This has been my go to bread while I have been without a sourdough starter (somehow mine ended up in the cupboard instead of the fridge, RIP). It’s almost entirely whole wheat, but it tastes surprisingly sweet due to a recent addition to my pantry: white whole wheat flour. White whole wheat flour IS 100% whole wheat, so don’t let the name fool you. The whole wheat you’re probably used to seeing in the grocery store is made from red wheat, which has a darker colour and stronger flavour. White whole wheat flour is made from white wheat, which is lighter and much milder.
I tried chestnut jam for the first time when I was in France WWOOFing on an organic farm last month. Since they grew their own chestnuts, their confiture de marron was homemade and a staple on the breakfast table each day. I slathered it onto my bread and stirred it into my porridge, so taken by the earthiness and subtle sweetness of this spread. I knew I needed to make it when I got home. So, to balance the incredibly easy bread recipe below, I’m including a slightly more time consuming homemade jam (I can’t find chestnut jam in any stores anyway).
I’m not gonna lie, roasting and peeling those chestnuts is a little bit tedious. It is definitely worthwhile though when you get to enjoy the fruits of your labour by : 1) sipping on a glass of wine, then inhaling deeply as the chestnuts simmer with a vanilla bean and the warm scents fill your kitchen, and 2) sprinkling some flakey salt on one piece, then chocolate sprinkles (hagelslag, which I picked up in the Netherlands) on another.
no knead whole wheat bread with chestnut vanilla jam (vegan, vegetarian)
inspired by Jim Lahey’s no knead bread
2 1/2 cups / 340g white whole wheat flour
1/2 cup / 70g all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon instant yeast
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 1/2 cups /350 g warm water
Whisk together the dry ingredients in a large bowl. Add the water, and stir with a spoon until everything is incorporated and there are no dry spots. Cover with a towel, and leave to rise for 12-14 hours.* Generously flour your counter, and using a bowl scraper ease the dough onto the counter. Flour the top, then gently shape the dough into either a round (for a boule) or an oblong shape (for a standard loaf).
For a boule: line a medium bowl with a tea towel/napkin and dust with rice flour, then place the dough in the bowl seam side up. Cover with another towel, and let rise for about 2 hours. 30 minutes before baking, start preheating your oven to 450F (fan) with a large dutch oven inside. When you’re ready to bake, remove the dutch oven and take off the lid. Gently flip the bowl over the dutch oven, trying to land the dough in the centre (alternatively you can place some parchment over the bowl, flip the dough onto it, and lower it into the dutch oven holding the edges of the parchment). Slash the bread a couple times, then place the lid on and bake for 20 minutes. After 25 minutes reduce the heat to 425F (fan), remove the lid and continue baking for another 20 minutes until the crust is really golden, then turn out onto a rack to cool.
For a loaf: lightly oil a 9×4 loaf pan (make sure it is okay at high temperatures!), then place your dough in seam side down. Cover with a towel and let rise for 2 hours. 30 minutes before baking, start preheating your oven to 450F (fan) with a large sheet pan on the bottom rack. When you’re ready to bake, remove the towel and slash the top of the loaf. Place the loaf into the oven and pour 1 cup of boiling water onto the sheet pan, then close the oven quickly to keep the steam inside. After 20 minutes reduce the heat to 425F (fan), and continue baking for another 20 minutes until the crust is really golden. Turn out onto a rack to cool.
makes about 2 cups
550 g whole chestnuts
1 vanilla bean
135 g sugar
1/2 teaspoon lemon juice
Preheat your oven to 400F (fan). Carefully cut an ‘x’ into the rounded side of a handful of chestnuts**. Bake for 8-10 minutes until the shell has started to peel back. Remove from the oven, and carefully remove the shell and inner fuzzy skin. Repeat until all the chestnuts have been peeled.*** Once peeled, I had about 300 g chestnuts. Add those to a medium pot with 550 g water and one vanilla bean, then bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer. Cook for 30-40 minutes until they easily break apart. Add 135 g sugar and stir until dissolved. Split the vanilla bean and add the paste back to the pot (you can always use the leftover bean to infuse your bag of sugar!). Blend with an immersion blender or food processor, add 1/2 teaspoon lemon juice, then reduce heat to low and stir until thickened to the consistency of apple butter, about 15-20 minutes.
*If the timing doesn’t work out and you end up having to leave the house, just place the bowl in the fridge and continue when you get back. The cold temperature will slow down the fermentation, and the cold dough is actually a bit easier to handle. I have made this dough and left it out for 6 hours, then put it in the fridge for 12 hours and proceeded with shaping and had excellent results. The second rise in the pan/bowl takes a bit longer because the dough is cold, so you just need to watch for signs that it’s ready (springs back very slowly when poked).
** Try to cut the ‘x’ through the shell layer so that steam can escape, so they will be easier to peel and prevent them from exploding
*** Chestnuts are easiest to peel when hot, so just do a handful at a time (I did about 8 or 9 at a time)