

MUhahahaha*cough*wheeze*

We’re nearly there. Shove your awesome bread into the oven and wait for another 40 minutes. Make sure to check regularly, since ovens differ quite a lot. My fan oven made a very thoroughly baked bread, which I love but most people might not be too fond of.

Purty

 Here’s the full thing, in awesome-o-vision. Tastes great with nutella, by the way (actually, most things taste great with nutella, but this one especially).

Pictured: Awesome-o-Vision

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