Monday, August 22, 2011

Cracked Wheat Walnut Bread and News of a Baby


I have a new nephew! My brother, Tim, and sister-in-law, Kristen, just had their third beautiful child and I am delighted to be an auntie again. Babies = pure happiness. I can’t wait to meet this sweet bundle. Is there anything more delicious than kissing tiny baby feet?

In the meantime, I can’t think of a more appropriate time to bake bread than when celebrating a baby. When making bread, I think of new life bubbling up while watching the yeast and liquid react together. Kneading dough is cozy and comforting and it allows me to create a tangible sign of love with my hands. I want to nurture and strengthen my sleep deprived brother and sister-in-law. Sadly, I am not nearby to help with the baby, so until I can visit I will send my love in a freshly baked loaf of whole-grain goodness. (Spoiler alert, Tim and Kristen - guess what’s coming in the mail!)

Cracked Wheat and Walnut Bread is a hearty, nutritious bread and a favorite of ours. It combines bulgur, whole wheat flour, walnuts and a touch of honey to yield a flavorful loaf. I first had it at Macrina Bakery here in Seattle and when their cookbook was published I ran to pick it up and baked this bread immediately (as well as the brownies ... I promise I’ll tell you about those clouds of chocolate delight soon). This is a terrific all-purpose bread! Top a toasted slice with a poached egg, make a tuna salad sandwich (as I just did) or enjoy it warm out of the oven with honey butter. You really can’t go wrong. And I suggest you double the recipe so you have an extra loaf to share or stash in your freezer.

A toast to my new nephew! (Hee hee – I couldn’t resist.)

Cracked Wheat Walnut Bread
Adapted from Macrina Bakery and Café Cookbook by Leslie Mackie
Makes 1 loaf

3/4 cup cracked wheat bulgur
1 cup boiling water
1 1/4 cups warm water
1 1/2 teaspoons dried yeast
2 tablespoons honey
1 cup whole wheat flour (plus extra for sprinkling)
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1/2 cup canola oil
1 1/2 cups walnut halves, toasted and chopped

Place the cracked wheat in a small bowl and cover with boiling water. Stir and let sit for 10 minutes until the liquid is absorbed.

In a large mixing bowl, pour in warm water and add the yeast and honey. Stir and let sit until it bubbles up, about 5 minutes. Add the cracked wheat, 1 cup whole wheat flour, all-purpose flour, salt and canola oil. Stir with a wooden spoon until the dough comes together. Using floured hands, knead for about 10 minutes. Add the walnuts and knead until they are mixed in. (This can all be done in a standing mixer with a dough hook, too, but sometimes I prefer to make bread completely by hand.)

Cover bowl with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm area for about 2 hours. Punch the dough down and pull it out onto a floured surface. Form it into a rectangle and position it so the long side is facing you. Fold the 2 short ends onto the top so they meet in the middle. Roll the dough away from you to form a tight log.

Place the loaf in an oiled 9x5 loaf pan. Let rise for 1 hour. While the loaf is proofing, preheat the oven to 385 degrees.

Dust the top of the loaf with a little bit of whole wheat flour. Bake for about 50 minutes, until medium brown on top. Let cool for 30 minutes before removing from the pan. Slice and enjoy!

6 comments:

  1. Congratulations on your new nephew. We just got back from babysitting our 6 month old grandson and 5 year old granddaughter. What a pleasure. I love the walnuts in your bread.

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  2. @Penny
    Thank you so much, Penny. Sounds like you had a special time with your grandchildren!

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  3. I love walnuts, so I should definitely try this bread!

    Congrats on your new nephew! I bet he's darling!

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  4. @Lauren
    Thank you, Lauren! He's a sweetie and I can't wait to meet him.

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  5. Haven't made bread in a little while, but there really isn't anything quite like homebaked bread. This sounds delicious. And congratulations on the new arrival :)

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  6. @Mairi
    Thank you, Mairi! I'm counting down til I visit them in a few weeks.

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