This Pain aux Noix, loaded with toasted chopped walnuts, is incredibly delicious. What I mean is, it is jump-up-and-down, I-can't-believe-how-tasty-this-is, delicious. The bread is wonderful spread with butter or a soft cheese such as brie. Try topping the cheese with a bit of prosciutto or even a little honey. So good. The bread stays nice and fresh for a couple of days, perhaps from the ground walnuts in the dough. It also makes amazing toast.
Pain aux Noix, or Pane di Noci in Italian, gets much of its gorgeous color from the walnuts. In fact, while the original recipe calls for half whole wheat flour and half white flour, I used all white flour and still got this lovely brown interior.
This recipe was introduced to the Bread Baking Babes by Elizabeth, the author of the hilarious Blog from OUR Kitchen. She found an old copy of the book, Auberge of the Flowering Heart by Roy Andries De Groot. It was published in 1973 and chronicles the author's experience in an Alpine French country inn. It also includes the recipes for the meals he enjoyed while staying there. I had never heard of the book, and now I'm totally obsessed with ordering a copy. Elizabeth also found a version of the recipe in The Italian Baker by Carol Field, and gained inspiration from both books.
The dough for this bread is really sticky, but easy to work with and shape nonetheless.
The original recipe calls for some ground walnuts and some walnut chunks. I just pulsed toasted walnut halves a few times in my food processor until I had a nice mixture of both. Can I just tell you? A slice of this bread with butter is just heaven.
Who are the Bread Baking Babes? We are a group of women who get together (virtually) on the 16th of every month to bake a new (to us) loaf of bread. We take turns being the host kitchen and providing the recipe for the bread of the month.
After the recipe, check out the rest of the Babes' takes on this bread (I'll be adding their links as they post).
Note: Elizabeth's recipe also includes some milk powder, ginger, wheat germ, flax seeds, butter instead of olive oil, and vital wheat gluten. She also brushes her loaves with an egg wash.
Auberge Walnut Bread
Makes one large loaf
170 grams walnut pieces
7 grams (one package) active dry yeast
85 grams (1/4 cup) dark honey
320 grams (1 1/3 cups) warm (about 100 degrees F) water
30 grams (2 tablespoons) olive oil
500 grams (3 3/4 cups) bread flour (you can use a mixture of bread and whole wheat flour)
7.5 grams (1 1/2 tsps fine sea salt)
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Spread the walnut pieces in a baking sheet and toast them in the oven for about 7 minutes. Let the walnuts cool. Pulse them them in a food processor until you have both crumbs and medium pieces.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer, add the yeast, honey, and warm water. Stir and let stand for about 10 minutes.
- Add the olive oil, flour, sea salt, and walnut pieces. Stir with a dough whisk or wooden spoon until the ingredients are combined. Knead with the dough hook for about 5 minutes, until the dough is fairly smooth.
- Place the dough into an oiled bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Let rise until doubled, about 75 minutes.
- Lightly flour your work surface and turn the dough out without deflating it.
- Shape the dough into a log and place it onto a piece of parchment paper. Cover with oiled plastic wrap and let rise until doubled, about 60 minutes.
- Preheat the oven, with a baking stone (if you have one) on the middle rack, to 400 degrees F. Place a broiler or another type of pan under the stone.
- When the dough has doubled, slide it, parchment and all, onto the stone. If you don't have a baking stone, use a baking sheet and place it on the center rack.
- Toss a cup of ice cubes into the broiler pan. Shut the oven door.
- Bake for 10 minutes. Reduce the oven temperature to 350 degrees F and bake for an additional 40 minutes.
- Cool on a wire rack.