Infused with the rich nutty taste of hazelnuts, this bread packs so much flavor into any pairing you choose
October 28th, 2018
Some may argue bread is at its best when it's simple—flour, water, salt, yeast. While fermentation alone can work wonders, this bread packed with hazelnuts has such an incredible flavor well beyond what a basic bread can achieve. The milk adds just the right amount of fat to make this bread work with more sweet flavors like honey and fruit preserves, as well as more savory flavors like salt, butter, and cheese. But don't get the wrong idea that this bread needs some accompaniment. It's easy to devour a whole loaf slice by slice before you even realize it's gone.
If you are looking for a perfect Thanksgiving bread, this is the bread that will really elevate your feast. Just imagine the leftover turkey and cranberry sandwiches between two slices of toasted hazelnut bread. Delicious!
Makes 4 loaves
Be sure to read through the full recipe before starting. As with any bread recipe, some planning is required to get the right timing.
Preheat the oven to 425°F (220°C). Spread the hazelnut flour on a half sheet pan and toast until golden brown and aromatic, 5 to 6 minutes. Let cool completely. The flour will decrease slightly in weight when toasted. You will need 100g for this recipe.
Transfer the hazelnuts and their soaking water to a blender, preferably a high-powered one, and process into a smooth puree.
Stir together the white and toasted hazelnut flours, sugar, salt, and yeast in a medium bowl.
Pour the cold whole milk around the edges of the starter to release it from the sides of the container. Transfer the starter and milk to an extra-large bowl along with the hazelnut milk. Using a wooden spoon, break the starter up to distribute it in the liquid.
Add the flour mixture, reserving about one-sixth of it along the edge of the bowl. Continue to mix with the spoon until most of the dry ingredients have been combined with the starter mixture. Switch to a plastic bowl scraper and continue to mix until incorporated. At this point the dough will be very sticky to the touch.
Push the dough to one side of the bowl. Roll and tuck the dough, adding the reserved flour mixture and a small amount of additional flour to the bowl and your hands as needed. Continue rolling and tucking until the dough feels stronger and begins to resist any further rolling, about 12 times. Then, with cupped hands, tuck the sides under toward the center. Place the dough, seam-side down, in a clean bowl, cover the top of the bowl with a clean kitchen towel, and let rest at room temperature for 45 minutes.
For the first stretch and fold, lightly dust the work surface and your hands with flour. Using the plastic bowl scraper, release the dough from the bowl and set it, seam-side down, on the work surface. The dough will be slightly sticky for this fold (as well as the others, but slightly less each time). Gently stretch it into a roughly rectangular shape. Fold the dough in thirds from top to bottom and then from left to right. With cupped hands, tuck the sides under toward the center. Place the dough in the bowl, seam-side down, cover the bowl with the towel, and let rest for 45 minutes.
For the second stretch and fold, repeat the steps for the first stretch and fold, then return the dough to the bowl, cover with the towel, and let rest for 30 minutes.
For the third and final stretch and fold, gently stretch the dough into a rectangle. Pinch the butter into pieces, distributing them over the top of the dough. Using your fingers or a spatula, spread the butter across the surface of the dough. Roll up the dough tightly from the end closest to you; at the end of the roll the dough will be seam-side down. Turn it over, seam-side up, and gently press on the seam to flatten the dough slightly. Fold in thirds from left to right and then do 4 or 5 roll and tuck sequences to incorporate the butter. Turn the dough seam-side down and tuck the sides under toward the center. Return the dough to the bowl, cover with a towel, and let rest for 20 minutes.
Line a half sheet pan with a linen liner and dust fairly generously with white flour.
Lightly dust the work surface and your hands with flour. Using a bench scraper, divide the dough into 4 equal pieces. Press each piece into a 5-inch square, then roll into a loose tube about 5 inches long. Let rest for 5 minutes. Press each piece out again and then shape into a very tight tube about 8 inches long. Transfer to the lined pan, seam- side up, positioning the loaves across the width of the pan, rather than lengthwise. Dust the top and sides of the loaves with flour. Fold the linen to create support walls on both sides of each loaf, then fold any extra length of the linen liner over the top or cover with a kitchen towel.
Transfer the tray to the refrigerator and chill for 12 to 16 hours.
Set up the oven with a baking stone and a cast-iron skillet filled with water on the rack below, to create steam during baking. Then preheat the oven to 480°F (250°C).
Using the linen liner, lift and gently flip the loaves off the pan and onto a transfer peel, seam-side down. Slide the loaves, still seam-side down, onto a dusted baking peel. Score the top of each. Working quickly but carefully, transfer the loaves to the stone using heavy-duty oven mitts or potholders. Pull out the hot skillet, add about 3 cups of ice cubes, then slide it back in and close the oven door. Immediately lower the oven temperature to 410°F (210°C). Bake, switching the positions of the loaves about two- thirds of the way through baking, until the crust is a rich golden brown, about 40 minutes.
Using the baking peel, transfer the loaves to a cooling rack. When the bottoms of the loaves are tapped, they should sound hollow. If not, return to the stone and bake for 5 minutes longer.
Let the bread cool completely before slicing and eating, at least 4 hours but preferably 8 to 24 hours.
Reprinted with permission from Bien Cuit: The Art of Bread by Zachary Golper and Peter Kaminsky, copyright © 2015. Photography courtesy of Thomas Schauer © 2015
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