Friday was bread-making day. We like the King Arthur boules1 mighty fine, so the two-year-old and I experimented with a new version. That is, I baked. She got some hands-on experience discovering the physical properties of flour. You should have seen the floor!
Hankering for a savory crust to go with the bacon and pinto beans stew I planned for dinner, I changed this one up–still using the walnuts, but omitting the raisins and adding roasted pumpkin seeds and fresh-frozen oregano.
We love fresh herbs at our house, and buy them often, but I almost never use an entire bunch before it goes bad, so when I buy a bundle for a recipe, I take what I need and freeze the rest in a baggie. On baking day, I take the baggie from the freezer, lop off the quantity I need and chop them to bits, stems and all. Works beautifully, especially in baking.
While not as popular with my main squeeze as the walnut-raisin loaf, this herb and nut recipe is definitely a keeper. The crust turned out extra thin and crunchy, which, combined with the slightly sweet, slightly sour, moist crumb inside made for a delightful texture and taste. The cellular structure remains more even than I would like, but I’ll keep working on that aspect. One day, I will figure out how to get those big fat wholes throughout the bread. Here’s the recipe for this new loaf. The ingredients and procedure are similar to the walnut raisin loaf, but I’ll set it all down here anyway.
Whole wheat walnut pumpkin-seed herb bread recipe
Yield: 12 slices Serving: 1 slice Time: Prep: 45 minutes, in small increments throughout Bake: 45 minutes Overall: 7-8 hours, including proofing and cooling time Oven temperature: 450º Fahrenheit (F) first 15 minutes, then 400º F for 30 minutes Ingredients:
- 6 oz whole wheat wild yeast sourdough stiff levain
- 8 oz filtered water
- 10 oz organic whole wheat flour
- 1 t sea salt
- 1 C organic walnuts, chopped
- 1/3 C organic pumpkin seeds
- 1 T organic fresh-frozen oregano, finely chopped
- Break levain into pieces, add the water and soak for 10 minutes.
- Meanwhile, in a dry cast iron skillet, toast the pumpkin seeds over medium high heat, stirring constantly to prevent scorching. Watch closely, as they caramelize rather quickly at the end. Remove to a cold steel pan, such as a small cookie sheet and spread out to cool.
- Combine flour, salt, walnuts, cooled pumpkin seeds and oregano. Mix thoroughly.
- Add flour mixture into levain and water by hand until thoroughly moistened. Form into a rough ball and let rest 20 minutes.
- Knead dough by hand 10 minutes or by machine 8 minutes. Form into rough ball and place in ungreased bowl, loosely covered, to rise for 3 hours in a cool place, preferably at 60º F.
- Carefully remove dough from bowl, disturbing boule as little as possible and quickly shape into a rough ball. Cover loosely and set to rest 20 minutes.
- While the dough rests, lightly flour a banneton (see common alternatives here ). Place a pizza stone in the oven on the middle shelf and a cast iron pan on the bottom shelf, to receive the hot water, which steams the bread and makes that wonderful crunchy crust we love.
- Following the method shown in the King Arthur video on shaping the bread, gently stretch and shape the dough into a ball.
- Place the dough upside down in the banneton or toweled bowl, cover all with a larger, inverted bowl, and let rise in a warm place for 90 minutes (I use my oven with the light turned on.)
- Remove from the oven and pre-heat the oven at 450º F for 30 minutes. Meanwhile, heat a cup of water on the stove top. Dust a pizza peel lightly with fine corn meal or flour.
- After 30 minutes, gently turn the boule right side up onto the pizza peel. With a pastry brush, dust excess flour from the loaf. With a lame, razor blade or sharp knife, slash the top of the loaf.
- Carefully pour the heated water into the cast iron pan, slip the boule from the peel onto the pizza stone and quickly shut the oven door to keep in the steam.
- Bake 15 minutes at 450º F, then reduce heat to 400º and bake 30 minutes more.
- Using pizza peel, remove boule to cooling rack. Bottom should give a nice “thock” sound when tapped with knuckles.
Let cool completely before slicing, or at a bare minimum, cool 30 minutes.
— ♥ —
1“Sourdough: 100 Percent Whole Wheat Sourdough Bread,” in King Arthur Whole Grain Baking: Delicious Recipes Using Nutritious Whole Grains (Woodstock, VT. The Countryman Press, The King Arthur Flour Company, Inc., 2006), 290-291.