Ottolenghi Sour Cherry and Walnut Loaf

I love baking but lack confidence in my bread making skills. Ottolenghi hasn’t let me down before so I ‘rose’ to the challenge putting this recipe to the test and it was a success! The loaf is sweet despite the lack of sugar and is delicious served warm with butter.

160ml lukewarm water (not more than 30°C)
1½ tsp active dried yeast or 2¼ tsp (tightly packed) fresh yeast
40ml orange juice
250g country brown flour (Allinson’s country grain brown bread flour), plus extra for dusting
65g buckwheat flour
1 tsp salt
50g dried sour cherries – I used morello cherries which are actually quite sweet
50g walnuts, roughly broken into pieces

  1. Put the water and yeast in the bowl of an electric mixer, stir together and leave to stand for 10 minutes. Add the orange juice, mix again and the add both types of flour. Set the machine on a low speed and knead for 5 minutes with the dough hook. Everything should come together in a rough ball.
  2. Stop the machine and scrape the dough from the bottom of the bowl. Add the salt, turn up to a high speed and work for 4 minutes, by which time the dough should be smoother and have a silkier texture. stop the mixer, add the cherries and walnuts and mix on a medium speed for a couple of minutes.
  3. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and knead by hand, turning it as you do so, until most of the cherries and walnuts have disappeared inside the dough and it appears smoother. Shape the dough into a ball. If it’s sufficiently kneaded the dough should bounce back if prodded lightly with a finger. Put the dough in a large bowl, cover with a damp cloth and leave in a warm place for 11/2 hours or until doubled in volume. (I use my airing cupboard)
  4. Turn the risen dough out onto a floured surface. Trying not to beat to much air out of it, pull the edges of the dough so that they all meet at the centre top to form a puffed, round cushion shape. Use a long object e.g a wooden spoon handle to divide the dough into 2 equal spheres. Fold one half over the other. Crimp the ends together with your fingers to seal them. Now roll this on the floured surface to make a torpedo-like baguette shape. Lay it gently onto a floured tea towel, cover loosely with cling film and leave to rise in a warm place for another 45 minutes.
  5. Meanwhile preheat the over to 220C/ Gas Mark 7 and put a small, shallow pan of hot water in the bottom. Once the dough has risen by about 50%, roll it off the cloth onto a baking sheet. Be careful not to handle it too much or it may lose air. Lightly flour the top of the loaf, you can sift it over, and using a very sharp non-serrated knife make 3 diagonal, 1cm deep slashes.
  6. Place the loaf in the oven and bake for 20-25 minutes. Check if the bread is ready by tapping on its base; it should sound hollow. Leave on a wire rack to cool for 20 minutes before serving.
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