I am very excited about this bread, because I came up with the formula myself. Well, that is not completely true, as we all follow the footsteps of more experienced folks. Sometimes a dear Grandma, a favorite cookbook author or celebrity chef (excuse me while I try to control my eye roll, the word celebrity does that to me. Every. Single. Time). Back to the bread in question. I had hazelnuts in my mind and thought they would be wonderful added to a rustic sourdough bread. I also had a small amount of blue cheese in the fridge (Bleu d’Auvergne, to be precise), and decided that they could interact nicely with the hazelnuts in the bread environment.  I used a very basic recipe that did not need any special type of starter.  A little spelt flour for added pizzazz. And there you have it, a sourdough bread to call my own. But I would be thrilled if you make it in your kitchen too…

Hazelnut Blue Cheese Sourdough
(from the Bewitching Kitchen)

125 g  sourdough starter (at 100% hydration)
250 g water, warm to the touch
300 g bread flour
75 g spelt flour
7 g salt
60 g roasted hazelnuts, chopped in large pieces
50 g blue cheese (I used Bleu d’Auvergne)

Add the active starter to a large bowl, mix it with the water until it dissolves more or less smoothly. Add the flours and briefly do a few kneading moves to form a shaggy mess.  Cover loosely with plastic wrap for 30 minutes.

Sprinkle the salt over the dough and incorporate by kneading lightly and folding the dough on itself.  You can keep the dough in the bowl, or transfer to a surface.  After 20-30 seconds of kneading/folding, cover the dough again and let it sit for 40 minutes.

Add the hazelnuts and blue cheese to the dough and repeat cycles of quick kneading/folding two more times, spacing them by 45 minutes.   If the dough doesn’t seem to have enough strength, incorporate one more cycle of folding. After the final kneading cycle, let the dough sit for 20 to 30 minutes, shape it as a round or oval loaf, place it in a banneton with the seam side up and leave it at room temperature  30 minutes longer. Place it in the fridge overnight, lightly covered with a plastic wrap (oil the surface that will be in contact with the dough).

Remove the dough from the fridge 1 hour before baking, while the oven heats to 450 F. If using a Dutch oven, place it in the cold oven as you turn it on. Invert the bread out of the banneton (the easiest way to do it is over a parchment paper on a flat baking sheet), quickly slash it and place it in the Dutch oven. To generate steam, cover the pan with the lid that you rinsed under the sink, allowing some water to be retained on the surface. Bake the bread covered for 30 minutes, remove cover, and allow it to fully bake (reducing the temperature to 425F if the bread seems to be browning too fast) for about 15 minutes longer.  Remove to a rack to cool completely before slicing.


to print the recipe, click here

Comments:  The blue cheese I used was quite strong, and until I tasted a slice of this bread I was quite worried. The smell as it baked was so intense, I thought that adding the cheese was overkill. Well, I was wrong. No need to worry at all. The cheese pretty much melted throughout the crumb, and gave it sort of background of flavor, almost smoky, although it could be the roasted hazelnuts speaking. Hard to tell. I love the way the crumb delicately involved each piece of nut, like little eggs in a nest.  And the taste? Incredible. I had to pat myself in the back for this bread, even if my parents insisted that modesty is one of the most important qualities of a human being. A pat in the back is not that bad, right? It’s  not as if I’m bragging to the world about it… what? Is that what blogging is about?  But, but, but… will you look at this crumb?


If that’s not a pat-in-the-back crumb, I don’t know what is… 

ONE YEAR AGO: My First Truffle Adventure: Poulet Demi-Deuil

TWO YEARS AGO: My Rio de Janeiro: A Cookbook Review

THREE YEARS AGO: Hearts of Palm Salad with Cilantro Vinaigrette

FOUR YEARS AGO: Watercress Salad

FIVE YEARS AGO: Curried Zucchini Soup

SIX YEARS AGO: Chocolate Bread


One of the gifts we’ve received during the holidays was a super special box of Royal Riviera pears from Harry and David.  Inside the box, a little card with a recipe for a salad that would make the pears shine.  They ship the pears slightly unripe, with instructions on the best way to store them as they reach their peak, and also on how to tell when they get there.  We had to wait for a little less than a week, then enjoyed the juiciest pears ever!   The salad? It was so good that we made it again a couple of days later… Come to think of it, that in itself is a huge endorsement, because I tend not to crave salads during the cold months of the year.

Rogue Valley Salad

(recipe adapted from Harry & David)

for the dressing:
2 tbsp Champagne vinegar
1 tbsp Dijon mustard
1 tsp agave nectar
1/2 tsp sea salt
1 tsp freshly ground pepper
1/2 cup walnut oil (I used less)

for the salad:
1 head butter lettuce, washed and dried
1 large Royal Riviera Pears, peeled, cored and sliced
1/4  cup Rogue Creamery or other blue cheese, crumbled
1/2 cup  toasted walnuts

Make the dressing: Mix together the first five ingredients. Gradually whisk in the walnut oil. Chill for 20 minutes.

Gently tear the lettuce into bite sized pieces. Arrange on four chilled plates. Top with fans of pear slices. Sprinkle blue cheese evenly over the pears and lettuce and top with nuts. Drizzle the dressing generously over the salad, and serve at once.


to print the recipe, click here


The recipe calls for 1/2 cup of walnut oil, I used a lot less than that but kept the other amounts the same. I like my salad to be just barely coated with dressing and prefer it a little less oily. Also, considering the price for walnut oil, I rather use it with a little less abandon.  😉   On my second time preparing this recipe, the dressing was similar, but instead of walnuts I used very thinly sliced celery.  I mixed the celery with the dressing as it chilled for 20 minutes and then incorporated both into the other components.  Two pears were consumed in the name of this delicious salad, the others we enjoyed late at night, usually watching nice movies…  Like the trilogy:  Before Sunrise, Before Sunset, and Before Midnight.  I highly recommend those, Julie Delpy is simply superb!

ONE YEAR AGO: Keema Beef Curry

TWO YEARS AGO: Pork Tenderloin with Soy, Ginger, and Lime

THREE YEARS AGO: No-Fuss Coffee Cake

FOUR YEARS AGO: Swedish Limpa