Saturday, March 20, 2010

Chesnut Bread with Roasted Chestnuts

Note: This chestnut sourdough bread was made to participate in a French bread challenge : Concours Votre Pain.  The French version of this post is available ici.

Even though my experience with sourdough bread making is fairly recent, I have been making bread for my family regularly. I always use Florence Makanai's 1.2.3 recipe (recipe in English is here) and have only use my glass cocotte to bake my loaves so far. With great success I have to say!  My children  love trying new bread; they are also fascinated with the whole process... and since I am only using simple ingredients, I feel that I am eating healthier bread than the ones I could purchase otherwise (I have never been a big fan of molasses in bread!!)  That's what I love about cooking from scratch...

As you must know (too well maybe?), we all love chestnuts in our family. A cousin of mine had brought two cans of whole chestnuts in his suitcase when he came to visit (yes, I know that's a strange request). I also had leftover chestnut flour from a previous cake I had planned to make... so I used it to make this loaf of bread instead. Vraiment pas mal! The chestnut flour gives it a little je-ne-sais-quoi : you can tell it's not wholewheat or spelt or rye flour. It's different, yet a little bit sweet at the same time. The roasted chesnuts add a little bit of sweet crunchiness to the loaf. It was a perfect bread to eat with good cheese!

- 150 gr Sourdough starter (100%)
- 300 gr filtered water
- 150 gr Chestnut flour
- 300 gr organic white bread flour
- 9 gr sea salt
- 100 gr whole roasted chestnuts

Morning of Day 1: 
  • Feed starter to ensure that you have at least 150gr in the late afternoon/early evening.
Evening of Day 1:
  • Preheat oven to 400 F
  • Gently break the whole chestnuts into pieces (not too small) and lay them on a baking sheet
  • Roast them in the oven for 15mn or until golden brown. You don't want to overcook them otherwise, they'll be too hard.
  • Reserve.
  • In a large bowl, mix the flours together
  • In the bowl of the stand mixer, mix in the sourdough starter with water. Add about 70 gr of flour (I generally take two big soup spoons) and mix for about 3 minutes (speed 3). The dough becomes very fluffy! This is Steve's Double Flour Addition technique, which has worked well for me so far.
  • Add the remaining of flour and with the bread-hook, mix for about 1 minute until the flour is wet.
  • Set aside for 30 minutes (autolysis)
  • After 30 minutes, add salt and start kneading the bread using the slowest speed of your stand mixer. After about 5 minutes, add the chestnut pieces and knead for another minute or two.
  • Cover with kitchen towel and let rest for 15 mn
  • After 15 mn, cover with plastic wrap and put in the fridge overnight
Morning of Day 2:
  • Take the bowl out of the fridge
  • Leave it outside for 4-5 hours until the dough rises.
  • Knead the dough twice : folding the dough as if it were a letter to put in an envelop and then turning 1/4 tour and folding it again.
  • Cover your cocotte with parchment paper and put the dough, folded sides facing down into the cocotte. Cover with kitchen towel and let it rise again
Evening of Day 2:
  • Once the dough is ready, put in the COLD oven at 425F for one hour.
  • Let cook on a cooling rack before eating.
My Personal Comments:
  • If you want the French version of this recipe (to improve your French par exemple, you can find it ici)
  • I found chestnut flour at the Italian Market in Philadelphia. You can also find it online here. I don't use it as often as chickpeas flour (for Socca) or Quinoa flour but I am planning on making a few recipes with it in the future.

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