We went to Nottingham food festival on Sunday at Wollaton Park and came back with a pretty good haul: some chilli jam, smoked cheddar, chilli cheese and walnut bread. While we were there I also at the best fish finger sandwich of my life – with smoked salmon and crayfish fish fingers and a generous amount of mayo – and Angelo had a burger topped with bacon and fried cheese (serious food envy happened, despite my mostly-vegetarianism).
But its the gorgeously flavoured walnut bread I am here to talk about because, as you may have guessed, I decided to recreate it but with cheese. Because, as is my life motto, what is not improved by cheese?
I am not a massive blue cheese person. I will eat it in a sauce or pasta or what-have-you, but I am still wary of the the blue-veined stilton on the cheese board and will gingerly put the thinnest slice on my cracker with a large amount of chutney. But gorgonzola is different. It is that perfect middle ground for the tentative blue cheese eater. It is creamy and slightly sweet with not too many blue bits on show. It melts wonderfully in the mouth and is great for cooking with. Gorgonzola and walnuts are a classic pairing, so you can imagine how delicious this bread is.
The cheese is prominent, but not overpowering. The walnut is, well, nutty. There is a good crust and soft texture.
It has mostly white flour, but a bit of wholemeal to give it a more robust taste. There is no fat or sugar used in this recipe as they can be found in the cheese. You can chop the walnuts to a size you like depending on personal taste. I left mine in about half to one centimetre pieces to get a little crunch, but they could be smaller. The bread needs to prove three times: once before the nuts are added, once after, and once when shaped. The crust is achieved by creating a burst of steam in the oven at the beginning of baking using cold water and a hot roasting tin.
It has been a little longer than usual since I posted because I, um, forgot to take photos of the incredible chocolate celebration cake I made on Monday. But never fear. The cake, proclaimed by its recipient as the best cake he had ever eaten, will be made again in due course and posted on here! I mean, who doesn’t love a triple layer whipped chocolate masterpiece?
Gorgonzola and walnut bread
Adapted from a roquefort loaf recipe by Linda Collister
Makes 2 loaves
450 grams strong white bread flour
150 grams wholemeal bread flour
7 grams fast-action dried yeast
1 ½ tsp. salt
150g gorgonzola cheese, cut into small pieces
300 ml water, approx., at room temperature
100g walnuts, chopped
Jug of cold water
Mix the flours, yeast and salt together in a large bowl. Add the chopped cheese and mix with your hand, then make a well in the centre of the mixture. Pour the water into well and mix using your hand until the mixture comes together to form a dough (you may need slightly more water if the dough is dry, or more white flour if it is sticky). Knead gently in the bowl for a couple of minutes until the cheese is evenly distributed. Cover the bowl with clingfilm and leave to rise in a warm place for about an hour, until puffy-looking.
Tip the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead in the walnuts. Continue kneading until the dough is soft and elastic, then put back in the bowl and cover with clingfilm. Leave to rise in a warm spot for 45 min-1 hour until doubled in size.
Split the dough in half, and on a lightly floured surface flatten and stretch each half into a rectangle measuring 20 x 15 cm. Roll each rectangle up from one short end and pinch the dough to seal the edges.
On a clean surface with no flour, roll each half into a sausage about 30 cm long with tapered ends. Place on a tray lined with greaseproof paper and cover loosely with a dry tea towel and put in a warm spot for 45 min-1 hour until doubled in size.
Towards the end of the rising time, preheat the oven to 220°C and put a roasting tin on the floor of the oven to heat up. Brush each loaf with a little water, the make several diagonal cuts with a sharp knife across the top of each one. Place in the hot oven on the middle shelf, and pour a jug of cold water into the roasting tin to create a burst of steam before quickly closing the oven door. Bake for 20-25 minutes until a deep brown then leave to cool on a wire rack. The bread is best eaten within 2 days and stored in an airtight container.