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California Walnut-Rosemary Bread

Yield: 2 large loaves

For this recipe you will need:
For the Sponge:

  • 1 (¼-ounce) package (2¼ teaspoons) active dry yeast
  • 1¾ cups lukewarm milk
  • ½ pound (2 cups minus 2 tablespoons) unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons honey

For the Dough:

  • ¾ pound (3 cups) unbleached bread flour
  • ½ cup walnut oil
  • 1 tablespoon fine sea salt
  • 6 ounces (1¼ cups) walnuts, lightly toasted and chopped
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped rosemary

Make the sponge: In the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat together the yeast, milk, flour, and honey until the mixture is smooth and creamy, about 3 minutes. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rest at warm room temperature for about 1 hour, or until bubbly.

Make the dough: Beat about half the bread flour into the sponge, then beat in the oil and salt. Add the walnuts, rosemary, and the remaining bread flour, a little at a time, until a soft, shaggy dough is formed that clears the sides of the bowl, 5 to 6 minutes.

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and gently knead until smooth and springy, about 3 minutes, adding a bit more flour as necessary to prevent sticking. Push any walnuts that fall out back into the dough. The dough should be moist and soft, yet firm enough to hold its shape. Place the dough in a oiled bowl, turn over to coat completely with oil, cover with plastic wrap, and let rise at warm room temperature until doubled in bulk, about 2 hours.

Turn the dough out onto the work surface and divide into 2 portions. Shape each portion into a round or oblong loaf. Place the loaves smooth side up on a greased or parchment-lined baking sheet or into two lightly oiled (1-pound, 8½ x 4½-inch) medium loaf pans. Cover the loaves loosely with plastic wrap and let stand at room temperature to rise until doubled in bulk, about 45 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 375°F. Bake both loaves for 40 minutes, or until the bread sounds hollow when tapped on the bottom and a thermometer inserted in the center reads 190°F. Cool 5 minutes, then invert onto a wire cooling rack. Cool completely before slicing. Store at room temperature for 1 day, or wrap in aluminum foil and refrigerate up to 5 days (or freeze up to 3 months.)



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