Pane Festivo. Christmas Walnut Bread

Pane di Noce
Pane di Noce

A walnut bread, dark and nourishing, is quick and easy to make. I was thinking how nice this bread would be for Christmas Eve with some soft cheese, perhaps a handmade goat cheese, or some Italian Stracchino. My first practice loaf was eaten over three days, remaining moist and fresh, requiring only a scrape of butter, French demi-sel as it happened to be. I will be making this loaf again very soon and hope that it gets to meet some cheesy friends.

Bread and Butter. Nothing more.
Bread and Butter. Nothing more.

Pane di Noce/Walnut Bread

200 g walnut pieces

7 g active dry yeast

85 g honey

320 g warm water

30 g olive oil

500 g unbleached plain flour, plus extra for kneading.*

7.5 g salt.

Preheat the oven to 180c. Toast the walnuts on a baking sheet for 10 minutes. Let cool and chop to course crumbs  or in a food processor.

Using a stand mixer, stir the yeast and honey into the water in the mixing bowl: let stand until foamy or for 10 minutes. Stir in the oil with the paddle. Add the flour, salt, and walnuts and mix until the dough comes together. Change to the dough hook and knead until soft, moist, and fairly dense, 5 minutes.

Knead briefly by hand on a lightly floured surface.

First Rise Place the dough in an oiled bowl, cover tightly with plastic wrap and let rise until doubled, about 1 ¼ hours.

Shaping and Second Rise. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Without punching down or kneading, shape into a log. Place the loaf onto a floured or oiled baking sheet. Cover the dough with plastic wrap and let rise until doubled, about 1 hour.

Baking. Pre heat the oven to 200°c . Slash the loaf just as you pop it into the hot oven. Bake for 10 minutes. Reduce the temperature to  175°c and bake for 40 minutes longer. Cool completely on a rack.


walnut bread
walnut bread

Abbreviated and simplified from The Italian Baker, Carol Field.

*I used Baker’s Flour instead of plain flour, which worked well

39 thoughts on “Pane Festivo. Christmas Walnut Bread”

      1. Truthfully, I can eat very small amounts too, but not daily or anything. I wonder if you are like me and have non-celiac gluten sensitivity. In my case I figured out the connection between wheat and the other foods that give me problems. It appears to be that I no longer have the right digestive acids to process fructose very well, only small amounts. Turns out of all the grains wheat is highest in fructose! I can tolerate rye (lower in fructose) much better than wheat, for example. I wonder if the walnuts in this lessen the fructose content enough that you can eat it? It’s all very individual and most doctors are no help. I’ve had to be my own researcher! I’m glad you can eat this one, but it is so generous of you to make so much bread for others. 💕

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Ardys, I have fructose malabsorption too. Check out the FODMAP diet online at Monash Uni, especially the app that’s available to download, very useful. Most of my recipes for the past 18months comply with the guidelines if you need some inspiration

          Liked by 3 people

          1. Thanks Sandra. I have followed the FODMAP recommendations for probably 5 years now. It definitely improved my life, though I do miss eating certain things and dip into v small amounts from time to time. 😁 Did you know that diet and the whole Fructose thing was pioneered here in Australia? I came across it by accident when the researcher published her paper online years ago. Within days of using the recommendations my digestion improved! Why don’t GP’s know this stuff? Maybe they do now, but they certainly didn’t when I was struggling.

            Liked by 1 person

            1. My GP recommended me to a gastroenterologist she knew of that was interested in the connection between IBS and diet, but I agree it’s foreign to most. I guess I was lucky to be in Melbourne where the groundbreaking research was being conducted. I’ve been following the diet for 2-3 years. It’s made an enormous difference. I had identified foods that has upset me but many I didn’t suspect came to light after I began. Additives, I find are the biggest trap, that’s a great motivator to cook. Like you a little wheat occasionally is OK, but there are some foods that even a whiff affects me. I don’t feel I miss out though, there is plenty I can eat

              Liked by 2 people

              1. We sound very similar in our experience, Sandra. Onion is the one that kills me, even a whiff of onion makes me feel a bit odd. Mostly I don’t feel deprived, but like you I have to cook everything myself to avoid additives. Fortunately I have always cooked a lot from scratch anyway. I’m going off to find you blog to subscribe now…

                Liked by 1 person

                1. Ardys, you will love Sandra’s blog. I call her the best cook in Melbourne, but now that she is in Brisbane, I should change that to Australia. Her food is inspiring, showing that flollowing FODMAP guidelines, one can eat fabulously well.


        2. I have problems if I eat too much bread- but then the same thing happens with rice and potatoes and starchy things. I just limit my intake of these things.
          I make bread for others because I love watching them hoe into it. I still have a little, a slice maybe every other day, but if I eat ‘white death’ from the supermarket, I get severe indigestion.

          Liked by 1 person

  1. I used to make this recipe before gut issues began, I know it’s a good one. I loved it with gorgonzola dolce. Sarah, from “Say little hen” I met at IMK has nailed the spelt sourdough so looking forward to my Priscilla gift with great expectations. She’s given me lots of tips, walnut and spelt would be excellent together..


    1. I tried spelt and it was even worse for me. Assume it was the fructose issue but could be something else too. My system is sensitive to a number of things besides the fructose. ☹️

      Liked by 1 person

  2. That looks scrumptious! Walnut bread with goats cheese sounds delightful, wonder if I could add some figs? Have to love that balers bread 🙂 Years ago, when I was studying nutritional science in a naturopathic stream, GP’s only got to glimpse looking at nutrition and food allergies as an almost throw away, unlikely ever to need concept. One would hope this has changed, but by your comments, maybe not! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I made a walnut loaf a couple months ago and it was delicious. I’m more than willing to follow your recipe, though I doubt I’ll wait until Christmas Eve to do so. Self-denial is vastly over-rated. Thanks for sharing another great recipe, Francesca.


  4. Yum! In my house your walnut bread would call for blue cheese and figs which although I eat them occasionally throughout the year is my favourite Christmas treat.
    Interesting how many commenters -me included- experience similar malabsorption issues. For me, fortunately, everything in moderation has been sufficient to live with it…


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