Since my parents came over from Italy to spend the holidays with us, I have been baking quite a bit of bread. It is a fact that Italians “cannot eat without bread”, and as I don’t like the bread sold around here, I make my own. I have been making plenty of my easy Ciabatta and Garlic Knots, but since I also love experimenting with flours when I bake bread, I bought some spelt flour with the intention of combining it with walnuts. In the end, I switched to hazelnuts, as they are sweeter than walnuts and I thought they would work perfectly with spelt. And they did! I made this bread as part of my New Year’s Eve spread and it was a huge success. The crust is crunchy, while the crumb is light and fluffy with the occasional crunch from the hazelnuts. It is an absolute keeper. You can serve it plain, but I think it is the perfect bread to serve with your cheese platter… any cheese really, though my favourite combination was with Roquefort. Enjoy!
- 200 gms – 1 ½ cup all purpose or bread flour
- 160 ml – ⅔ cup lukewarm water
- 4 gms – 1 ½ tsp active dry yeast
- Melt the yeast in the lukewarm water. Add the flour and mix well.
- Cover and keep aside to rise for at least 1 hour, or until it doubles in size and it becomes bubbly.
- In the meantime, mix together the remaining flours, salt, hazelnuts and honey.
- When the starter is ready, add it to the flour and hazelnut mixture. Knead well with an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, while adding the water little by little. Knead for at least 5 minutes, or until the dough becomes smooth and it detaches from the sides of the bowl. Make the dough into a ball and keep it aside to proof for 1 hour or until it doubles in size.
- Gently place the dough onto a floured surface. Cut it in 2 and shape into 2 baguettes. Do do so, gently flatten 1 half of the dough and make it into a rectangle, then roll it on itself and press it down to seal it. Repeat with the other half of the dough.
- Put the bread on a baking tray covered with baking paper. Sprinkle with some flour and score the top a few times with a sharp knife. Let the bread rest and rise for 20 minutes.
- In the meantime, pre-heat the oven at 200°C – 400°F with a bowl of water inside. This will create some steam that will create a good crumb.
- When the oven is hot, remove the bowl with water and bake the bread for 25 to 30 minutes or until the crust becomes brown and hard.
- Let it cool down on a wire rack before slicing it.