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.
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.
Abbreviated and simplified from The Italian Baker, Carol Field.
*I used Baker’s Flour instead of plain flour, which worked well