This is another fine bread from “Il Fornaio Baking Book,” by Franco Galli. In his introduction he says that although bakers in his native Italy would snack on walnuts, they never incorporated them into their breads. My reaction to that is that with so much good bread and so many other ingredients, maybe they didn’t feel the need to experiment. Whatever the truth, this is a first-class bread, one that demands cream cheese or thinly-sliced ham and cheese.
This dough uses a small amount of 100% biga and goes from start to finish in one day. The loaf is made with a little over 50% whole wheat flour, which, when combined with the walnuts, makes this a fairly modern healthy bread. I converted the recipe from cups of flour to weight and scaled the recipe to yield a final hydration of 65%. Even with this hydration, the dough is fairly easy to work with, just make sure you have a good bench knife within reach — you’ll knead it. (sorry, couldn’t resist)
Ingredients of Italian Walnut Bread
|Bread flour||2 1/4||65|
|Dry Yeast||1/4 tsp||1|
Add the Biga to the following ingredients.
|Dry Yeast||2 tsp||10 ml|
|Warm Water||4||115 ml|
|Salt||1 Tbsp||15 ml|
|Honey||1 Tbsp||15 ml|
|Cool Water||18||570 ml|
|Walnuts, pieces and halves||1 1/2 cups||360 ml|
Method for Making Italian Walnut Bread
1. Make the biga 4 hours ahead of time and let it develop on the counter.
2. Mix the warm water and the yeast in a small bowl and let it sit for 15 minutes.
3. Mix the flours in the bowl of a large mixer, stir in the salt and make a well in the center.
4. Add the yeast mixture, honey, cool water and biga and mix for a minute or two, until the mess begins to look like a mass of dough.
5. Cover the bowl and let the dough rest for 20 minutes.
6. Uncover the dough and knead for 10 minutes.
7. Turn the dough out onto the counter and pat it into a large circle. He says 6 inches / 15 cm in diameter. I went quite a bit more and it didn’t seem to hurt.
8. Spread the walnuts evenly over the surface. I pressed them down into the dough a bit so they would stay in place.
9. Fold one side of the dough over the other to make a semi-circle.
10. Starting at one of the long ends, roll the semi-circle up into a log.
11. Turn the dough. Starting at one of the ends, roll the log up into a ball.
12. Working by hand, gently knead the dough to distribute the nuts evenly throughout the dough. Be sure to seal any places where the nuts break through the surface.
13. Run a large bowl with olive oil, put the dough in the bowl and turn the dough to coat it with the oil.
14. Cover the bowl and let the dough ferment until doubled, about an hour.
15. Fold the dough and return it to the bowl.
16. Let the dough ferment until doubled again, about 45 minutes.
17. Place the dough on the work surface and divide it in two. Cover and let the pieces rest for 10 minutes.
18. Shape into a boule by working the dough down toward the bottom and sealing it. Be careful not to let any nuts pop through the dough. If they do, seal them back in.
19. When you have a boule, place the dough on the table and work it at the ends so the ends are tapered.
20. Heat the oven to 425F / 218C. Have a baking stone or tiles in the oven.
21. Place the doughs on parchment paper, cover with a towel and let rise for 45 minutes, or until the loaves double in size.
22. Mist the oven with water. Slash the loaves down the center of the loaves, about 1/2 inch / 12 mm deep.
23. Place the loaves in the oven, mist the oven again. Bake for 5 minutes and mist again.
24. Bake for 20 minutes and turn the loaves. Finish baking to an internal temperature of 200F / 93C, another 10-15 minutes. My total baking time was 35 minutes.
25. Remove from the oven and let cool on racks.
Here We Go!
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