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Walnut Wholemeal Bread

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Unlike most bread makers I know who bake breads regularly at home, my homemade bread routine did not take off well with a bread making machine.  The model I bought produced bread with a very synthetic aroma that I couldn’t quite figure out what it was even till now.  As it was a discontinued model that went for a song, I had no after sales service to rely on.

For a while, I thought my recipes were wrong.  Yeast was not a familiar ingredient then, so I thought I had put in too much yeast, cos I could not pinpoint what other ingredient could attribute to that strange smell during the whole bread making process.  After throwing about 5 loaves away, I gave up troubleshooting the recipe, and decided that yeast was not just my kind of ingredient. And along the way, concluded that bread making machines make strange smelling bread.

It was not until I got a mixer which came with the dough hook, that eventually turned me into an avid bread maker.  The breads I kneaded with the mixer and baked in the oven no longer emit that strange smell anymore, so I could safely conclude that there was indeed something wrong with my bread machine.  Although I wished I could handle a dough from start to finish like this, the mixer made the task too easy (except for No-Knead Bread), plus my hands are too warm to handle the dough, not without breaking down the gluten.  A half machine homemade bread is still better than a factory produced one anyway.  No E-some-number ingredients. No Preservatives.

I am beginning to get too comfortable with this Champion’s Milk Toast recipe, so I started adapting it to bake a healthier wholemeal version.  My first not-so-successful attempt that had me replacing the bread flour completely with wholemeal flour, ended up with a dense loaf.  So this time, I tried with a plain flour and wholemeal flour mixture.

The first proof went well enough to encourage me to added some chopped walnuts into the dough during final shaping stage.  I decided not to use my usual “swiss roll” shaping method to create a neat looking loaf, but with this folding and sealing method instead.  The end result is a lovely rustic looking loaf of bread, that still maintains the fluffy texture of the original Champion’s Milk Toast.  This 50/50 plain/wholemeal flour mixture looks to stay while I try out a more flavors, before moving on to a 100% wholemeal recipe.  I need more successful results as encouragement!

RECIPE : WALNUT WHOLEMEAL BREAD
/ Adapted from here

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150g plain flour or bread flour
150g wholemeal flour
24g fine sugar
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
135g water
69g fresh milk
3/4 teaspoon instant yeast
15g unsalted butter, cubed
30g walnut, roughly chopped

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01. Put all ingredients, EXCEPT BUTTER & WALNUTS, in the  mixing bowl.
02. With a flat beater attachment, mix all ingredients at low speed (1 on my kitchenaid)
03. Change to a dough hook, and continue to knead the dough, adding cubed butter gradually.  Keep kneading till dough reached window pane stage.  You may increase the speed of the mixer to level 2 halfway when the dough starts to look stretchy and pulls away from the sides of the bowl.
04. Remove the bowl from the mixer, grease working hand slightly with butter so that the dough won’t stick to fingers, loosely shape the dough into a ball*.
05. Cover the bowl with a clean damp tea towel, and let it proof for at least 60 minutes (or until it double in size).
06. After the dough has double in size, punch the dough down, and move it to a clean work top.
07. Roll loosely into a ball, leave it on the counter covered with towel for 15 minutes.
08. After 15 minutes, the dough will rise again.  Flatten the dough and add chopped walnuts to the dough.  Knead to mix the walnut well into the dough.
09. Shape the dough into a loaf shape and place it in the bread tin.
10. Covered the bread tin with towel, and let it have a final rise.
11. Once dough has risen to fill up the bread tin, bake it for 30minutes in a preheated oven at 170C / 240F.
12. When the baking time is over, remove the bread from the bread tin immediately, and let it cool down completely on a rack.

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+++ / *this dough will be sticky, almost impossible not to stick to fingers when touched, so I had to use the tucking method (using greased fingers to tuck/fold the sides of the dough to its base)  to roughly shape it into a neat ball for its first proof. See second photo,  it’s not all smooth and perfect, but good enough.

+++ / my bread tin measures 20x10x10 inches.

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