There was a very unusual surprise in store for me at the weekend. After work on Friday, Dom & me got into his Morris Traveller with the weekend bags that we’d packed hastily and blearily that morning, and we set off for a little walking weekend away together. We didn’t have too far to go and the car sprang into life… the only complication was that I didn’t know where we were going, and neither of us had been sensible enough to charge our phones adequately for the battery-demanding google navigation. Dom gave me more and more specific destinations to steer us to, and it was all very baffling right up to the moment where we had driven for miles up a small road in Wales, in the dark and thundering rain, and an old monastery loomed into view. I have to say, although it was a stunning place, the arrival was somewhat more sinister than Dom had probably planned!
This is all only vaguely related to bread… but a weekend away from phone reception and internet (and now social media is my job this feels very strange!) and catching up on reading my favourite magazines and jotting down creative ideas has put me in the mood for rustic recipes. I feel like this walnut, rye and honey bread would go perfectly with a pint of ale, consumed in a cosy semi-underground tavern, like the one in which we spent the weekend, preferably playing Carcassonne, of course.
My variation on Nigel Slater’s Walnut & Honey Bread did the trick:
rye flour 200g, wholemeal flour 75g, strong white flour 175g
easy-bake dried yeast 5g, fine sea salt 1/2 tsp
warm water 300ml, honey 1.5 tbsp
shelled walnuts 50g
- Put the flours into a mixing bowl with the dried yeast and salt, and mix well.
- Warm the water with the honey, then pour into the flour and yeast. Mix the ingredients to form a sticky dough, then tip on to a floured board or work surface. Knead for 4 or 5 minutes.
- Lightly oil the bowl then return the dough to it, cover with a tea cloth or clingfilm, then set aside in a warm place for about an hour, until the dough is half as big again.
- Remove the dough from the bowl, place on a lightly floured board and knead again, briefly, for just a minute or two, incorporating the walnuts as you go.
- Shape the dough, cover and set aside for a further 30 minutes until risen. Set the oven at 220C/gas mark 8. Bake for 30 minutes, until crisp on top. Leave to cool before slicing into it.