Walnut Sage Bread from the Bakehouse

Excerpt from Ari’s Top 5 enews

Special Bake October 7th and 8th

Late on Friday afternoon I will be at the Bakeshop to pick up a couple of loaves of this terrific Special Bake. If you like good bread as much as I do, you might want to do the same! Before the pandemic, the Walnut Sage bread had become one of my favorites. It was a bit of a casualty of Covid but now it’s making a brief autumn appearance. I will be taking home a bunch! Because it’s naturally leavened (no commercial yeast) it lasts a long time. And it’s so delicious I will happily keep eating it all week!

Everything about the Walnut Sage bread is, I think, excellent! We use freshly milled hard red spring wheat and the super-flavorful, ancient emmer wheat (the ancestor of the modern durum wheat, if you will)—both are regionally grown grains that make a short trip to the Bakehouse. In an effort to coax out the full potential of the grain, we do a long and slow 20-hour, overnight, natural fermentation of a very wet dough that is dyed purple thanks to the tannins from the skins of the walnuts. The long bake means that caramelization of the natural sugars in the grain creates a marvelously toasty, subtly sweet flavor that holds its own with the boldness of the freshly milled grains. Then there’s the dark, devilish, delicious crust. On top of which, I love walnuts in bread. It’s just such a great combo—the walnuts get toasted in a terrific way while they’re in the oven.

I don’t want to forget the Greek sage leaves—they’re subtle, way back in the mix, but bring an aromatic depth to the loaf that I really like too! The sage comes from our friends at Epices de Cru in Montreal—it’s a rare variety that grows high in the mountains of the island of Chios in the north Aegean. The leaves are handpicked only after the aromatic sage bushes have dried in the sun for months. The whole thing comes together in the form of an earthy, toasty, terrific wheaty loaf!

What do you do with Walnut Sage bread? Well, obviously, you could just sit down and eat it! Super great with fresh Goat Cream Cheese. A slice of Walnut Sage bread, toasted and spread with the fresh handmade Cream Cheese is something special. When you toast it, the aromas from the grain fill the room. It’s great with blue cheeses of all sorts. If you want to go on the sweeter side, try it with Cream Cheese and some dark honey—maybe that Séka Hills honey from California I wrote about a few weeks ago. Makes great crunchy croutons.