Monday, November 7, 2011

Roasted Hazelnut and Prune Sourdough Bread

I am excited to say this bread marks the completion of all of the Sourdough breads found in Jeffrey Hamelman's Book. It was not the best, but it is quite complex and I understand why he places it as the final bread in the wheat sourdough chapter. The first bite confused me. I found my palate was dumbstruck. I think that in 'our' culture when we think of hazelnuts (filberts) we think of two things, and both of them send us the wrong message: Planter's Mixed Nuts and Nutella. Although both of these items are a guilty pleasure, neither of them give the hazelnut justice. The smell of roasting hazelnuts to a rather dark brown color is simply intoxicating. I had guests in my apartment this past weekend and both of them commented on the smell of the nuts roasting. I agree, but I have noticed that when a cook is cooking or a baker is baking, when he or she is immersed in the ingredients and sweat of his labor he often does not notice these details. Jeff Hamelman notes that once the hazelnuts have been roasted their skins can be easily removed by simply rubbing the nuts in between your hands (much like you would do on a cold night to keep your hands warm). I did not find this to be the case, it took me about ten to fifteen minutes to just clean the roasted nuts, and I only roasted 5 ounces. Perhaps I did not roast them long enough, or I was supposed to allow the nuts to cool. I often find that I get excited about the little things in life (like roasted hazelnuts, hugs and all other important things), I could simply not wait to get going.

I do not think that I have ever eaten a prune, and this is why my first bite was apprehensive. I also know that they are great for you when you are constipated. To me, that is a rather negative connotation. The second bite, which was a more attentive I found more pleasing. This is a bread that requires your attention, the prunes almost add an umami element. I do not mean they attribute a saltiness but rather a savory component. Not a personal favorite, but this loaf would be remarkable on a cheese board including some sweet and sharp cheeses. A triple creme brie or some St. Andre would be marvelous.

This bread also has a pretty good quantity of whole wheat flour compared to the other sourdough breads in Hamelman's book; 25% by weight. I have had breads with much more wheat flour in them, yet this is one of the most filling breads I have ever eaten, and I have eaten my share of bread. Perhaps it is the small amount of butter which is present in the final dough; 5% by weight. I would like to try this bread with a more liquid starter next time, I think it would add a little more of the typical 'sour'dough taste but at the same time this would detract from the other accessory ingredients in this bread. 

Now that I am thinking, there is a wonderful rye bread with walnuts and raisins that Hamelman suggest can be made with only raisins. I am going to make this bread with walnuts and prunes (I have 13 ounces left). I think it will be a good. The complexity combined with the flavor of rye flour which I just love. I am going to Indiana with my best friend to have Thanksgiving with her family and I am trying to decide what breads to make, that sounds like one I might try. I love making bread for people, it gives me the opportunity to receive real feedback.

I also always keep my bread in a brown lunch bag, I find that plastic bags ruin bread. They give it that soft chew, as opposed to that chewy, teeth ripping feeling that I rather enjoy. I did not have a brown bag large enough to fit this enormous bread, so I was forced to use a plastic bread, and I think it is negatively effecting the eating quality. 

Roasted Hazelnut and Prune Sourdough Bread made with Stiff Starter

That is all on this one, one more post to go today
If you keep cooking, they'll keep eating!


  1. Let's switch bread and cookies!

  2. Checking back in to say that this bread is amazing! What a baker! :)

  3. Thank you so much; all ways a pleasure to take part in a edible barter!