Nuts are nutritious and filling and great for snacking. Whilst sharing a handful of walnuts with our 4 year old, I felt inspired to make something even more nutritious…bread! I swiftly jumped up and went on the hunt for a walnut bread recipe.
I decided to go to my beloved recipe book collection for some inspiration. Following several happy minutes’ research, I settled upon Sue Lawrence’s Wholemeal Walnut Loaf in her fantastic Sue Lawrence’s Book of Baking‘. Sue won Masterchef in 1991 and has gone on to write for numerous newspapers and magazines. I have two of her books – the other being ‘On Baking’ and I regularly use both books with great results.
Sue writes the recipe with a warning that “the loaf is good for you!” Apparently she based it on the famous Grant Loaf, which she loves thinly sliced and buttered, although I am loving it thickly sliced, toasted and buttered with a drizzle of honey. The rest of the introduction to the recipe is so interesting that I am going to copy it exactly so you can understand why it is made this way. I have asked Headline books if they mind me doing this, so until I receive a reply, I’ll leave it here:
“According to Doris Grant in the 1961 book Your Bread & Your Life it is the ‘no kneading’ that accounts for the loaf’s delicious flavour. She says that the air spaces formed by the yeast working in the dough may contain some undiscovered vitamins or other qualities in stoneground wholewheat flour. When these air spaces are broken during kneading, these qualities escape and are lost. Her theory was confirmed by an experienced baker who agreed that the wholewheat bread must never be kneaded and told her that it did not matter two hoots if white bread was kneaded or not, as it had already lost most of its goodness in the milling process.
After she published her recipe in 1944, Mrs Grant had endless correspondence on how her bread had changed people’s lives, since the use of wholewheat flour was essential for a healthy diet; her conviction was also a reaction against the ubiquity of cheap, processed flours heavily treated with chemicals. When she was speaking in Tyneside, a miner told her how different his health had become since his wife had begun baking the Grant loaf daily. She also illustrated the health-giving properties of wholewheat flour by writing that the Channel islanders were much healthier during the German Occupation in the Second World War because bakers had to use wholegrain German flour instead of processed white British flour. …”
I have made a couple of alterations to the recipe, but it is essentially as follows:
Walnut Bread Recipe:
Makes 2 small or 1 large loaf.
You will need around 2 hours from start to finish.
Sue suggests using a well-buttered 900g/2lb loaf tin, but as my loaf tin has seen better days and i’m not sure what size it is, I erred on the side of caution and lined 2 loaf tins with baking paper (one is actually silicone, not metal, but you get the idea!). As it is a heavy dough, she states that buttering the tin(s) well will prevent the sides sticking.
- 650g strong wholemeal flour
- 7g sachet of fast action, easy blend dried yeast
- 2 tsp salt dissolved in 550ml tepid water
- 100g chopped walnuts
- Weigh the flour into a large bowl and mix in the yeast. Add the walnuts and slowly pour in the salty water, stirring all the time with a wooden spoon. Prepare for a mini workout while you continue to stir for 2-3 minutes, working from the sides into the middle, until the dough leaves the sides of the bowl clean.
- Place the dough into the tin(s), spreading out evenly. Cover loosely with oiled clingfilm and leave to rise in a warm place for 45-60 minutes. After around 30 mins, switch the oven on to pre-heat to 230C / 450F / Gas mark 8.
- Bake for 40-45 minutes until the loaf sounds hollow when tapped underneath. If it is starting to brown too quickly, cover loosely with foil for the last 10 mins. Allow to cool out of the tin, on a wire rack.
I hope this works for you as well as it did for me, it’s a fairly dense loaf, but is delicious and next time, I may lightly toast the walnuts and add a tablespoon or so of honey to the wet dough to boost the flavour. It is great ‘as is’, though and the children love it! My friend has asked for a loaf without the nuts, and as she loves malt loaf, I’ll add some malt extract to see how that goes. Let me know if you try it and what ‘tweaks’ you made. Hurrah for wholesome wholemeal!
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