One of the culinary joys this time of year is the new season of walnuts, which Paul and I have been foraging along the lanes leading from the village of Daglan. The walnut trees produce nuts that have been awarded ‘Noix du Perigord Appellation d’Origine (AOP)’ and are grown in over 7,000 hectares, primarily in the Perigord Noir. Our area is known as ‘Route de la Noix’ because of the abundance of walnuts.
The walnuts are used in many delicacies and recipes such as walnut lacquer, which is delicious, walnut wine, walnut gateau, walnut biscuits, walnut flour, walnut bread, walnut oil, in fact the nuts can be cooked with almost anything and everything from the starter of the meal to the dessert.
Not only are they rich in fibres, an excellent source of manganese, vitamin B1, B6, B9 and E, high in arginine which contributes to a good blood circulation, low in sodium (ideal for a salt free diet), rich in in omega 6 and 3 lipids, but they are also ‘une pepite energetique’, a little nugget of energy, with a 20-25g portion providing 8% of the daily pep required for an adult.
This year I thought that I would try walnut bread which is gorgeous eaten with cheese.
Makes one small loaf and bakes in around thirty minutes.
250g (9oz) granary flour
1tsp salt, 1tsp sugar
75g (3oz) shelled walnuts, brake the walnuts in half or quarters.
2g (one sachet) dried active yeast
180ml (6) warm water
Baking tray lined with baking parchment
1 In a medium sized mixing bowl, mix the flour, salt and sugar, add the walnuts, yeast and water and combine with a wooden spoon and then with your hands until it forms a dough. Cover and leave in the bowl for ten minutes.
2 Leaving the dough in the bowl, knead by stretching a portion of it up from the side and press into the middle. Turn the bowl slightly and repeat with another portion of dough. Repeat another eight times. The whole process should take about one minute and the dough should start to resist. Cover and leave to rest for ten minutes.
3 Repeat step 2 another three times. After the final knead, cover and leave to prove for about one hour.
4 Punch down the dough with your fist to release the air, then place it onto a floured work surface. Shape into a ball with your hands. Flatten the dough slightly into a neat round disc, then push your finger through the middle to make a hole. Enlarge a little, then place the bread onto a prepared baking sheet.
5 Cover the bread with the empty bowl and let it rise until just less than double its size, about 45 mins.
6 About twenty minutes before baking, preheat the oven to 260C/fan 240C/gas 9 and place a roasting pan at the bottom of the oven to preheat. Fill a cup of water and set aside.
7 When the dough has finished rising, uncover it and dust with flour.
8 Slash a large square into the top of the dough, about 5mm deep, using a sharp knife.
9 Place the bread dough into the oven, pour the cupful of water into the hot roasting pan and lower the oven to 200C/fan 180C/gas6. Bake for about 30 mins, or until it has turned brown.
10 To check if the bread is cooked all the way through, tip it upside down and tap the bottom. It should sound hollow. If not ready return to the oven for a few minutes. Place onto a wire rack to cool.
The walnuts add a wonderful flavour to the bread.