A particularly great loaf to eat with cheese, served with gutsy soups or made into sandwiches (ham and mustard sandwiches made with this bread are particularly good!). But just sliced and slathered with butter is a joy!
There is a nice mixture of sweetness and sharpness to the bread from the apples and cider, and the rye flour adds a nice bite to to the bread without making the whole affair the slightest bit heavy; the bread is, in fact, very light in texture. And each mouthful is punctuated with the gentle crunch of walnuts – heavenly!
The poolish/pre-ferment is made the night before and adds such a depth of flavour to the finished loaf although you can omit the poolish.
You can use all cider in the main dough but I find a mixture of cider and water strikes the right balance of flavours.
Apple, Walnut and Cider Bread (makes 3 loaves)
- 70g strong white plain flour
- 70g rye flour
- 1g easy-blend yeast
- about 120ml water
- 450g strong white bread flour
- 150g rye flour
- 10g easy-blend yeast
- 12g fine sea salt
- 300ml dry cider
- about 100ml water
- 2 large cooking apples, peeled, cored and grated
- 100g walnuts, chopped roughly
(1) Make the poolish the night before: mix the flours and yeast together and add enough water to make a thick batter. Cover with clingfilm and leave to rise overnight or for between 12 and 18 hours or so.
(2) Mix the flours, salt and yeast together. Add the poolish, apples, walnuts, the cider and enough water mix to form a soft dough. Knead for about 10-15 minutes until the dough is smooth and elastic.
(3) Leave to prove, covered, for a couple of hours until doubled in size. Turn out onto a slightly floured surface, cut into 3 equal pieces and shape into loaves. For baguettes, one of the pieces will make two baguettes.
(4) Cover and prove until doubled in size and nicely puffy. Score with a sharp knife or blade and bake in a preheated oven at 220C(fan) for about 30-40 minutes for loaves, turning the oven down to 200C after 10 minutes. For baguettes bake for about 20 minutes at 220C.
Note: an empty pan placed in the oven while it preheats, into which a few cups of cold water get poured just as the dough goes into the oven, creates a nice steamy oven, which is better for the crust.