I know few people who do not like bread and I still know less that do not like warm, freshly baked bread. There are many ways to make reasonably good bread in our kitchens and with far fewer chemical ingredients than the bread you buy at most bakeries or supermarkets, but this is my favorite because it results in a rustic bread with a crunchy crust. It is true that it takes a lot of time in the fermentation phase, but it pays off with a huge simplicity in its preparation.
I had already posted here this recipe for a toasted barley bread and now I leave you with this carob and walnut bread. It is also a dark and rustic bread, with a slight cocoa aroma due to the presence of carob flour (in some places known as carob powder). You may find carob flour in natural food stores or in supermarkets with a natural food section. Note, however, that you do not need a large amount. For some culinary preparations the presence of the gluten protein is necessary or at least highly desirable to achieve the best results, like in the case of bread. So, carob flour has to be added to a flour that contains gluten to make bread and a small amount is enough to give the characteristic carob color and aroma. When I tested my recipe for carob crepes I started with a version that only had carob flour (it was a disaster, the crepes fell apart because the batter had no elasticity) and I finished with 1 tablespoon of carob flour for 9 tablespoons of wheat flour. Like I said, just a little goes a long way.
- 350 g all-purpose flour + a little more for sprinkling
- 50 g carob flour (also known as carob powder)
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- 1/2 teaspoon dried baker's yeast
- 250 ml water lukewarm
- 75 g walnuts coarsely chopped
- In a large bowl, combine the flour, carob flour, baking powder and salt. Make a hole in the middle and add the water. Mix all ingredients with a wooden spoon. Cover the bowl with cling film and put it in a warm place. Let it raise for, ideally, 18 hours (minimum 12 and maximum 24).
- At the end of this time the dough should have increased in volume and have a spongy appearance. Spread some flour on the kitchen countertop. Put the leavened dough there and add the chopped walnuts, kneading to incorporate. Fold the dough over itself twice, sprinkle with a little flour and cover with a clean kitchen cloth or cling film. Let it rise for another two hours.
- Half an hour before this second raising time is over, preheat the oven to 200º C and place an iron pot with the lid in it. Leave the pan in the hot oven for 30 minutes.
- Give a rounded shape to the dough and place it on parchment paper. Remove the pan from the oven with care and put the parchment paper with the dough inside. Make one or two cuts to the surface with a sharp knife. Cover the pan and bake in the oven for 30 minutes. At the end of this time, remove the lid and bake another 15 minutes.
- For bread to grow and to have crisp crust we need to create the ideal conditions of humidity inside the oven. The way I find it easier to get this result is to bake the bread inside an iron pot. This technique helps to seal the moisture present in the dough, transform it to steam and maintain hydration of the crust during almost all cooking until the final minutes when the lid is removed. You can use another type of container with a lid and suitable for use in the oven, although cast iron or clay are ideal.
- This technique to make a bread without kneading was developed by Jim Lahey.
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