Cakes & Bakes: Walnut and sultana loaf

Sliced, home-made walnut and sultana loaf | H is for Home

I’ve decided to make a walnut and sultana loaf this week by tweaking a basic white bread recipe that I regularly use. I didn’t have enough white flour in store so I substituted a quarter with wholemeal. It was a good decision as it added to the nuttiness of the finished loaf.

Home-made walnut and sultana loaf dough in a mixing bowl with cane banneton | H is for Home

Sliced or torn pieces of this bread will go amazingly well with a mild, creamy blue cheese such as Dolcelatte, Saint Agur or Roquefort.

Home-made walnut and sultana loaf dough profing in a cane banneton | H is for Home Home-made walnut and sultana loaf dough profing in a cane banneton | H is for Home

Another good option would be a couple of dipping bowls of good quality olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Once the loaf’s a couple of days old, have it toasted and spread with butter and honey.

Home-made walnut and sultana loaf | H is for Home

Walnut and sultana loaf
Ingredients
  1. 7g/¼oz fast action yeast
  2. 1tsp sugar
  3. 300ml/10½fl oz warm water
  4. 500g/18oz strong bread flour
  5. 1tsp salt
  6. 50g/1¾oz chopped walnuts
  7. 50g/1¾oz sultanasHome-made walnut and sultana loaf ingredients
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Instructions
  1. In a measuring jug, stir the yeast and sugar into the warm water. Leave for 10 minutes for the yeast to begin working
  2. In a large mixing bowl add the flour. Make a well in the centre
  3. Add the liquid and knead until a smooth ball of dough is formed (I used my Kenwood mixer with dough hook attachment on a low speed for about 10 minutes, but you can do it by hand on a floured work surface for about 20 minutes)
  4. Cover the mixing bowl with cling film or put it into a large, clear plastic bag and leave in a warm place until the dough has doubled in size.
  5. Add the salt, chopped walnuts and sultanas and knead lightly until the fruit & nuts are evenly distributed through the dough
  6. Place in a greased loaf tin (or in a well-floured banneton like I did) and re-cover and allow to prove again until doubled in size
  7. Preheat the oven to 260ºC/500ºF/Gas mark 10, put an empty roasting dish on the bottom shelf of the oven and fill a cup with cold water and set aside
  8. Once the loaf has risen, if using a banneton, grease a baking sheet and gently decant the loaf on to it, trying not to knock any air out of it
  9. Quickly & carefully pour the cup of water into the roasting dish before putting the loaf into the oven
  10. After 10 minutes, turn the oven down to 200ºC/ 400ºF/Gas mark 6
  11. Bake for a further 20-25 minutes before taking it out of the oven
  12. Leave to cool on a wire rack for at least half an hour before use
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Cakes & Bakes: Fig, walnut and blue cheese loaf

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sliced fig, walnut and blue cheese loaf

It’s been a while since I shared a bread recipe – this one is for a fig, walnut and blue cheese loaf. It’s a recipe I devised myself and the resulting loaf is a great accompaniment to a cheese board or ploughman’s lunch.

Cakes & Bakes: Fig, walnut and blue cheese loaf

Yield: 1 x 1kg loaf

Cakes & Bakes: Fig, walnut and blue cheese loaf

Ingredients

  • 175g/6oz sourdough starter (recently refreshed)
  • 250g/9oz tepid water
  • 325g/11½oz strong white flour
  • 75g/2½oz wholemeal flour
  • 125g/4½oz figs, chopped
  • 50g/1¾oz chopped walnuts
  • 5g/1tsp sea salt
  • 50g/1¾oz blue cheese, cubed (something like a Dolcelatte, Gorgonzola or Roquefort)

Instructions

  1. Mix the starter and water in a large mixing bowl
  2. Add the white and wholemeal flours and combine until there are no lumps
  3. Fold in the figs, walnuts and sea salt until mixed evenly throughout the dough
  4. In the bowl, knead the dough gently for 10 seconds
  5. Leave to rest for 10 minutes
  6. Repeat this kneading & resting process another 3 times
  7. Cover the bowl with a damp tea towel or cling film and leave the dough in a warm place to prove for an hour and a half to 2 hours
  8. Knock back and fold in the cubed blue cheese until mixed evenly throughout the dough
  9. Shape the dough into an oblong and put it into a 1kg-size banneton
  10. Cover and allow to prove in a warm place for 3-4 hours (I put my banneton into a large plastic bag which I reuse again & again, but you can get special elasticated, washable banneton covers)
  11. 20 minutes prior putting the loaf in to bake, preheat the oven to 240ºC/475ºF/Gas mark 9
  12. Put an empty, shallow baking tin onto the bottom shelf of the oven
  13. Fill a cup with water and leave on the side near the oven until you're ready to bake the loaf
  14. When proved, turn the loaf out gently onto a large greased baking tray
  15. Carefully score the top with a few diagonal cuts using a serrated knife or lame
  16. Put the loaf on the top shelf of the oven and carefully pour the cup of water into the baking tray on the lower shelf before closing the oven door
  17. After 10 minutes, turn the oven temperature down to 200ºC/400ºF/Gas mark 6
  18. Bake the loaf for a further 20-25 minutes
  19. Check that it's done by tapping the underside of the loaf - it should sound hollow
  20. If not, turn the oven off and leave the loaf in for another 5 minutes
  21. Remove the loaf from the oven and allow to cool on a large wire rack for at least 45 minutes before eating
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