Walnut Bread  

Stage 1

A walnut-sized piece of fully risen bread or pizza dough
1/4 cup warm water (105F-115F)
2/3 cup unbleached all-purpose flour

Break up dough into small bits and add into water; allow to soften for 5 minutes or so. Mix in flour with wooden spoon or dough hook, switching over to kneading by hand if it gets too stiff. Set aside to rise for 8 hours; it will be sticky, springy, and lacy in consistency.

Stage 2

Stage 1, above
1/4 cup warm water
3/4 cup all-purpose flour

This is done more or less the same as stage 1; Mix either by hand or mixer fitted with the dough hook. After it's done, let rise for 4 hours and chill from anywhere to an hour to 8 hours maximum.

Stage 3

1 1/4 cups cool water (78°F or so)
1/2 tsp. SAF Instant Yeast or 3/4 tsp regular yeast
Stage 2, above
3 1/3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 Tbs. kosher salt
8 oz. walnuts, coarsely chopped

Pour water into bowl of mixer and sprinkle yeast; stir by hand to mix. Punch down the Stage 2 starter, break it apart, and add it to the bowl to soften. Add the flour and mix just until incorporated, then let stand for 10 minutes to hydrate.

When ready to knead, sprinkle the salt onto the dough, increase the mixer speed to medium high, and kneed for 5-8 minutes (if not using the mixer, pound it by hand for 10-15 minutes).

After you have finished kneading the dough, turn it out onto a work surface. Press the dough down to flatten it. Sprinkle the walnuts over the dough and fold the dough over on itself a few times. Press it down again and fold it twice more, then knead the dough for a minute or two, just to make certain the walnuts are evenly incorporated.

First Rise:

Transfer to a clean bowl and cover with plastic wrap; let it rise for 1 1/2 hours.

2nd Rise:

Fold it down (don't punch it) and let rise for another 45 minutes before deflating and shaping.

Shaping the Dough:

To shape the dough into a boule, or all, fold the fully risen dough over on itself a few times, turn it out onto a work surface, and gather it together gently between your rounded palms. Work the dough around between your palms, using the unfloured work surface to create tension, until you have a smooth ball.

Final Rise:

The dough can rise in a well-floured large banneton or in a large colander lined with a well floured linen towel. Sprinkle the inside of the banneton or colander with rice flour and turn the walnut dough over into it. The dough’s smooth side will be down. Cover and let rise at room temperature for 1 1/2 hours, or until it is soft and spongy all the way through.

Baking the bread

Position a rack in the lower third of the oven, line it with quarry tiles or a baking stone (leaving about 1 inch free all the way around the tiles), and preheat the oven to 450 F. Put a cast iron or other very heavy skillet on the floor of the oven if it is a gas oven, or directly on the heating element if it is an electric oven. Rub a peel with rice flour. Pour about 1 cup of warm water into a long neck bottle, preferably plastic.

About 2 minutes before you’re ready to put the loaf into the oven, open the oven door, stand back, and pour the water into the hot skillet. Immediately close the oven door to trap the steam.

Invert the bread onto the peel and using a single edge razor blade, quickly slash the bread by cutting a cross in the center and making one short slash from the center out in each of the resulting quadrants.

Immediately slide the bread onto the hot quarry tiles or baking stone and turn the oven temperature down to 400°F. Bake the bread for 40 to 50 minutes, or until deeply browned and the internal temperature of the bread registers 200°F on an instant read thermometer. Remove to a rack to cool completely before cutting.

Source of recipe: Steve Sullivan from Baking with Julia

Walnut Bread