Sunday, January 30, 2011

Give Us This Day...Walnut Rosemary Loaves

To be honest, the first time I made this recipe I was lulled into inattention by the description in Cooking Light magazine.  They described a classic technique, easy shaping and simple ingredients that even an inexperienced bread baker could handle.  That was me!  Inexperienced!  Perfect, so I proceeded with the recipe and was not paying close enough attention to what I was doing.  Originally run in the magazine under the heading, Walnut and Rosemary Loaves, and yielding a total of two loaves of bread, I was under the impression that following this recipe carefully would yield me one walnut loaf and one rosemary loaf.  I could not understand how I was going to be able to seperate them if it all went into the same bowl in the process of making the bread.

Duh.  I hope that gives you some insight as to how inept I was in the early days of my bread making.

I have since come to love the fact that this recipe results in a total of two loaves of bread both with the wonderful combination of piney rosemary and robust walnuts.  Once, in a dramatic display of why you should always check your ingredients before you begin, this recipe was made over into a pair of pecan and sage loaves.  A wonderful accident!  I got bold after that serendipitous combination and tried walnuts and thyme once as well.  Very nice indeed.

The other thing I love about this recipe is that it is already measured for two loaves, so you don't need to double everything in your head as you go and hope you don't mess up halfway through.  I love to keep one for dinner and take one to deserving neighbor just in time for dinner.  Yum!

Walnut and Rosemary Boules (pronounced boo-lay, french for ball.  Makes you sound kinda cheffy!)

2 cups warm milk (whatever % you have will work)
1/4 cup warm water
3 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons butter, melted
2 teaspoons salt
2 packages dry yeast (or about 4 1/2 teaspoons)
5 1/2 cups all purpose flour, divided
1 cup chopped walnuts
3 tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary (fresh is better but dried will work, just use less)
1 large egg, lightly beaten
Cooking Spray
1 tablespoon yellow cornmeal

Egg Wash Glaze (can be omitted, but it gives the bread a nice shiny appearance)
1 tablespoon milk
1 large egg, lightly beaten

1.  Whisk together your milk, water, sugar, butter and salt in a large bowl.  Add the yeast, stir with a whisk; let stand 5 minutes.  Add 2 cups of the flour, stir with a whisk.  Cover with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place for 15 minutes.

2.  Add 2 1/2 more cups of the flour, walnuts, rosemary and 1 egg, stirring until combined.  Turn dough out onto a floured surface and knead it for 10 minutes adding additional flour to prevent the dough from sticking to your hands.  Don't be shy about adding the flour.  Add it in 1/4 cup handfulls slowly to avoid adding too much and making the dough stiff.

3.  Place dough in a large bowl coated with cooking spray and turn the dough to coat all sides with spray.  Cover it again with plastic wrap and let it rise for 1 hour.  Poke it with your finger after an hour.  If the dent remains, then it has risen enough.

4.  Punch down the dough.  Turn it out onto a floured surface.  Cut it in half and shape each portion into a round by turning the edges under.  Place loaves on a baking sheet dusted with cornmeal.  You can also use a silicone baking mat here and omit the cornmeal.  Spray the tops of the loaves lightly with cooking spray, cover with plastic wrap and let rise again in a warm place for 30 minutes or until the loaves have doubled in size.  My favorite spot is a sunny window.

5.  Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

6.  Whisk together the milk and the egg for the glaze. Brush over the loaves generously.  If you don't have a brush you can use a paper towel to glop it over the tops of the bread.  Use a sharp knife and make a 4 shallow slices in a tic tac toe pattern on the tops of each loaf.  This makes it look gorgeous but serves no culinary purpose so if you're shy about cutting too deep then skip this part.

7.  Place loaves in the oven and immediately reduce the oven temperature to 375 degrees.  Bake for 40 minutes.  Let stand on a cooling rack for 20 minutes before attempting to slice.  If you rush into this one the bread will get smooshed if it's too hot when you try and slice it.  Patience!

A little heads up.  This bread is another simple set of directions to follow, but allow yourself at least 2 1/2 hours to complete this recipe.  You don't need any special skills, just some time and a little patience.  It's great with soup, or toasted with apple butter the next morning...that is, if you have any leftover.


  1. by the by, i love that you are doing this. never having made bread successfully, this has me gearing up to try...

  2. wme...I hope you do and then come back and tell me all about it! Go! Go! Go!