Friday, 23 February 2007

Walnuts for Wet Days

The weather today has been cold, wet, grey and miserable and after scurrying home from uni it left me with no desire to go out in it again. I wanted to bake something to cheer myself up and after a short rummage in the cupboards, which unearthed some dried yeast, I decided to make bread. Afterall, nothing is more spirit lifting than the smell and taste of freshly baked bread. I found a fairly simple recipe for a walnut loaf which I decided to turn into spiced walnut bread by adding mixed spice along with some black treacle to enhance the flavour.

The bread was fun and easy to make and allowed me to get on with some work while it sat proving away in the kitchen. The finished loaf is nice and nutty with a spicy overtone similar to hot cross buns. I think it would make great cheese and pickle sandwiches.

Spiced Walnut Bread
(Adapted from The Big Book of Bread by Anne Sheasby)
Ingredients
350g strong plain flour
½ tsp salt
1 tsp dried fast action yeast
½ tsp mixed spice
1 tsp black treacle
55g walnuts
180ml warm water
Milk for glazing

Method
Sieve the flour into a large bowl and add the salt, yeast and mixed spice.
Roughly chop the walnuts and add to the flour mixture.
Dissolve the black treacle into the warm water before adding it to the flour mixture, a bit at a time, you might not need all the liquid.
Work the flour mixture together with your fingers until a soft, slightly sticky dough is formed.
Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and kneed for 5 minutes until soft, smooth and elastic.
Place in a lightly oiled bowl, cover with cling film and leave to prove in a warm place until doubled in size.
Once risen, knock back the dough and shape it into a round loaf and place it onto a lightly floured baking sheet.
Leave to rise in a warm place for another 30 minutes.
Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 220C.
Brush the surface of the dough with a little milk and place in the oven and cook for 10 minutes. Then, reduce the temperature to 190C and bake for a further 15 minutes.
Once cooked the bread should be golden brown in colour and sound hollow when tapped on the base.
Transfer the bread to a wire wrack and allow to cool.
Makes 1 small loaf

Notes:
1) The warm water should be no hotter than blood temperature/feel nicely warm when you dip your fingers into it or else you run the risk of killing the yeast.
2) Suitable places to leave the dough to prove are on a table in direct sunlight, near a radiator, on top of your boiler or in an airing cupboard.

1 comment:

Eileen said...

This is just my style of recipe Katie.I find bread comforting too.