The Fresh Loaf

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Suas' Buckwheat Walnut Pear Bread

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xaipete's picture

Suas' Buckwheat Walnut Pear Bread

I've been on a buckwheat kick lately and wanted to try Michel Suas' Buckwheat Pear Bread. Suas' book, Advanced Bread and Pastry, poses some problems for me in that its recipes all assume the baker knows what he or she is doing. While I generally know what I'm doing, I don't always remember to do what I know.

I made the levain yesterday, soaked the pears in riesling wine for an hour this morning, and then completed dough. The recipe didn't specify whether to dice the dried pears, but fortunately I was able to find some information about it on the SFBI site and figured out they were suppose to be diced. Still, I didn't know whether the weight of the pears was before or after soaking. I used the before soaking weight, and that was probably a mistake. The final dough was pretty sticky, and although not unmanageable, I think I would have been better off if the dough had been a bit firmer. Another thing that the formula doesn't tell you is how to assemble the final dough. After I had dumped everything in the mixer bowl, I thought, "I should have mixed the water with the levain before putting in the rest of the ingredients." That was a good thought but unfortunately I thought it a little too late. Anyway, I mixed everything up as best I could, but had trouble getting the pears and walnuts incorporated during the final minute of mixing and had to work them in by hand; the final dough was pretty sticky. The dough took about 2 hours to double. I shaped it into 3 rounds and let them rest 30 minutes, then formed them into loaves for my mini pans. I wasn't interested in making my loaves into the recommended pear shape--I'm way too utilitarian for that. I let my loaves proof for 1 hour and then baked them with steam at 400º for 35 minutes.

The crumb is a slightly spongy and a little wetter than I think it is suppose to be. Perhaps I under- or over-mixed the dough. You can see darker and lighter parts in the crumb; I think that is probably owing to my failure to incorporate the levain and water at the beginning. The pear taste is very prominent but not overwhelming; the buckwheat taste is very subtle. If nothing else, these little loaves will make great toast.

buckwheat pear bread


39 g buckwheat flour

138 g bread flour

174 g water

1/8 t yeast

1/8 t salt


Final Dough:

280 g bread flour

135 g water

11 g salt

3 1/2 g yeast

39 g toasted walnuts

92 g dried, diced pears reconstituted for 1 hour in white wine


My interpretation of how to put this bread together:

Make the levain 12 hours beforehand. Mix the levain with the water for the final dough, add in the remaining ingredients except the nuts and pears, and knead on speed 2 until you achieve improved mix (window pane forms but breaks when stretched). Add the pears and walnuts on speed 1 after the dough has been developed.

Let ferment at room temperature until double, about 2 hours. Preshape into 3 pieces and let rest for 30 minutes. Form into mini-loaves and let proof for about 1 hour. Bake in a 400º oven with steam for about 35 minutes.



SylviaH's picture

A lot of very  nice ingredients went into these loaves and I bet they would make some great bread pudding too if you don't finish them all off.


xaipete's picture

There not so terrible, just not as nice as I hoped.


jleung's picture

I wonder if diced fresh pears soaked/poached in white wine might work as well; not sure if I will be able to find dried pears around here.

- Jackie

xaipete's picture

You could used another type of dried fruit, e.g., peaches or apricots.


dghdctr's picture

Hi Pamela,

I think the bread must have been good -- you had decent height on the loaves and the crumb structure basically looks good.

The "darker-and-lighter" parts you refer to are almost certainly a result of mixing in the walnuts only partly in the mixer, and then later by hand.  Walnut skins will dye the dough a sort of purplish grey (at least I think so -- I am slightly color blind).  If the walnuts are blended in slowly by machine at the end of the mix, the distribution is even enough that the dough gets dyed evenly.  If you do it by hand, the color may look a little tie-dyed.  A similar effect occurs when you try to mix in olives.

Planetary mixers (I think you have a KitchenAid?) are often just bad at incorporating nuts, seeds, or dried fruit evenly at the end of the mix.  Don't blame yourself for it -- you did everything that was reasonable to do.  Tell someone who likes your bread baking habit to get you an SP-5 spiral mixer from Michel Suas as a gift.

With regard to the "stickiness" -- a dough can be sticky without being too wet if its sugar content is significant.  I'm just guessing here, but those dried pears soaked in reisling probably had a lot of sugar that was donated to your dough.  Or the dough may have just been wet.

xaipete's picture

The loaves did have great volume (a lot of oven spring), maybe you are correct: the light and dark comes from the walnut skins (I knew that--wonder why I didn't think of it?).

Perhaps the dough's stickiness did come from the sugar in the soaked pears. They did disintegrate into a sticky mass when I incorporated them. What is the fix for that?

Where can I buy an SP-5? I don't see it on the SFBI site.


dghdctr's picture

I didn't realize your pears disintegrated.  One other option you have is to hold back the soaked fruit altogether and mix the dough, adding the walnuts to the mixer at the end (1st speed -- be patient) and only mixing until evenly dispersed.

Then take the dough right out of the bowl and flatten it into a rough rectagle.  Distribute the fruit evenly over the dough and fold it like a letter in one direction, and then again in a different direction.  Let it bulk ferment 20-30 minutes and then perform another set of folds.  That should do the job, but you can fold another time or two if you wish,depending upon the consistency of the dough.

That's how I fold in cheese crumbles or small cheese cubes if I don't want them broken apart.

BTW, I was joking about the SP-5.  If you're really interested, go to Michel's baking equipment site -- called TMB Baking.  I think the SFBI site has a link, but you can google it.  Make sure you're sitting down when they quote you a price -- I paid $1000 back in 2003.  I'm sure they're more expensive now.

Also, you should ask Susan over at Wild Yeast Blog about using it vs. a KitchenAid.  She uses both -- she'll help you figure out if it is worth the price.


xaipete's picture

Thanks for the folding information! I didn't think about the difference between incorporating nuts and small whole fruits, e.g., raisin, vs. cut up pieces of delicate fruite, e.g., pears. Also, my pears weren't leathery, but pretty soft. I probably should have soaked them for less time because of their condition. I never thought about that before so this is a big help for the future.

I'll send Susan an email and see what she has to say. Between writing my original post and now, I found TMB site and emailed them for information.