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The days have been long and cold and filled with snow and ice here in the northeast. It’s the kind of weather that makes you want to cook low-simmering stews and fragrant soup and fill the house with the scent of delicious food. So early this morning, with another storm heading my way, I hauled out a much-used soup pot, a couple bags of split peas, and a frozen ham bone leftover from the holidays and set to work. I now have a huge cauldron of bay leaf scented pea soup for dinner tonight – and several dinners after that, if we lose power.
And you know what? Even though I swore off baked goods until I lost all my “Christmas pounds”, today I’m throwing caution to the wind: it’s an I-really-want-some-fresh-bread for dinner kind of day. Thank goodness there isn’t a rule about the best kind of bread to eat with pea soup because I’m hungry for walnut bread.
The dough took a long time to rise in my very cold kitchen even though I put it in a warm oven (I preheated the oven to 100ºF, the lowest setting, then it turned off and aired it out for a few seconds to bring the temperature down to about 80ºF). I made a long cut across the top of the dough with a very pointy knife just before I baked it. But you can see the in picture below how it didn’t open evenly.
The side that is wider was on the hotter side of my oven. Even when I try to stick the whole pan there so it’ll bake evenly, it doesn’t work. As some of you may remember in my Babka escapades, the hot spot of an oven can really affect the final look of your bread. You might also notice that my walnut bread isn’t quite as high and round as the Babka; the finely ground walnuts I added to the walnut bread dough make the finished loaf a little heartier – and a little less high.
But I have to say, even if it is a little crooked, like it smells incredible when it’s baking in the oven and it looks beautiful when it’s comes out..
My recipe makes a large bread that you can bake in a 9 by 5-inch loaf pan. It has a rich flavor and a complex, hearty texture from the finely ground nuts that enrich the dough. It’s perfect toasted for breakfast and topped with fruit preserves and nut butters, or served along side cheese or soup, and it makes a great sandwich with leftover roast chicken. Of course, tonight I’ll be enjoying it for dinner with my pea soup, but I know the left overs won’t be around for long.
Allow the bread to rise slowly. Don’t put it in a place that is too warm; the ideal temperature is about 80ºF. A fast rise will contribute to an unstable bread that is likely to fall. The xanthan gum needs time to “set” in gluten-free breads. Also, try not to let the bread rise above the pan before you bake it, because this will also contribute to instability. It should be no more than 1 inch below the top of the pan. You can use non-diary milk substitutes. If you don’t want to use the gelatin, add extra egg yolk or leave out entirely.
Makes one 9 x 5 inch loaf
1 cup plus 3 tablespoons skim or 1 or 2% milk (or milk substitute) (110º F)
1/4 cup Canola oil
2 large eggs (room temperature
2 2/3 cups Bread Flour Mix*
1/3 cup finely ground walnut
3 tablespoons sugar
2 1/4 teaspoons xanthan gum
1 1/2 teaspoons unflavored gelatin
3/4 teaspoon salt
1- 1/4 oz. packet active dry yeast granules (not quick rise)
3/4 cup chopped walnuts
- Lightly grease a 9 x 5-inch loaf pan with cooking spray and dust with rice flour. Your bread will rise more dependably when baked in a shiny metal pan that isn’t non-stick.
- Mix eggs and canola oil together in a small bowl and set aside.
- Mix all dry ingredients (except chopped walnuts) in large bowl of electric mixer. Quickly add warm milk and egg and oil mixture to the bowl; mix until just blended. Scrape bowl and beaters, and then beat at high speed for 3 minutes. Mix in chopped walnuts. Spoon dough into prepared pan; cover with a light cloth and let rise in a warm place for 30–40 minutes or until dough just reaches 1/2 inch below top of pan. If you use a warm 80ºF oven to help the bread rise, and you have only one oven, you will have to pull the bread out before it is finished rising in order to preheat the oven to bake it.
- Place rack in center of oven. Preheat oven to 400ºF while bread is rising (do not use a convection oven; bread will brown too quickly).
- Bake bread in center of preheated oven for 10 minutes, cover with aluminum foil (leave a little leave room for bread to rise) and crimp foil tightly around edges so it doesn’t open while bread is baking. Bake another 55 to 60 minutes. Your bread should have a hollow sound when tapped on the sides and bottom, and your instant-read thermometer should register about 200-205°F. Remove bread from oven and turn it onto a rack to cool. You can pre-slice the bread into 16 slices, not including ends. Wrap bread well in plastic wrap and then foil. Store in refrigerator for up to three days or freezer for up to three weeks.
Cook’s Notes: Dry ingredients can be mixed ahead and stored in plastic containers for future use. Do not add yeast until just ready to bake bread.* Find my Bread Flour Mix in the Guide to Flour Mix section of this blog.
©2013 by Annalise Roberts