The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Dan Lepard's Walnut Bread

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Nathan's picture
Nathan

Dan Lepard's Walnut Bread

I have to say that I'm a sucker for a nice piece of walnut bread topped with a slice of goat cheese and a dribble of honey. Although I have tried a few other formula's for this bread, I always seem to come back to this one from p. 111 of Dan Lepard's The Handmade Loaf. For those of you that aren't familiar with this book, I highly recommend it. Dan's photography and written word are beautiful. The formula's are clear and concise and the information on how to create a natural leaven is straightforward and supported by step-by-step pictures of the process. Many of you might also find his mixing technique quite interesting. It was The Handmade Loaf which initiated me on the sourdough journey I'm still on today. Thank you Dan for the inspiration.


In my humble opinion, what sets this walnut bread apart from the rest is the addition of a walnut paste made with walnuts, honey, water and a bit of butter. It infuses the bread with a rich walnut flavor. I basically follow the formula as written, except that I've increased the hydration a tad and I leave out the fresh yeast. I also substitute my white levain at 60% hydration which I use for all my naturally-leavened breads.


As with the other sourdough breads I make, I always follow the same hand-mixing procedure. An hour before my levain is ready, I mix the flours and liquid and autolyse for an hour. I then weigh out the corresponding amount of levain on top of the previosuly mixed dough, setting aside the remaining levain to feed while my bread is bulk fermenting. I lift the mixed dough and levain out of the bowl and place it on my working surface. At this point I fold the dough over on itself a couple of times to inclose the levain. After patting out the dough a bit I sprinkle the salt on it. Thanks to the 1-hour autolyse the dough has already begun to develop and all it needs is around 2-4 minutes of streching and folding for it to reach a moderate gluten development. I then bulk ferment for around 2 1/2 hours (depending on the temperature in my flat) with two folds at 50-minute intervals. Finally I divide, rest and shape dough and immediately put it in the refrigerator for a retarded final proofing. Given my schedule, I always do the mixing and bulk fermenting in the afternoon so I can do the final retarded proofing at night. The following morning, once my oven is pre-heated, I take the bread out of the fridge and stick it directly into the oven.


Here's a shot of the the bread cooling:



...and the crumb:


Comments

dmsnyder's picture
dmsnyder

I also like your photographs - kind of a back-lit effect.


David

Nathan's picture
Nathan

I try to take pictures during the day. The light in the photographs is from the window. I've only got one window in my small apartment, but it's big and let's in a lot of light.

Floydm's picture
Floydm

What a beauty!

Debra Wink's picture
Debra Wink

I love walnut breads. Lovely loaves!

inlovewbread's picture
inlovewbread

Beautiful loaves indeed. I have made this bread before and loved it, however I too would like to substitute my natural leaven in lieu of the fresh yeast. Could you elaborate for me on how you have adapted this formula? I'm also interested in the final hydration- what did you up it to?


Thanks. Congratulations on the perfect scoring too :-)

Nathan's picture
Nathan

Well, what I've done with this recipe is to use 20% pre-fermented flour in the formula in lieu of the fresh yeast. Dan uses a rye levain in the formula, but I just use my trusty white levain @ 60% hydration. Given this there is less rye flour in the total flour. I try to shoot for a total hydration of 68%. You might have to adjust the water in the recipe slightly to compensate for the water content depending on how runny your honey is. In his book, Dan DiMuzio states that honey is about 80% solids and the 20% water should be accounted for in the total hydration. However, seeing as it's a rather small amount in this formula it might not be necessary.


Let me know if you need more information.

Yippee's picture
Yippee

Nathan:


 


Thank you for sharing your wonderful breads with us.  I just placed an order for Mr. Lepard and Hamelman's books because the loaves in your pictures are so attractive and irresistable!


 



In his book, Dan DiMuzio states that honey is about 80% solids and the 20% water should be accounted for in the total hydration.



 


Could you please tell me the page number where I can find this info?  I remember the part that Mr. DiMuzio mentions about the water content in milk but don't recall the honey part. Thank you. 


Yippee

Nathan's picture
Nathan

Yippee. You'll love those two books!


As regards Mr. DiMuzio's information on honey, you'll find it on page 204 at the bottom in the 'Options' section. His book is excellent too. In my opinion, it's the best textbook on bread baking out there.

Yippee's picture
Yippee

Nathan:


I dreamed about your walnut bread last night.  I had this dream probably because the book finally arrived from U.K. yesterday.  In my dream, I was comparing your pictures with the one in the book and I was telling myself:  Nathan's bread looks professional, let me ask him how he mixed the starter.    I never dreamed about bread before.  This must be a sign to tell me that I really should try this formula. Just hope mine will turn out as good looking as yours.


Yippee

Nathan's picture
Nathan

When you start dreaming about breads that means things are getting serious! I'm glad you got the book. Let me know how your bread turns out and if there is anything I can help you with. I'm sure your's will be wonderful.


Good luck!

Yippee's picture
Yippee

Nathan:


Did you realize that you just opened a can of worms by offering help to me?  For those who have helped me here before, they all know that I ask a lot of questions and I keep drilling and won't stop until I get to the bottom line.  Well, I thank you in advance for your help.  Here are my (initial) questions:


 


What's the % of pre-fermented flour used and what's the % of hydration of your final dough (if they are different from the book)?


 



I then weigh out the corresponding amount of levain on top of the previosuly mixed dough



 What do you mean by 'corresponding'?  How much (or what proportion) is it? (Sorry, I have not gone through the book yet.  Please excuse me if it's covered there.)


 



setting aside the remaining levain to feed while my bread is bulk fermenting



Did you refresh (feed) the remaining levain for the next 2 ½  hrs and then used only the remaining amount called for in your formula?  If my understanding is correct, in what ratio (Starter: water: flour) did you refresh it?


 


Yippee


 

Nathan's picture
Nathan

No problem, I'll gladly help you out with anything you need. Let's see if I can answer your questions.


1. I use 20% pre-fermented flour for this formula and a 68% total hydration, though the latter will depend on your flour.


2. I make this formula using 500g of flour -20% of this would be 100g of prefermented flour at 60% hydration (60g water), which would be 160g of levain to be used.


3. The remaining levain (mature culture or starter) that I set aside is what is left over of the ripe levain after mixing the bread. I usually make enough levain to have about 10-25g left after making bread which I refresh for making more bread the following day. I try to refresh during the time my bread is bulk fermenting; it could be anywhere from 15 minutes to 2.5 hours after setting it aside. I feed my levain twice a day using a ratio of 1:2.4:4 (i.e. 10g starter:24g water:40g flour).


I hope this makes sense. If not, let me know.


Nathan

Yippee's picture
Yippee

Nathan:


Now I see what you're doing.  I misunderstood before. My starter is on its second build this morning.  I've adopted Mr. DiMuzio's building methodology.  I plan to build one more time before putting it to use tomorrow morning.  I also dissected the formula using his methodology as well.  Therefore, my %s are a bit diffrent from the book (and yours) since I also accounted for the flour and water in the starter.  I'm building my starter at 80% hydration as the book indicated.  Is there any particular reason you used 60%? 


I haven't made bread for a while.  Thank you for giving me the initiative to start again. Like I said before, I simply couldn't resist the beauty of your breads.


Yippee

Nathan's picture
Nathan

I'll have to go back and re-read Dan Dimuzio's building methodology. I always prefer to write down formulas like those found in Hamelman's Bread. My brain seems to like that method best. I hope I didn't mislead you on the total percentages though. I, like you, also take into account the flour and water in the levain. So, when I said I made the bread with a total hydration of 68% that was including the water in the levain. Likewise, I also subtracted the corresponding amount of levain flour (100g in this case) from the total flour amount in the formula.


I only maintain two starters: one white and one rye (83% hydration). I keep my white starter at 60% hydration because I like working with a 'firm' starter. Some people like to keep their's at 50%, but I prefer 60% hydration because it's easier for me to mix/knead when refreshing.


I'm so glad that I've rekindled your interest. Thank you!


I'm quite tired today -had a late night at work and woke up early. So, again, if my message is not clear please let me know.


Nathan

Yippee's picture
Yippee

thank you so much for taking the time to answer my questions after a long day at work.  I hope you have a relaxing weekend to recharge. 


Since both of us do not use commercial yeast in our formula, our timing would be different from that indicated in the book.  When you finished bulk fermentation after 2.5 hours, what indicator(s) did you look for to conclude that it's complete?  Dough doubled in volume or something else?  Maybe you could give me a hint.   It doesn't look like mine will be doubling within that time frame. Should I wait until it doubles or go ahead to shape and retard and give the dough more time during final proof?   


You mentioned in one of your replies that your dough went straight from fridge to oven.  Could you describe the changes in your shaped dough during final proof?  Again, I'm looking for indicator(s) that shows it's ready. 


The dough is shaped as a boule in the book but yours were batards.  What's your timing and temperature for baking?


Lastly, any suggestions on scoring?


Thank you again and have a good weekend.


Yippee


 

Nathan's picture
Nathan

at all, Yippee. I was just worried that my replies were not making any sense.


As for the bulk fermentation, I base my times on a bulk fermentation temperature of 24-25ºC. I'm lucky to have a spot in my kitchen that stays around this temperature. Of course, the bulk fermentation time will vary according to your room temperature and the strength of your starter. Since I usually do two folds during bulk fermentation it's hard for me to say whether the dough doubles in size. What I look for is some sort of activity in the dough when I do the folds. When I fold the dough for the first time what I notice is that the dough has begun to expand and is slightly 'puffy' (from the creation of CO2 I imagine), which to me means that the fermentation process is underway. I also notice the same characteristics when I do the second fold and turn the dough to divide, pre-shape and rest. I think that if you have a healthy starter -my firm starter will quadruple in size in 8 hours at a 1:2.4:4 ratio- and a constant temperature of 24-25ºC, 2.5 hours of bulk fermentation should be enough. However, and I'm sure you know this, if your room is colder than this your dough will have to bulk ferment longer. How much longer I wouldn't know. I wish I could, but I'm not that knowledgeable yet. What I do know now is that I let the dough dictate fermentation times, rather than adhering to a timetable. For example, since it's quite hot in the summer here, I use colder water, mix the dough less and do more folds so that I can 'control' it during the bulk fermentation. Check out Mr Dimuzio's section on calculating dough temperature. Doing so will help you obtain the desired dough temperature for the formula (24ºC in the case for this formula) and improve your results.


As far as shaping goes, I tend to do whatever I think I need more work on to improve. I really have trouble consistently making nice looking batards, so I've been working on this shape lately. Boules, ovals or batards are nice with this loaf. I suggest you shape and score them however you like.


I baked these 650-gram batards for about 45 minutes total. I preheat the oven to 250ºC (the highest it will go) and once I load and steam I immediately turn it down to 210ºC. But every oven is different, so you'll have to determine baking times and temperatures based on how your oven bakes. I normally have to cover my bread halfway through the bake given the size of my oven and the intense heat from the top coils. Also you'll need to be careful with this bread since it has honey. The bread will brown quicker than a lean dough. WIth that said, I do like to bake my bread dark. In my opinion, it makes a better crust, enahnces the flavor and helps the bread keep longer.


I hope I answered your questions. Let me know if there's anything else I can help you with.


Nathan

Yippee's picture
Yippee

Can't wait to let you know how my breads turned out.  Please visit my blog to see the result of our collaborative efforts.  Thank you very much again for your help.


Yippee

Nathan's picture
Nathan

Floyd, thank you Debra!

Paddyscake's picture
Paddyscake

probably the only item to enhance more..blue cheese!!! Your loaves are beautiful!


Betty

Nathan's picture
Nathan

A nice blue cheese or Stilton would be a great accompaniment to this bread.

JoeVa's picture
JoeVa

Walnuts bread is one of my favorites! Great bread!


I do not have Dan's book, which flours does he use?


Giovanni

Nathan's picture
Nathan

Dan uses a combination of white (70%), whole rye (20%) and wholemeal (10%) flours.

hansjoakim's picture
hansjoakim

Outstanding bake, Nathan!


Dan's book is one of those that I've wanted to get hold of for the longest time. I've heard many great things about his formulas, his stories from various bakeries and his brilliant photography.


But I must say, you're a most impressive baker and photographer yourself, Nathan! That walnut loaf looks perfect.

Nathan's picture
Nathan

...so much, Hans, for your kind words.I'd say the same about you too! I always enjoy your posts.


You should pick the book up when you get a chance. You won't be disappointed.

JeremyCherfas's picture
JeremyCherfas

And it is walnut season here! Will have see whether we can muster the energy to make this with freshly shelled walnuts.


Great loaves, great write-up, great hotos. Thanks.


Jeremy

Nathan's picture
Nathan

Yes, I love this time of year. The markets here in Madrid have tons of walnuts and figs this time of year and the energy used in shelling the walnuts pays off in the final product, at least that's what I tell myself!

JeremyCherfas's picture
JeremyCherfas

Thanks to the encouragement of Nathan and everyone else and their enthusiasm for this loaf, I went ahead and made it last Thursday. Finally got around to writing it up at my blog today, and I have to say, the loaf is every good as promised, keeps wonderfully, and the recipe is yet another keeper.


Maybe when Dan's book arrives I'll try the more complicated version, but the simpler version in The Independent works just fine.


Thanks all


Jeremy

Nathan's picture
Nathan

Jeremy! It's a great bread, isn't it? By the looks of it, it seems as though the only difference in the two formula's is the addition of rye levain. It shouldn't be that more complicated for you. I'm glad you liked it.


By the way, I loved your blog entry. Great work.


Nathan

JeremyCherfas's picture
JeremyCherfas

I have a plain white levain, and a 25% wholemeal. I suppose I could build a rye one, but I'm not sure I'll bother.


Jeremy