The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Pain aux Noix (Walnut Bread)

Vilson's picture

Pain aux Noix (Walnut Bread)

This is my first post in the TFL forum. I've been visiting the forum for some time now, and it has inspired me to start experimenting as an artisan home baker. And we all know it can be a little intimidating to send your first post when you have seen so many beautiful pictures of all kinds of breads and descriptions of such refined techniques.

Anyway, after embracing the adventure of starting my own starter (named "João" by my wife, the portuguese translation for "John") and perceiving the art of baking with it, I feel like I am now able to retribute all the help I got from you guys.

Well, let's getit on then.

The Bread: Whole Wheat Walnut Bread (Pain aux Noix )

The Recipe:, from King Arthur Flour, with some adjustments.

How I did it:

First, after taking João (my 100% hydradion AP flour starter) from the refrigerator the night before, and having fed it three times (one after taking it from the fridge, one early the next morning, and the last one three hours later), I took 4 ounces of it and put it in the bowl of my mixer, instead of the instant yeast the recipe called for.

Since I did not know if the brazilian WW flour would work  as a substitute for KAF White Whole Wheat flour, I switched the proportions for WW and AP Flour, using 10 3/4 ounces of AP and 4 5/8 ounces  of WW (the recipe calls for 6 5/8 ounces, but I subtracted 2 ounces on account of the flour in the starter).

I then added all the other ingredients (remembering to reduce 2 ounces from the ammount of milk the recipe called for, also on account of the starter), except the salt, and mixed with the dough hook, on medium speed, for 10 minutes.

Added the salt, and continued mixing for 15 minutes, until the dough was very smooth, showing a very well developed gluten on a windowpane test.

Then, I've let the dough raise for about 4 hours. In spite of the 28° C heat (82° F), it showed very little signs of having raised at all, except for some tiny bubbles on the surface of the dough.

I then opened the dough over a lightly oiled counter and spread the chopped walnuts over it, pressing gently so that they would stick to the dough, rolled it, folded it, and let it rest for 20 minutes.

After that I shaped the dough as a boule, and let it rise for 1,5 hour, preheating the oven to 230° C (450° F) on the last half hour.

Just before bakinng, I decided to experiment with some stencil, using parchment paper straps and corn starch. Last but not least, the slashing: angled and not very deep (I find that, when it comes to the deepness of the slash, less is more, as you will notice in the pictures below).

This was the result: my first Pain aux Noix, with a very nice ear ("grigne"), and a beautiful stencil stripe pattern.

Unfortunately, I didn't have the time to take crumb shots. I had invited some friends over for a brunch and the bread was entirely eaten before I could think of it... Well, I guess that's what home baking is all about, isn't it?

Mebake's picture

nice stenciling, Vilson! the loaf looks very attractive. I'am puzzled by the paleness of the crust grigne.. a crumb shot would tell tales about the fermentation and activities of your starter.

Best take a picture once you cut the loaf open next time :)

Vilson's picture

Thanks for the comment, Mebake!

About the paleness of the grigne, I suppose two things happened: 1) the loaf was a little underproofed when it went to the oven; and 2) I left the steam inside the oven for too long.

Because of 1), I noticed that the oven spring that generaly lasts for 5 to 10 minutes, went on until 20 minutes, when the rest of the crust was already starting to brown.

As to 2),  instead of removing the iron skillet producing steam after 10 minutes, I left it in until the water was all gone, what only happened after 25 minutes. My goal was to get a loaf with a thin crust (although I like a thicker, crispier crust, I noticed that it becomes very "leathery" and  chewy within a day or two). The extended steam time did the trick for me. It also seemed to make the crust a lot shinier (I'm guessing it has to do with the gelatinization of the starch and caramelization of the sugars in it).

As for me, I realy can't tell if the paleness of the grigne is something to aim for, but I liked the gradual tones of brown that the long oven spring produced on it. 

Thanks again for the reply!

Syd's picture

Welcome to TFL Vilson.  :)  That is a very nice loaf you baked there.  I like your stenciling.  With regards to the paleness of the grigne: how long did you bake for and at what temperatures?  Did you turn your oven down after the initial 230C?  It almost looks like the grigne opened, browned, then the loaf continued to rise and the grigne opened further but without enough time to brown. Nice baking.



Vilson's picture

Thanks, Syd!

That's exactly what happened! I am not sure what caused it, but it seemed like the oven spring on this loaf was somehow retarded.

The oven temp was mantained continuously at 230 ºC (lowering to 215 ºC and then rising again at the time I opened the oven door to put more water into the iron skillet and a again to rotate the loaf), and I baked the loaf for about 40 minutes.

It seems like the extended steam time helped the loaf to stay flexible, altough browned, alowing the extended oven spring. I'm sure the fact that the loaf was more on the underproofed side also helped.

Best regards!


Floydm's picture

Awesome loaf, Vilson, and welcome to the site!

Vilson's picture

Thank you, Floydm!

lumos's picture

Lovely, very eye-catching bread, Vilson.  My husband would like the design because it looks rather similar to the uniform of a football team he supports. :p 

.....and welcome to TFL!


Vilson's picture

That's a nice association! Apart from the stripes, it almost resembles the ball too, doesn't it? Thanks for the welcome!

wassisname's picture

Whole wheat walnut sourdough - one of my all-time favorites!  I can almost smell it from here.  Thanks for sharing your bake.