Saturday, February 21, 2009

Five Grain Bread with Walnuts, A Bread Baking Buddy Event



I am a passionate baker and bread is one of my all time favorites. I make all of our bread for us and our guests. I on occasion will buy bread in town to try someone else's for a change of pace, but find that for the most part, good bread is a dying art, even here in Italy. There are loads of bakeries and just too many white loaves and many different shapes, but most of them all taste the same. Seldom do they jump out at me and catch my imagination. Integrale or whole wheat loaves are generally the same. If you find a good dark bread here, it is usually a good one and often it will have walnuts as well. Dark walnut bread is a favorite in these parts, traditional and not so easy to find. When I saw this loaf popping up around on a few blogs last week ad heard it was the Baking Bread Babes 1 year anniversary, hosted by the energetic and ever so friendly and encouraging creator, Tanna of My Kitchen in Half Cups, I knew I was in. I have been making similar loaves to appreciative eaters, so I knew this one would be a winner as well and it was.
I am unable to completely follow a recipe for either lack of concentration or because I don't have the exact ingredients on hand and often only go into town once a week or so, and if it gets forgotten then so be it, tweaked recipe. Actually, I did pretty well on this one, having all the ingredients on hand, but I just had to tinker with the method a bit to suit my baking frame of mind these days. I'm a fan of slow rise, natural leavening, full flavor bread as I am a firm believer in that the longer it rises slowly, the sugars break down and release their full flavor goodness. Feel free to follow the recipe as is, because I know you will get good results as the many different bakers did. Check out the list of other Baking Babes and their results on Tanna's blog.
I love this bread as it it is very flavorful and has a nice crispy and yet chewy crust. Great toasted for breakfast as well as with fresh ricotta and olive pate just to name one variation.
I will add my modifications and method at the end of the recipe.

Five~Grain Bread with Walnuts
Adapted from Carol Field's An Italian Baker

Pane ai Cinque Cereali con Noci

Makes 2 9 X 5-inch loaves
1 1/4cups (300 grams) walnut pieces
3 3/4 teaspoons active dry yeast or 1 1/2 small cakes (27 grams) fresh
yeast
¼ cup warm water
3 cups water, room temperature
3 3/4 cups (500 grams) unbleached all-purpose flour
1 ¼ cups (125 grams) oat flour or finely ground rolled oats
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons (125 grams) rye flour
1 cup less 1 tablespoon (125 grams) whole-wheat flour
¾ cup (125 grams) brown rice flour
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon (20 grams) salt

Toast the walnuts for 10 minutes in a 400 F oven; then chop in a food processor fitted with the steel blade or with a sharp knife to the size of a fat rice kernel. Do not grind them finely.

BY HAND

Stir the yeast into the warm water in a large mixing bowl; let stand until creamy, about 10 minutes. Stir in 3 cups water. Mix the walnuts, flours, and salt and stir 2 cups at a time into the dissolved yeast, stirring vigorously with a wooden spoon or rubber spatula. The dough should come together easily. Knead on a floured surface, sprinkling with additional all-purpose flour as needed, until firm, elastic, and no longer sticky, 8 to 10 minutes.

BY MIXER

Stir the yeast into the warm water in a mixer bowl; let stand until creamy, about 10 minutes. Stir in 3 cups water. Stir in the flours, walnuts, and salt with the paddle. Mix until the dough comes together. Change to the dough hook and knead for 3 to 4 minutes at medium speed until firm and elastic but still slightly sticky. Finish kneading briefly by hand on a surface floured with all-purpose flour.

BY PROCESSOR

Make sure your food processor can handle the volume of this dough. Even when done in 2 batches, there will be 4 cups flour to be processed. Stir the yeast into the warm water in a small bowl; let stand until creamy, about 10 minutes. Place the flours and salt in a food processor fitted with the dough blade and process with several pulses to sift. With the machine running, pour the dissolved yeast and 3 cups cold water through the feed tube as quickly as the flours can absorb it; process until the dough gathers into a ball. Process 40 seconds longer to knead. Knead in the walnuts by hand on a surface floured with all-purpose flour.


First Rise. Place the dough in a lightly oiled bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and let rise until doubled, about 1 hour.

Shaping and Second Rise. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface. The dough should be moist, firm, and noticeably elastic, if slightly sticky. Cut the dough in half and shape each half into an oval loaf to fit a loaf pan. Place the loaves in the oiled pans (preferably glass), cover with a heavy towel, and let rise until truly doubled and fully above the tops of the pans, 1 to 1 ¼ hours.

Baking. Heat oven to 400° F. Slash a pattern in the top of the loaves. One baker in Milan cuts the shape of a stalk of grain on the top; elsewhere bakers make 3 parallel slashes. Bake 40 to 45 minutes; bake the last 5 to 10 minutes out of the pans on a baking stone or baking sheet to brown the bottoms and sides. Cool completely on a rack.

Marla's variations
I made mine all by hand. I prefer weights to cups, but have used cups here.

* Pan toasted the walnuts in the stove in a cast iron skillet, just kept shaking them to turn so they lightly toasted.
* 1/4 tsp instant yeast added to the dry ingredients
* 1 cup ground oat flour and 1/4 cup 6 grain rolled flakes
* Salt about a tablespoon.
* 1 1/2 cup natural leavened starter , sometime called sourdough, I call it biga, here they call the "mama"
* 2 cups or so water, approximately, as I was compensating for the runny starter

I put my dry ingredients together and added the biga and water and mixed with a spoon till I took over with my hands adding more water or flour if needed. I think I went a bit heavy on the water and would back off bit next time. I wanted to make sure the grains could absorb properly.

First rise took a couple of hours as my starter wasn't as lively as usual.

Then I divided the dough in two and gently shaped it into two round loaves. I would have been careful not to deflate it if it hadn't been so wet. them I used two baskets lined with floured cotton tea towels that I keep and use regularly for this purpose, as I can't find heavy canvas nor do I have bannetons. I made sure the loaves were well floured and the tops(which are your bottom of the loaves) covered by the tea towels. I placed both in a large plastic bag and left them in our quite cold room next door to rise over night.

Brought them in next morning and when they had warmed up I baked them in a preheated hot oven on sheet trays that they were turned out on to and deeply slashed. Popped in to a very hot oven that I sprayed with water and baked till hollow sounding.

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