“She would serve, at a table in the dining room, her basic snack meal-available, in an emergency, at almost any hour of the day or night—Le Gouteron pour le Motoriste. It consisted of home-baked rustic-style walnut bread, locally churned butter, a platter of paper-thin slices of mountain-cured sun-dried ham, locally made fresh with goats’ milk cheese, some of Mademoiselle Ray’s superbly light miniature fresh fruit tartlets, a carafe of the house white wine, and coffee.”
—Auberge of the Flowering Hearth by Roy Andries de Groot
This beautiful story was the inspiration for the Bread Baking Babes this month. Elizabeth, of blog from OUR kitchen, found this lovely book on a shelf at her in-laws. She followed her nose to reveal the recipe for Walnut Bread which was hidden within the perfume-infused pages.
This was a wonderful introduction to a delicious bread. However, to make things even more interesting, in true babe fashion, Elizabeth also consulted The Italian Baker by Carol Field and made note of her suggestions as well. What she ended up with was BBB Auberge Walnut Bread also known as Pain Aux Noix.
“Since the lower slopes of the Alps and the Dauphiné to the west of the city of Grenoble are the main centers in France for the growing of walnut trees, it is hardly surprising that Mademoiselle Ray bakes a superb wholewheat whole-nut walnut bread. She gives it the strong character of the nuts by first blending into the dough a substantial amount of finely ground nutmeats and then folding in the uncut nut halves. The dough itself is made with a relatively coarse wholewheat flour, so that it has an attractive chewy country texture.” – Roy Andries de Groot, Walnut Wholewheat Bread, Breads and Cakes, Auberge of the Flowering Hearth, p. 412
“The first time I tasted this bread, I was certain that its rich, almost mahogany-colored interior came from freshly milled whole wheat, which shows how much I knew. The lovely dark color comes entirely from the walnuts that saturate the bread with their irresistibly delicate and nutty flavor. Be sure to toast the walnuts lightly to bring out the flavor before you chop and knead them into the dough. Baking the bread in a ring mold with a few whole walnuts on the bottom makes an appealing loaf when it is unmolded.“ – Carol Field, Pane di Noci, Celebration Breads, The Italian Baker, p. 200
Although this is a rustic walnut bread, I kept envisioning a French Cafe and an elegant setting so that is what I aimed for.
If you like walnuts, you’ll like this bread. I only made one loaf and omitted/changed some of the ingredients. I omitted the vital wheat gluten and wheat germ, and used scalded milk instead of milk powder, instant yeast instead of active-dry and walnut pieces instead of whole walnuts.
For more instructions, inspiration and volume measurements, please refer to Elizabeth’s post.
- Mixing bowl
- Danish dough whisk or large wooden spoon
- Plastic dough scraper or spatula for scraping down bowl
- Bench knife for scraping counter and lifting dough
- Bread scoring lame or knife
- Baking Sheet
- Parchment Paper
- Cooling rack
- 50 grams walnut pieces
- 50 grams walnut pieces, finely ground
- 210 grams whole milk, scalded
- 2 Tbsp unsalted butter
- 6 grams (1 tsp.) kosher salt
- ⅛ tsp. powdered ginger
- 2 Tbsp. dark honey
- 125 grams all-purpose flour
- 225 grams home-milled whole wheat flour
- 15 grams ground flax seed
- 3 grams (1 tsp.) instant yeast
- 30 grams water, if needed
- milk or cream for brushing during baking
- In the morning of the day you plan to bake the bread, spread the walnut halves in a single layer on a cookie sheet and toast them in a 400F oven for 8-10 minutes. Watch them carefully so they don't burn! They're done just at the moment you begin to smell them. Set aside 50 grams onto a plate to cool. Using a very sharp knife, finely chop the other 50g or grind in a blender or food processor.
- Pour the scalded milk into a large mixing bowl. Immediately add butter, honey, salt and powdered ginger and whisk until the butter has melted and the honey is incorporated.
- Add flours, instant yeast, ground flax seeds and ground walnuts.
- Stir everything together with a wooden spoon or Danish dough whisk to create a rough dough. Add the extra 30 grams of water if needed.
- Knead in the bowl (or use your electric mixer's instructions for kneading) until the dough is smooth, "elastic and no longer sticky".
- Cover the bowl with a plate and allow to proof in a draft-free area (oven with only the light turned on is ideal) until the dough has doubled.
- Cover a baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Turn dough out onto a lightly floured board. Roll into a ball.
- Cover with a clean tea towel and allow to rest for 20 minutes.
- After rest, flatten ball into a disc and even divide the rest of the walnut halves on top, "pressing the nuts in slightly", then roll the dough to form a log.
- Join the ends to make a ring, then place the log seam side down on the parchment paper.
- Cover with a tea towel and allow to rise in a draft-free area until the ring has almost doubled.
- Preheat oven to 375F.
- Just before putting the bread in the oven, score it with a lame if desired, then spray the top liberally with water.
- Put the bread into the oven and let it bake for 15 minutes, then turn the thermostat down to 350F.
- After 35 minutes, brush the top of the loaf with milk or cream.
- Continue baking for about 10 more minutes until the loaf is nicely browned and has reached an internal temperature between 200F and 210F (the bread sounds hollow when knuckle-rapped on the bottom).
- Remove the bread from the oven.
- Allow the bread to completely cool on a footed rack before cutting into it. It's still baking inside!
If you want to serve warm bread, reheat it after it has cooled completely. To reheat and/or rejuvenate Unsliced bread, turn the oven to 400F for 5 minutes or so. Turn the oven OFF. Put the bread in the hot oven for ten minutes.
Elizabeth is the host kitchen for March for the Bread Baking Babes. Details on how to participate in this month’s bake, can be found on Elizabeth’s post.
I invite you to bake this loaf and tell us all about it, by baking, blogging, sending your pictures and details to Elizabeth no later then the 29th of this month.
And please do check out the breads the other Babes made. Links to the babes below.
Bake My Day – Karen
blog from OUR kitchen – Elizabeth
Bread Experience – Cathy
All Roads Lead to the Kitchen – Heather
Judy’s Gross Eats – Judy
Karen’s Kitchen Stories – Karen
My Diverse Kitchen – Aparna
My Kitchen In Half Cups – Tanna
Notitie Van Lien – Lien
Thyme for Cooking – Katie (Bitchin’ Bread Baking Babe Bibliothécaire)
A Messy Kitchen – Kelly
Life’s a Feast – Jamie
Ilva Beretta Food Photography – Ilva