Saturday, 10 November 2012

French Bread with Apples & Walnuts

The theme for the November Twelve Loaves’ challenge is apples. I had a few apples left from my excursion to my favorite farm in October so this was a good excuse to use them. 

I decided to make French Bread with Apples and Walnuts because it sounded really good, but also because the dough is prepared the day ahead in the bread machine and then placed in the refrigerator to ferment overnight. The bread machine did the mixing and kneading so this gave me time to do other things – mainly make more bread.



Although I reduced the number of mixing bowls and clean up required for this bread, I still managed to mess up almost every single mixing bowl in my house this weekend. I fed all of my starters, created a soaker and rye sourdough for a different bread and recreated my Einkorn starter that bit the dust. All in all, it was a good bread-baking weekend. All for the love of bread, right?




The dough for this French bread is made with white bread flour for the most part, but it also includes a little bit of whole wheat flour.  I’m trying to use up some of the extra flours and grains in my freezer so I substituted Teff flour for the whole wheat flour.  I also used unstrained natural apple cider rather than the sparkling apple cider the original recipe called for.  I’m sure the sparkling cider would have been good, but I had the natural cider so I used it instead.


French Bread with Apples and Walnuts

Adapted from: Rustic European Breads from Your Bread Machine by Linda West Eckhardt and Diana Collingwood Butts

Makes: One 1 1/2-pound Loaf


  • 3 cups bread flour
  • 1/2 cup Teff flour
  • 2 teaspoons bread machine yeast
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 cups natural apple cider (unstrained)
  • 1 large or 2 small cooking apples (enough for 1 cup)
  • 1/3 cup coarsely chopped walnuts



Step 1: Add the flours, yeast, salt, and cider to the bread machine pan in the order specified by the manufacturer. My bread machine specifies that you should add the liquid first, then the flour and salt and then make a well in the center for the yeast. The salt shouldn’t come in contact with the yeast. Process it on the dough setting until it is well mixed and kneaded.  This will take about 20 to 30 minutes in most bread machines.



Step 2: Remove the pan from the bread machine, cover the dough (in the bread machine pan) with plastic wrap, and put it in the refrigerator overnight or for at least 8 hours.  This will allow the dough to rise slowly.



Step 3: Take the dough out of the refrigerator and allow it warm up to room temperature for about 2 hours.



Step 4: Remove the dough to a lightly floured work surface and knead it lightly to remove air bubbles. Let it rest on the work surface for 5 minutes.



Step 5: Chop the apples.  While the dough is resting, peel, core and finely chop the apples and coarsely chop the walnuts (if necessary).



Step 6: Knead the apple and walnuts into the dough. Knead until the apples and walnuts are evenly distributed throughout the dough.  It takes a little while (5 minutes or so) to get them evenly distributed so be patient.  Keep lightly dusting the work surface as needed to keep the dough from sticking.



Step 7: Bulk Fermentation. Shape the dough into a ball. Place it in a lightly greased bowl, cover it with plastic and let it rise in a warm draft-free place until doubled in bulk, about 2 hours.



Step 8: Shape and proof the dough. Remove the dough from the bowl and shape it into a round ball (or boule). Place the dough on a wooden peel dusted with cornmeal or a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.  Or, you can use a floured banneton basket as I did.  Cover it again with plastic wrap and let it rise again until it doubles in size, about 1 1/2 hours.



Step 9: Preheat the Oven. About 30 minutes before you plan to bake the bread, preheat the oven to 450 degrees F. with a baking stone (or tiles) on the middle rack and a steam pan on the bottom rack.


Step 10: Remove the loaf from the basket. Carefully remove the loaf from the proofing basket onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.



Step 11: Score the Loaf.  Using a sharp knife, serrated knife, or lame, score the top of the loaf in a tic-tac-toe pattern using slashes that are 1/4 inch deep. I made my slashes a little deeper than 1/4 inch.



Step 12: Bake the loaf.  Slide the loaf (on the parchment paper) on to the preheated baking stone.  Fill the steam pan with 1 cup of hot water.  Then spray the oven walls with a few squirts of water from a spray bottle.  Close the oven door.  Repeat this process two more times during the first 10 minutes of baking. Bake the loaf for 15 minutes, then reduce the heat to 400 degrees F. and bake for an additional 20 to 30 minutes, or until the loaf is a rich, dark brown and the crust is firm.  The loaf should sound hollow when thumped on the bottom.


Step 13: Cool the loaf.  Remove the loaf and let it cool completely on a wire rack before slicing or serving.



Step 14: Slice and Enjoy! This bread tastes great warm with butter, but it also tastes great with the apple butter I made a few weeks ago.  It has an interesting flavor and texture due to the apple cider, chopped apples and the teff flour. I like it!



Thanks to Lora of Cake Duchess, Jamie of Life’s a Feast, and Barb of Creative Culinary for hosting the Twelve Loaves challenge.


Happy Baking!


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