On March 3, 2013, I blogged about the San Francisco-style bread with Walnuts and Figs I had baked. More recently, SallyBR tried that formula, substituting dates for the figs and found it to be very good. Today, I baked another version this time substituting dried sour cherries for the figs. The formula was otherwise the same. The procedures were different only in my treatment of the levain which was adapted to my scheduling needs.
In a stand mixer, mix the flour and water at low speed until it forms a shaggy mass.
Cover and autolyse for 30 minutes
Coarsely chop or break apart the walnut pieces and toast them for 8 minutes in a 300ºF oven. Allow to cool.
Add the salt and levain to the autolyse, and mix at low speed for 1-2 minutes, then increase the speed to medium (Speed 2 on a KitchenAid) and mix for 5 minutes. Add flour and water as needed. The dough should clean the sides of the bowl but not the bottom.
Add the walnuts and the cherries to the dough and mix at low speed until well-distributed in the dough. (About 2 minutes)
Transfer to a lightly floured board, do a stretch and fold, and form a ball.
Place the dough in a lightly oiled bowl and cover tightly.
Ferment at 76º F for 2 1/2 to 3 hours with a stretch and fold at 50 and 100 minutes.
Divide the dough into two equal pieces.
Pre-shape as rounds and rest, covered, for 10 minutes.
Shape as boules or bâtards and place in bannetons. Place bannetons in plastic bags.
Proof at room temperature (68-70º F) for 1-2 hours.
Cold retard the loaves overnight.
The next morning, proof the loaves at 85º F for 2-3 hours.
45-60 minutes before baking, pre-heat the oven to 480º F with a baking stone and steaming apparatus in place.
Transfer the loaves to a peel. Score the loaves as desired, turn down the oven to 460º F, steam the oven, and transfer the loaves to the baking stone.
After 15 minutes, remove the steaming apparatus, and turn down the oven to 435º F/Convection. (If you don't have a convection oven, leave the temperature at 460º F.)
Bake for another 15 minutes.
Turn off the oven, and leave the loaves on the stone, with the oven door ajar, for another 15 minutes.
Transfer the loaves to a cooling rack, and cool thoroughly before slicing.
The crust was crunchy, and the crumb was chewy. The bread is moderately tangy. It is delicious with bursts of tartness when you bite into a cherry. This is a very good bread. Personally, I prefer the version with figs, but your taste my be different. My wife likes the cherry version better, but she says, "I like them both. Yummmm..." My recommendation: Try both.