Walnut bread for not so adventurous toddlers

Sometimes people surprise you. Like when my Dad states Gavin and Stacey is one of his favourite programmes, or when my husband calls to say he's in John Lewis looking for piping bags for me. Or when my two year old firmly shouts 'bread yummy mummy.' 

You see, Charlie has never been great with bread. I thought it was the admin time required to eat it in sandwich form. I thought it took both hands away from his train track for too long. I was wrong. He was protesting about the inferior bread being served. I stupidly assumed that small person = simple tastes. Not so. (Hey, I just couldn't bear the thought of him being the kind of toddler who ordered his own babychino.)

Out with the old white sliced spongy bread and in with homemade walnut bread. Oh my, this bread is good, and I say that as someone who has been known to treat bread with caution (as a teenager of the Atkins revolution.) Now I say Eat Bread! This stuff is especially good cut into soldiers and dipped into egg according to Charlie. Or dipped into yoghurt - also according to Charlie. He's coming over a bit Heston again recently. 

Walnut bread - adapted just a little bit from The Roux Brothers


- 500g strong white flour
- 5g salt (normal, normal, normal, no need for Maldon!)
- 50g soft brown sugar, the darker and stickier the better
- 25g fresh yeast (halve the amount if using sachet stuff but Morrisons do sell it next to the butter or ask at any supermarket in store bakery and they might just give it to you for free)
- 4 tbsp water - room temp
- 60g butter
- 250ml milk - blood temp - like you'd prepare a bath for a baby
- 60g walnut pieces 
- a little olive oil for greasing, or walnut oil if you're feeling like a purist 

Cook the butter in a saucepan until it browns - take off the heat and pour into a measuring jug that already has the milk and water in it. Pop your finger in - if it's warm and comfy to keep it in there then add the yeast and whisk the mixture up. If it's too warm leave to cool a little before you add the yeast. You don't want to murder the yeast you see. 

In your Kenwood or similar appliance add the flour, salt and sugar and mix on the lowest setting, using the dough hook for about one minute. Then add the yeasty mixture as it's turning. Once it's all in leave the machine running for around 4 mins until the dough goes from looking sticky to smooth and elastic like. Add the walnuts and let it run for one more minute to distribute them evenly. 

Take the bowl out of the mixer, cover with a damp tea towel and then leave in a warmish, but not too hot place. A warm kitchen is ideal or I tend to put mine near a radiator as Bell Towers is on the cool side. Leave for around one hour until it's doubled in size. Don't put it anywhere too hot - not on top of a radiator for example. That's too hot and will result in a fast rise. You don't want that. 

Then tip the lot onto a work surface and pull one side of the bread over into the middle, then turn 90 degrees and do the same, then two more times. That's it. Very little knocking back for this bread. Roll into a loaf like shape and pop into a greased tin, then cover with clingfilm and leave for around 45 mins. When it's doubled in size again simply put into the middle of a preheated oven Gas 8 for about 35 minutes. Watch it like a hawk - Gas 8 means the top might burn so you may need to turn it down a little if your oven is over zealous like mine. 

This bread is so so good. I like it with cheese melted on it. I like it with eggs. I like it with sliced tomatoes and a little salt. I like it with pastrami and mustard. In fact I will pretty much eat it with anything. Make it! Your toddler and significant other(s) will love you. 
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