The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Pearl's Walnut Levain, Portuguese Sweet Bread

beenjamming's picture

Pearl's Walnut Levain, Portuguese Sweet Bread

Yesterday, I gave my back from the dead starter a workout and made some of the Pearl's walnut levain from Artisan Baking. I turned out really well and is mostly gone already! The dough was pretty stiff, but really easy to handle as a result. I was surprised that i didn't end up with any char walnuts poking out, but luckily the dough proof around any nuts near the skin.

the crust was thick and chewy and the crumb was tight for levain, but still resonably open. I'm still in love with the purple streaks from the walnuts' oil. Purple is one of those colors that doesn't appear naturally all to often in food, especially baked goods, that it always catches my attention.

The insides:

And last thursday, I made some portguese sweet bread from BBA to take with me to Lake Placid last weekend. The bread was a hit and make some seriously incredible toast. I was expecting to be pretty apathetic to this bread, but it really surprised me. Its super light and fluffy, pleasantly sweet and the extracts make it smell amazing.

I didn't thoroughly degas, and ended up getting these really cool looking gluten stalagmites by the crust. Pretty cool, eh?

I liked how the Pearls walnut levain turned out so well that today i'm making their Pane Coi Santi and maybe I'll even get to blog about it quick enough to enter bread baking day 2. time will tell and the dough will dictate!


browndog's picture

Beautiful stuff, beenjamming. I want to try that walnut levain soon. Did you retard the dough to get the blisters? Any tips or did you find it a straightforward process?

Portugese sweet bread has been on my to-make list for about 25 years (really.) Which extracts does your recipe call for? Nothing makes me happier than pouring about half a bottle each of vanilla and almond extracts into a bowl of flour and sugar..

beenjamming's picture


both breads were pretty straightforward. I did retard the dough for an hour in the fridge, solely because I wasn't going to get home from work in time to bake it if it had stayed at room temp. The portuguese sweet bread was straight from bba without shortening but 2x the butter. It calls for vanilla, lemon and orange extract, but almond would be a very welcome addition! maybe even top the loaves with slivered almonds...hmm. 

susanfnp's picture

Yes, those breads are really beautiful. The crust color of the walnut bread is stunning! And I love the composition of your photos, especially the top two. I hope it will not offend you if I ask whether you shot them that way originally or gave them a good cropping in the editor? Either way, just great.


zolablue's picture

I agree, beautiful loaves and photos. 

Out of curiosity, have you ever watched the movie, Lake Placid?  It is hilarious!  Very tongue in cheek humor.

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

and this has been happening a lot lately. What are you posting with? --Mini Oven

beenjamming's picture

susan- those photo are unaltered. some kind light was coming in through my window and i just kind of followed my instincts compositionally. guess looking at all the other pretty bread pictures on this site has paid off!

zola-you mean the one about the mammoth alligator living in up state ny? haha yeah, that movie is one piece of work.

mini- i posted the photos on my flickr account then linked them in with the javascript button on this site's editor