- Make a sponge: combine water, yeast honey and white flour in a large bowl. stir to combine, then cover with a damp towel and let rest for ~1 hour or so.
- Add rye flour, walnuts, butter, salt and 1 cup of the whole wheat flour to sponge; stir and/or knead down, adding additional flour as necessary until the mixture is no longer sticky. Turn onto a flat surface and knead for several minutes, until the dough becomes smooth and elastic.
- Set in an oiled bowl, cover with damp towel or plastic wrap and allow to rise for about ~1-1.5 hours. I like to pop it in the oven with the pilot light; it sets a nice ambient temperature for coaxing the fermentation into gear.
- Deflate dough by punching down; fold in chopped pears. Knead into a round and then return to a neutral spot to rest again until doubled in size; ~2 hours.
- Deflate dough again and shape into a neat round and set on parchment or floured kitchen towel for another 1.5-2 hours until dough redoubles in size.
- As dough is entering the final rise, adjust oven rack and set a pizza stone or cast iron skillet in the center. Turn heat to 450 degrees and allow stone or skillet heat for ~40 minutes.
- Turn dough onto skillet/stone; slash decoratively, brush with milk and place in oven. Spritz oven with a bit of water to create a steam environment.
- In 15 minutes, spritz again and turn heat to 400 degrees.
- Bake for a further 25 minutes, until deep golden brown. Remove from oven and tap bottom of round; it’ll sound hollow if it is done.
- Wait (patiently!) for a good 30 minutes as dough cools on rack before slicing.
- Store, wrapped in cloth or a paper bag on counter for 1-2 days. To preserve some of the bread for later, simply bundle in layers of plastic wrap and store in the freezer.
I’m always tagging recipes to refer to later; all of my cookbooks have dog-eared edges (don’t judge). I have boxes here and there with printed or hand-written favorites, tabs throughout my Cook’s Illustrated magazines, foodie folders in my email accounts. My organizational skills are a bit sub-par, so finding a reference when I’m in creation mode presents somewhat of a challenge.
I did manage to include the last bit of wildflower honey produced on the farm. I love using ingredients that are local and familiar; it makes the experience that much more personal.
Lately, I find myself craving cauliflower soup.
Oh, and chocolate.
- I’ll explore that later.