Tuesday, 27 April 2010

Pain aux Noix

I stand corrected. Handmade bread is worth waiting for. To reitterate from a previous post I am incredibly impatient. Perhaps it is the unhealthy amount of espresso I consume, or the high levels of sugar hanging heavy in the air at home (due to my baking obsession).

Whatever the reason it means and I have to tie my hands, sit on them, lock myself in a box and have that box lowered to the bottom of the canal to stop myself from pulling the bread dough out of the airing cupboard before it's rising time has elapsed. I'm just so keen, too eager to get for one stage to the next...I sit twitching expectantly by the phone too - you know the sort.

That said, I will never turn down a challenge. If you've read my last post you'll know that this weekend had to involve proper breadmaking. I put a cloth over the breadmaker, rolled up my sleaves and swallowed my pride:

Walnut Bread

Combine 150ml of warm water with 2 teaspoons of dried yeast and 1 teaspoon of caster sugar. Leave it for 10-15mins (just enough time to leg it to the corner shop to pick up the strong white bread flour!)

100g of ground walnuts

350g of strong white bread flour

1 teaspoon of salt

150ml warm water

100g of walnut pieces

Mix the flour, ground walnuts, salt and walnut pieces together in a large bowl. Pour the warm water into the original yeast mixture and add to the dry ingredients. Stir vigarously with a metal spoon until a dough forms. Roll up your sleaves and with squeeky clean hands start to knead the dough on a well floured surface. Walnuts will fly all over the kitchen - sorry. Knead the dough as violently as you can for 10minutes. Once the dough is smooth and elastic put a teaspoon of vegetable oil in the bowl and pop the dough back in the bowl, rotate it a few times to cover it in a little oil. Cover with cling film and leave in a warm place for an hour (mine went in the airing cupboard)

When it has about doubled in size turn it back out onto the work surface, knock it out by giving it a few well deserved right hooks and kneading, folding it over onto itself to give a smooth finish. After about 5 mins stick it in a large loaf tin which has been well greased. Cover with a damp tea towel and back into the airing cupboard for half an hour. When it has risen nicely again, put a few decorative slashes with a sharp knife in the top and bake in the oven on gas mark 5 for 30-35 mins.

When you turn it out it should sound hollow when you knock it on it's base. Stick the loaf upside down (with out the tin) back in the oven for 5 mins to crisp up then put on a wire rack to cool.

Serve warm, thickly sliced with a little butter. If you can get it this bread is a perfect partner for hard or semi pressed goats cheeses.

The main positive difference was the crust. With breadmaker offerings you dont really get a good crunchy crust. This was crisp, tasty and delicious in its own right, fussy 8 year olds request their sandwiches with the crusts cut off, with this loaf I contemplated cutting the bread off!