The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

An Alternate "Rustique" - Caramelized Hazelnut and Blueberry Spelt Sourdough

Shiao-Ping's picture

An Alternate "Rustique" - Caramelized Hazelnut and Blueberry Spelt Sourdough

I confess this came as an accident.   When I was scanning Michel Suas' Advanced Bread & Pastry, his Caramelized Hazelnut Squares (page 248) caught my attention.   I sometimes make for my kids Hazelnut Praline Semi-Freddo; nothing pleases my boy more than that Italian ice cream.   Suas' formula to me is like incorporating a secrete ingredient in a delicious ice cream into a bread.  I was however not sure about having to prepare 2 sponge preferments plus 2 levains just to make this "Squares."  

Then, came MC's posting of her beautiful Blueberry Bread with Spelt Starter a couple of days ago, I found myself the reason of embarking on an experiment.  


                                                   caramelized hazelnuts (or hazelnut praline)  

I started my project after dinner last night around 7:30.  Instead of fresh blueberries that MC used for her bread, I thought if I used frozen ones perhaps there would be less of a chance of squashing them during mixing - bad plan.  There was more juice/water that came out of the frozen berries (than the fresh ones) that my dough was literally drenched in liquid and I had to use tissue to soak up some of the liquid.  What was supposed to be a 69% hydration turned out to be at least 85%.  Hence, the rustic "Squares!" - there was no way of any shaping of any kind!  If it were possible, I wasn't up to it.  It was a scary sticky mess:


                    the sticky dough mess                                                      the "shaped" dough

I ended up putting the mess on a piece of parchment paper and stapled the edges of the paper to try and hold the dough in.  The dough was in that position sitting on my counter-top from 9:30 last night to 11:30 this morning when it was loaded onto the oven (14 hours proofing!).     

My formula  

230 g starter at 75% hydration

150 g spelt flour

220 g white flour

40 g honey

206 g water

110 g caramelized hazelnuts*

140 g frozen blueberries

9 g salt

Flaked & slivered almonds for dusting  

*  Suas' caramelized hazelnut formula:

80 g hazelnuts (lightly roasted)

27 g sugar

10 g water

10 g butter  

*Add sugar and water to a sauce pan, cook until the mixture reaches 116 C/240 F, then add roasted hazelnuts, stirring constantly; when the sugar/water has started to caramelize, add butter to slow down the browning.  Move the sauce pan away from heat when the desired coloration has reached.   Note:  I used Suas' formula for the caramelized hazelnuts just to try it out but I have since found that it is just as easy without using the butter.  Simply heat the sugar/water mixture to 130 C/266 F or until it has browned, then add hazelnuts, stir for a few seconds, then take the sauce pan away from heat to cool down.  Half way through cooling down, spread the nuts apart so they don't stick together.  

It's a bit tricky to bake this sourdough as the flaked and slivered almonds that I used for dusting brown very quickly in high heat.  The dough was baked in 230 C/446 F for 10 minutes, then 200 C/390 F for 10 minutes, and 170 C/340 F for 30 minutes.  This is what came out of my oven at mid-day today:  


        Caramelized Hazelnut & Blueberry Sourdough  


                                    The crumb  

This sourdough is no "rustique" at all.  It is my kind of hog heaven!  The crumb is delicious - soft, moist and very flavorsome.  I am a happy Vegemite today.     


                                                                               my kind of hog heaven!


                    simply delicious!




SylviaH's picture

Shiao-Ping, Beautiful, gorgeous boule!  I can just taste it!


Nomadcruiser53's picture

That loaf looks delicious. Nicely done. Dave

ehanner's picture

Very nice Shiao-Ping.


jleung's picture

I'm sure it must taste fabulous too.

- Jackie

Shiao-Ping's picture

Hi Jackie

Thank you for your comment.  Do you find the study of molecular genetics and microbiology helps you in bread making?  My daughter is thinking of doing bio-tech engineering next year.


jleung's picture

Hi Shiao-Ping:

I think it allows me to better understand the science behind bread making, particularly now since I'm learning more about naturally leavened breads (balance of wild yeast and bacteria, acetic vs. lactic acid, etc.). Developing and optimizing protocols for experiments, and having to measure chemicals by fractions of a gram routinely at work put me in the "weigh your ingredients!" camp fairly quickly; I suppose my geeky love for math and science also helps me better appreciate baker's percentages and formula proportions. Bread baking is so "fundamental and elemental" (as in flour + water + salt + yeast at its simplest) and yet filled with infinite subtleties and complexity. It requires intuition, keen observation and attention to detail. I can't help as a hoping-to-be-a-real-scientist-one-day but be drawn to it. :)

At the same time though, I believe that one doesn't necessarily require highly technical, academic knowledge at the molecular level to make great bread. In fact, although I nurture yeast at home, I have to be especially careful that I'm not swarming with yeast when I work with my tissue cultures lest I contaminate all of my work with yeast!

My thesis project examines host-pathogen interactions but I have several friends who are pursuing more of a biotechnology/bioengineering career and loving it. Does your daughter have any ideas as to where she wants to go, or know more specifically what she wants to do in the biotech engineering field?


p.s. As an aside, I would have to say that being a graduate student in the biological sciences can be detrimental to my bread making because I spend a significant amount of time working in the lab. There are days when I'd rather spend 14+ hours baking loaves and loaves of bread instead!

Shiao-Ping's picture

Hi Jackie

You explained microbiology and bread baking eloquently and beautifully.  I, too, find that the love of math and science allows me to grasp baker's percentages and formula proportions quite easily.  However, I have too much "intuition" which often gets me into trouble - for one, I very rarely follow any given recipes because I like things unexpected or never seen any where.  I feel if I follow a recipe the best my work would look like is as in the book.  Not that that's any problem; it's more that it is not much fun.   You can't believe the amount of breads that I throw away (failed experiments); Polly, my dog, is my best companion. 

Thank you for your comment.


Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

Beautiful and clever!