Sourdough bread baking needn't be difficult or complicated, and this recipe is a case in point. Maple-Walnut Sourdough Bread is easy to mix up, easy to bake, and, best of all it's easy to eat. The bread isn't an "artisan loaf." It's a home-style, tastes good bread. The crumb is soft and dense, and the bread is mildly sweet from the maple syrup. The maple taste is definitely there, but it's more of a whisper than a shout. And the walnuts studding the bread provide a nice, slightly bitter crunch that complements the maple well. The bread is best cooled and then sliced for neater pieces. You can then toast it, if you like, or just serve the bread "as is." Or, if you want something really special, blend two tablespoons of softened butter with two tablespoons of maple syrup until the two are combined. Serve the "maple butter" with slices of the toasted bread. YUMM!
Sourdough Maple-Walnut Bread -- Makes 1 Loaf
1 cup of sourdough discard/starter (I use a whole-wheat-based starter)
1/4 cup of canola oil
1/4 cup of maple syrup
1 cup of whole-wheat flour
In a large bowl, whisk together the discard/starter, the egg, oil, and maple syrup. Stir in the flour and let the mixture sit, loosely covered for at least an hour. When you're ready, add:
3/4 cup of flour
1/2 teaspoon of salt
1/2 cup of chopped or broken walnuts (preferably toasted, but life will go on if they aren't)
Stir the mixture, then knead in up to 1/4 cup of additional flour, kneading the mixture for 3-5 minutes. The dough will be a bit sticky. That's fine. Some of the stickiness comes from the syrup, so don't add extra flour. Shape the dough into a loaf and place it in a loaf pan (9 x 5 works well) coated with non-stick cooking spray. I line my pan with aluminum foil first, then spray the foil, so that I can easily lift the bread from the pan after baking it. Do what you'd like--line the pan or not, either method works fine. Let the dough rise for 2-3 hours, depending on the temperature of your kitchen. The dough should increase by about 1/3-1/2 in size, or barely rise to the top of the pan. With a very sharp knife, slash across the top of the bread--about 1/4-inch deep--in several places (this lets the steam out, so you don't have fissures in your bread). Bake the dough at 350 degrees for about 35 minutes or until it is golden brown and reaches an internal temperature of about 190 degrees. Let the bread for a few minutes before removing it from the pan to finish cooling. Cool the bread completely before slicing it for neater slices.