Cheese, bread, walnuts and apple: great culinary bed-fellows that revel in their modesty!
While this particular bread arrangement is nothing new, this is my take on it, using a walnut and raisin bread, with the bread roll component filled with a sharp apple chutney. However, even just a few piece of chopped apples or pears as a filling in place of the chutney works very well indeed.
Flavour the dough, maximise the flavour
When making a flavoured bread it makes a world of difference to have the flavour coming right through the bread itself (be it roasted garlic, pesto, walnuts…..) rather than just having chunks of the flavour in a plain dough.
With that in mins, a simple paste is made here with the walnuts that gets incorporated into the dough at the start. That way the bread itself takes on a walnut flavour. There are also added chunks of walnuts and raisins for extra flavour definition.
Walnut & raisin “tear and share” bread: makes one large centrepiece
- 80g strong wholemeal flour
- 1/4 teaspoon easy-blend dried yeast (or a generous pinch)
- 80ml water
- 80g walnuts, lightly toasted
- 80ml water
- 1 tablespoon honey
- 500g strong white plain flour
- 50g strong wholemeal flour
- the walnut paste, above
- 2 tablespoons walnut oil
- 30g unsalted butter, melted
- 240-280ml water
- 12g salt
- 6g dried easy-blend yeast
- 80g lightly toasted walnuts, chopped
- 100g raisins, soaked in boiling water and chopped
- chutney (pear- or apple-based is excellent here): or use freshly chopped pears or apples
- beaten egg
- poppy seeds
- fresh thyme
(1) Make the pre-ferment the night before: mix the flour and yeast together and mix in the water to give a thick batter. Cover with clingfilm and leave at least 12 hours or overnight. NB: you can skip this stage and go straight into making the dough from step 2, using 130g wholemeal flour instead of the 50g and about 80ml more water. You don’t get qute the foavour depth you get with a pre-fment but it will still taste terrific!
(2) Make the walnut paste: put the paste ingredients in a small blender and blitz to give a smooth paste.
(3) For the dough, mix the flours, salt and yeast together in a large bowl. Add the walnut paste, butter, walnut oil, sultanas, chopped walnuts and most of the water and mix to give a soft but not sticky dough. Knead for about 15 minutes until smooth and elastic.
(4) Cover with clingfilm and leave to rise until about doubled in size, ideally in a fridge for a very slow rise (for maximum flsvour) Turn out onto a lightly floured board and knead for a minute or so.
(5) Split the dough in half. Take one portion of the dough and cut into 3 pieces. With your hands roll each of the three pieces to long thin strands, just over 1cm thickness and going a bit longer than the circumference of the Brie. Plait the three strands.
(6) Remove the lid from the Brie and slice the top rind off the Brie. Place on a sheet of greaseproof on a large baking sheet, still in the base box. Wrap the plaited dough around the Brie box and press gently to seal, tucking any surplus underneath: the plait should fit perfectly around the box but if it is slightly too short, gently roll the plait to lengthen it.
(7) Split the remaining dough into 12 pieces, each about 45g, and 12 smaller pieces. Flatten the larger ones out and put a small amount of the chutney in the centre. Bring up the dough around the chutney and pinch to seal fully. Place the dough balls, seal-side down, around the plait, leaving a little gap between each ball. Place the smaller balls around the larger balls – as in the picture below.
(8) Brush the dough all over with the egg and sprinkle over poppy seeds. Sprinkle a few thyme leaves over the Brie. Bake in an oven pre-heated to 200C (fan) for 20-25 minutes until dark-golden brown.