CHESTNUT FLOUR SOURDOUGH BREAD

On the last In My Kitchen post, I promised to come back to talk about a bread made with chestnut flour brought all the way from France. The Bread Baking Queen Farine was the one who got me into this bread adventure, and advised me to search for this exotic flour in Paris. When I sent her a photo of the bag I bought she was super excited because it turns out chestnut flour from Corsica is considered the best in the world!  Amazing that it was exactly the type available near our hotel. Pure luck. With the stars so beautifully aligned, I was sure this would turn out as a wonderful baking project!  Was I right?  Well, let’s say that troubles were brewing faster than the wild yeast in my sourdough starter.

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CHESTNUT SOURDOUGH BREAD
(from Farine’s blog)

(makes 4 small loaves)

For the pre-fermented dough
175 g mature white starter
494 g unbleached all-purpose flour
258 g water
26 g raw wheat germ (I used toasted)
12 g salt

For the final dough
750 g unbleached all-purpose flour
400 g chestnut flour
700 g water
450 g fermented white dough
5 g instant dry yeast
25 g salt
200 g whole, peeled cooked chestnuts, crumbled into chunks

For the fermented dough
Mix flour, water and white starter until the flour is well hydrated, cover with a cloth and let rest 20 minutes. Add salt and mix until you get a gluten window (when you stretch some of the dough really thin, you see strands of gluten and almost-see through spots). Put in an oiled bowl and cover tightly.

Let rise at room temperature for about two hours, then put in the fridge for up to 48 hours

Remove from the fridge at least two hours before using

For the final dough
Combine the flours in the bowl of the mixer, add the water and mix well. Cover with a cloth and let rest for 30 minutes

Add the fermented dough and yeast and mix until the dough is smooth and elastic. Sprinkle the salt over it and mix some more.

Very lightly flour your work surface. Place your dough on it, rough-side up, and flatten it out with your fingers. Spread the chestnut pieces over the top and press them well into the dough. Fold a few times so that all the chestnuts are incorporated into the dough. Form the dough into a ball, put it into an oiled bowl, cover with a cloth and let it rest for 40 minutes.

Lightly flour your work surface again, and turn the dough out on it. Fold the dough (on all four sides), then put back into your bowl, cover with baking cloth and let it rest for another 20 minutes. Lightly flour your work surface again, turn out the dough and divide it into 4 equal pieces.  Shape as desired.

Place on a semolina dusted parchment paper over a sheet pan. Let rise, covered with baking cloths, for 1 ½ hour or until just doubled in volume.

Meanwhile turn on the oven to 500ºF/250ºC with a baking stone in it and an empty cast iron (or metal) pan on the bottom shelf. When ready to bake, score the breads the way you like, pour 1 cup of water in the cast iron (or metal) pan and slide the breads (still on their parchment paper) onto the baking stone, spray some water into the oven and close the door quickly.

After 5 minutes, turn the oven down to 440ºF/220ºC and bake for another 20 minutes. Check to see if the loaves need to be turned around or if they need to switch places, then bake for another 10 minutes as needed

Let cool on a rack.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

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Comments: When you buy 500g of chestnut flour several thousand miles away from home, you become very protective of it  A recipe that calls for 400g (in other words, 80% of my treasure) prompted me to launch a quick email to Farine, asking her thoughts on halving the recipe.  She is far more experienced in sourdough baking than me, so when she speaks, I listen. Once she gave me the ok to go for it, I felt empowered, on top of the world. Yes, I will be able to bake this bread and have a lot of chestnut flour leftover to play with. How cool is that?  So, being the super smart person I like to think I am, I made a nice table in which all amounts were cut in half, and went to work.

The catastrophic event was completely neglecting to look back at the table when mixing starter with the other components of the dough. I would have noticed that only HALF of the fermented dough should be added. So, that beautiful photo you see above, with a stretched out dough and the chestnuts waiting to be incorporated, was taken right before the piercing cry, the calling myself names, and the scared dogs running after Phil as he dashed out of the kitchen.  It is shocking and appalling to realize how little sympathy I get from those who live with me.

It is not easy to think rationally under duress, but I figured that the only way out of my self-inflicted misery was to discard half of that dough (ouch, it hurt!)  and add more of all other components to the other half, except (obviously) the starter.  Two problems with this strategy: I would not have time to let the flours go through autolyse before mixing, and I would have to use more of my precious chestnut flour.  With a heavy heart, that’s what I did.

compositechestnut

I was absolutely sure the abused bread would turn out to be a complete failure, but the Gods of Bread are a lot kinder than the Gods of Golf, so all had a miraculous happy ending.  Maybe the crumb turned out a little too tight, but I can tell you this bread tastes amazing!  If you can find chestnut flour where you live, or if you can order it online, try this bread. And, I echo Farine with one piece of advice she gave me: it is ok to scale down the recipe, but do not substitute walnuts or other nuts. Chestnuts are essential…

MC, thanks for the constant inspiration, and sorry I messed up the recipe. There’s always next time, as long as I find a good source for chestnut flour here in the US. Amazon.com to the rescue?  ;-)

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I am submitting this post to Susan’s Yeastspotting

ONE YEAR AGO: Kinpira Gobo and Japanese Home Cooking

TWO YEARS AGO: Walnut Sourdough

THREE YEARS AGO: Thai Chicken Curry

FOUR YEARS AGO: Zen and the art of risotto

 

 

27 thoughts on “CHESTNUT FLOUR SOURDOUGH BREAD

    • It is a wonderful bread, very unique taste, actually – the chestnut flour and the pieces of chestnuts take this bread into a completely new direction. We still have about half of it in the freezer, and every now and then a slice will show up at our table… I usually slice and freeze two or three slices in a small package. It thaws quickly, and a couple of minutes in our small oven makes the bread good as new!

  1. One would never be able to look at these loaves and see that you had any sort of problem. Heck, Sally! I’d be more than happy with results like these any day. I’ve just finished mixing some dough for baking when I get up in the morning. My loaves will look nothing like yours. Dammit! :)

    • I do think the crumb suffered a little – you can jump on Farine’s site and see that hers is a little more open. But hey, I am not complaining, after all I did to this bread, I was dancing all over the kitchen! Trust me on that one….. (by the way John, the photos of the lamb shanks turned out “bloggagle”, so all systems go for a future post)

  2. Well, Sally, if that’s what messing up looks like for you and I lived in Manhattan, KS, I would sign up for your errors on each and everyone of your baking days! The bread looks beautiful: beautifully rustic crust, lovely ears, lovely crumb (typical chestnut bread crumb) and I already know the taste! Thank you so much for your kind words. As always they make me blush! There is no way I am all you say I am bread-wise but one thing is for sure, I love bread and yours is always so enticing it makes me want to go and mix dough right away. You are a natural, Sally!

    • My ears are actually a bit too big, courtesy of my Mom, I suppose, but.. oh, I see, you mean the bread’s ears! Yeah, they turned out nice, and much more proportional than my own… :-)

      moi? A natural? I am glad there’s no hidden camera in my kitchen, let’s leave it at that

      (thanks for stopping by to comment, I know you are in a roller coaster of activities “entre deux chaises” ;-)

  3. If not for the story of your harrowing adventures we would all believe that all was as it was meant to be … cause those are some pretty gorgeous loaves of bread, Sally. :)

  4. Your bread looks wonderful, you certainly can’t tell you or the bread was previously under duress. Wondering about the flavor. I’ve heard wonderful things about chestnut flour, it’s on my list.

  5. Ooh no…, it makes me so sad when my crazy woman ways upsets my dog (at least my kids understand that I’m nuts :)). It’s only happened once that I’m aware of but the sadness in her eyes was so upsetting that I took a solemn oath of equanimity in her presence. Your loaf is gorgeous, I would have never known the horrors you went through ;-). xx

    • You put it quite well – the horrors. I shall follow your example and take the oath of equanimity. Not sure I can handle it with the poise and grace you do, but I strive to improve. Now and always. ;-)

  6. I love your dramatics Sally! I have such vivid pictures in my mind of the dogs and Phil taking cover. LOL. I’m glad the gods of bread smiled down upon you and all turned it well. It sure looks beautiful. Not only that – I bet it made you think of Paris too. :)

  7. I would never have guessed there were any problems at all! You must please the bread gods ;-) You certainly make me happy! I love the thought of chestnut bread. Thank you for sharing, my friend!

  8. The.Boy doesn’t seem to have much sympathy for my kitchen screams either. Unless a glass breaks, and then he comes running with the vacuum. I second Monet, I would never have guessed there was anything wrong with these loaves either! Beautiful!

  9. I think you did brilliantly, all credit to you :) shh I reckon the Gods of Bread are mellowing to us in their old age, with so many new worshippers coming to pay homage :)

  10. I need to try this recipe!! Maybe the Gods of Bread will smile upon me as I have not had the best luck with them before. This looks so amazing and perfect for lunch sandwiches :)

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