It’s less than a week since the official date for St David’s Day, so it’s not too late to celebrate all things Welsh. I said I would see if I could incorporate leeks into my favourite bread recipe and share the results. Here they are:
I started with one of the basic recipes in my favourite bread cookbook, which was a gift 10 years ago. (I’ve made about 2/3 of the recipes, and we’ve loved every one of them):
Based on some of the other recipes in the book, I was pretty sure I could do what I wanted with leeks. I also took inspiration from the cookbook to make use of the as yet entirely untouched Brazil nuts we had acquired at Christmastime. I started with a brown bread recipe (part white, part whole wheat), but you could use any savoury bread dough you like.
Makes three small loaves.
|1 Tlb||Butter or oil|
|1 medium to large||Leek|
|1 recipe||Bread dough for about 2 pounds of bread|
|About a dozen||Whole Brazil nuts (hazelnuts would be more British); you want 1/3 to 1/2 cup broken nutmeats|
- Heat oil in non-stick pan.
- Wash leek and chop roughly; saute until slightly soft but still keeps shape:
- Set leeks aside to cool.
- Prepare nuts. After removing the shells, I like to gently bash the nuts a bit with a mortar and pestle. This releases some of the natural oils and gives a mix of large and small pieces of nutmeat. The small pieces are easier to mix in the dough, but the large pieces look good when sliced, and you get a burst of nutty flavour when you bite it.
- Mix up dough, following your normal procedures, right up to kneading.
- When about halfway through kneading, add the nuts and fully cooled leeks, making sure to include any juices. It will be gloppy and awkward at first, but then it will just be sticky for awhile and finally it will feel like bread dough again. You are aiming to have the additions well incorporated without interfering with the normal development of the gluten and without making the bread too heavy, so resist the temptation to add lots of flour at the gloppy or sticky stages. I like to use the dough hook on my KitchenAid to mix my bread dough ingredients and for kneading, except for the very last minute or two. Although I sometimes actually miss the whole procedure of kneading by hand, it’s a lot easier to resist the flour temptation if the machine is doing the messy bit, and my bread is better for it. Once I’m ready to do the final bit of kneading I do use a well floured surface, and for this batch of bread, I spent an extra couple of minutes getting the dough smooth before shaping it into a ball for resting.
- From this point, follow normal resting, shaping, proving (rising) and baking procedure for your basic bread recipe.