Walnut & Oat Bread

Hello from Melbourne!

Yes, I’ve moved again. I actually hate moving (all evidence to the contrary), but Melbourne is a really cool city and I’m happy to be here. Much as I loved my time in beautiful Byron Bay, it was time for a change. So here I am. Back to being new to town and living in a hostel. A hostel without an oven.

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Luckily I do have a couple recipes I’ve been saving for you, and hopefully I’ll find a room before long and I’ll be back to baking. I’ve certainly been getting good baking weather here—it seems to be winter already in Victoria. I know it’s spring for some of you, but for me it’s definitely bread-making season. And if I had an oven, I would totally make some of this again.

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Walnut & Oat Bread
1 cup plus 2 teaspoons warm water
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 tablespoons molasses
2 tablespoon honey
1 1/2 teaspoon Salt
1/2 cup wholegrain oats
1/2 cup whole-wheat flour (I used my bread flour mix: a blend of wheat, spelt, oat, bran, flax, and millet)
1/2 cup rye flour
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour,
2 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast
1 cup walnuts, toasted and roughly chopped

1. Proof the yeast: in a large mixing bowl, combine the warm water, oil, molasses, and honey. Stir in the yeast. Let stand until the mixture is nice and foamy, about 10 minutes.

2. Once your yeast has proofed, stir in the rye flour, the whole-wheat flour, the salt, and the oats.

3. Beat in the all-purpose flour 1/2 c at a time until dough begins to leave the sides of the bowl and cohere in a rough ball. Put the spoon aside, lightly flour your hands, and start kneading, adding more flour by the tablespoon as necessary. Knead and add flour until you have a dough that is only slightly sticky. I like to do this in the mixing bowl because I think it’s easier, but you can of course transfer the dough to a floured countertop instead. Knead in the walnuts at the end.

4. Brush the dough lightly with oil, cover the bowl with a cloth, and leave to rise until doubled, about 1 to 1 1/2 hours.

5. Punch down the risen dough to get the air out. Form the dough into a roundish loaf and place on a greased cookie sheet. Cover again and let rise a second time for 45 minutes or 1 hour.

6. Place a rack in the lower third of your oven and preheat your oven to 230 Celsius (about 450 Fahrenheit). Uncover your loaf and make three or four diagonal slashes across the top using a very sharp knife or a good, clean pair of scissors. These should go all the way across the top of the loaf and be about a 1/2-inch deep.

7. When your oven is ready, place a generous handful of ice cubes on the bottom of your oven, either in a skillet or just straight on the oven floor. Bake your bread for 10-15 minutes, until it is a nice golden-brown. Lower the heat to 175 Celsius (about 350 Fahrenheit) and continue to bake for another 30-40 minutes, until your bread is very brown and sounds hollow when you tap on it.

8. Let cool for at least 30 minutes to an hour before serving.

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