Well, World Bread Day may be almost over for another year, and I know I've already shared with you a wonderful recipe for a beautifully festive loaf, but I couldn't resist mentioning the beautiful creation that was my contribution to last weekend's Thanksgiving meal tonight. This bread has quite possibly the most involved recipe development process out of any that I've made in recent memory - it took a combination of website scouring, grilling fellow foodies on their likes and dislikes, selecting the ingredients and converting them all to a standard weight! Finally, when the whole thing was finally assembled and in the oven, I started acting like an expectant father who's waiting on the birth of a child - I kept pacing from my bedroom (where I was supposed to be doing homework) to the kitchen and back again, peering into the dimly lit appliance through the peep window to check the progress!
By the time the bread was finished, cooled and wrapped up for it's trip to the grandparents' place for dinner, I was beat... and I just hoped that there would be at least a slice left over from Thanksgiving's bread basket so I could photograph the wonderful purple interior!
Yes, I said purple! You see, the obession I had with creating this decorated boule was with adding a combination of walnuts and red wine to the dough. I had no idea if the alcohol would be damaging to the dough's condition (alcohol does not allow for gluten development at the same rate as water or milk) or moisture, and I knew that walnuts often will tint a bread dough blueish just be their volatile oils. What better (or prettier!) way to celebrate? For the dough that formed the cluster of grape leaves on top of the bread (I figured grapes, wine, why not?) I made an entirely different recipe - this one a basic, slightly sweet white bread with saffron infused water. The delicate fragrance and beautiful colour lent a special touch to the recipe that wasn't apparent until the first cut was made!
Decorated Wine and Walnut Loaf
2 fl. oz warm water
1 fl oz (2 tbsp) honey (or raw sugar if vegan)
2 1/4 tsp dry active yeast
3 fl oz warm unswetened almond milk (or regular milk, if you like)
10 fl oz red wine
14.5 oz (4 cups) flour
7 oz (1 1/2 cups) whole wheat flour
1 tsp vital gluten
1/2 tsp nutmeg
2 tsp salt
7 oz (scant 1 3/4 cups) chopped walnuts
2 fl oz boiling water
2 tbsp sugar
1/2 tsp saffron (optional, for colour)
1/4 tsp dry active yeast
2.6 oz (3/4 cup) flour
1 egg white, for glaze (optional for vegan)
In the bowl of a standing mixer fit with the dough hook, combine water, honey and yeast. Allow to stand 10 minutes.
Add almond milk and red wine, mixing well.
Whisk together flours, gluten, nutmeg and salt.
With the mixer on low, add the flour ingredients to the liquids and allow to mix for 12 minutes.
Add the walnuts and mix 2 minutes longer.
Cover the bowl and allow to rest for 2 hours.
Punch dough down and shape into a rough ball.
Place ball seam side up in a well floured towel-lined bowl or couche form. Cover and let rise 1 1/2 hours.
In a medium bowl combine water, sugar and saffron. Allow to steep and cool enough that you can touch it comfortably.
Stir in yeast and allow to stand 10 minutes.
Beat in flour to form a smooth, supple dough. Cover and allow to rise 1 1/2 hours.
Punch dough down and on a piece of parchment, shape the mirror image of a grape cluster from pieces of dough, leaving a small space between balls for rising. You will be flipping it onto the boule so make sure to assemble it backwards.
Preheat the oven to 475F and allow to sit at temperature for 30 minutes.
Turn the boule out onto a lined baking sheet.
Brush the exposed side of the grape cluster with some egg white (or water if vegan) and carefully turn onto the boule.
Brush the cluster with more egg white.
Bake loaf on the lowest rack of the oven for 15 minutes, spritzing the oven walls with water every 5 minutes.
Reduce the temperature to 425F and bake 35 minutes longer.
Cool completely on a rack before slicing, or wrapping in cling wrap and freezing.
Store at room temperature wrapped in cling wrap for up to 5 days, or slice and freeze wrapped in foil.
Amount Per Serving
Total Fat: 4.8 g
Cholesterol: 0.0 mg
Sodium: 5.5 mg
Total Carbs: 23.1 g
Dietary Fiber: 1.7 g
Protein: 4.6 g