Sunday, 2 November 2008

Chestnut and Honey Bread

The wild food foraging I usually enjoy at this time of the year has been poor to say the least. Last autumn, I found a lovely little patch of woodland that had plenty of my favourite autumn foods: sloes, damsons, elderberries, brambles and chestnuts, plenty to go around and to leave a few for the birds and squirrels. This year, I fear the poor summer that we have had has given the berries a torrid time. Either that or my secret patch has been rumbled.

Chestnuts are one of the best free nuts, with their versatile sweet inner just bursting with flavour and awaiting a multitude of dishes. Roasting a few and eating warm with a little salt and pepper is good enough, but a simple pot roast using a game bird such as pheasant, grouse or partridge with a few roasted chestnuts thrown in is simply amazing. Boil chestnuts, whiz in a blender and you have a nutty purée that is perfect for cakes and scones or even an ice cream.

I made bread with a handful of them over the weekend, and the warmth and smell that the bread gave off made you feel happy that the winter is almost upon us. Some good honey sweetened the bread without overpowering it. Perfect bread for a perfect season of food I thought, even if my free food patch is no more.

Chestnut and Honey Bread


500g strong bread flour
200g chestnuts, cooked and peeled
1 tsp salt
1 heaped tsp ready active yeast
150ml honey
300ml warm water

1 – Tip the flour into a large bowl. Crumble in the chestnuts and mix together with the salt and yeast.
2 – Mix the honey and water together. Make a well in the flour and begin to gradually pour the water and honey on, mixing all of the time with your other hand.
3 – When the mixture comes together, tip out onto a floured surface and begin to knead by pulling the furthest edge towards you with your fingers then pushing with the palm of your hand.
4 – Repeat this until the dough becomes smooth and an impression of your hand when pushed in springs straight back out. Place back into the bowl, sprinkle on some flour and place in a warm place for 1 hour or until it has doubled in size.
5 – Preheat the oven to 220C GM8.
6 – Gently knead the dough until you have pushed the air out then place onto a floured backing tray. Cover and leave for another hour until it has doubled in size.
7 – Gently place onto the middle shelf of your oven and bake for 10 minutes. Turn the temperature down to 200C GM6 and cook for a further 20-30 minutes or until it makes a ‘hollow’ sound when tapped. Leave cool on a wire tray.

11 comments:

Holler said...

I bet this had a wonderful flavour. A nice simple loaf too.

Amanda at Little Foodies said...

Lovely!! The boys returned from a walk today with tiny chestnuts from a nearby field. They weren't big enough to roast... We have a new wood burning stove - big smile! Hubs bought some chestnuts to roast yesterday. They were great but expensive. So much tastier when they're free - how do you explain that one?!

Cynthia said...

I read a post like this and wish I live somewhere that had seasons.

Cathy said...

Hi David

Been reading for a while, and trying recipes, but never posted. I made your swede and lentil soup the other day which was very much enjoyed! This autumn has has been terrible for sloes and damsons - not a one on the normally reliable trees that I usually rely on. So no sloe gin for Xmas this year which is a great shame. I did find a sweet chestnut tree though, during my fruitless search for sloes/damsons, so am now inspired to go pick some - thanks.

Bellini Valli said...

Anything that makes me happy that winter is upon us in alright by me David:D

Jeena said...

I have been baking bread recently too....maybe it is the seasons but smelling the dough cook inside while it is cold outside is wonderful.

I bet the aroma of your chestnut bread was fantastic it sounds so filling and tasty. :-)

aforkfulofspaghetti said...

This sounds delicious. As someone who loves chestnuts, not to mention honey, I think I'm going to have to give this recipe a whirl... Thanks for sharing!

Helen said...

Wow! Chestnut and honey bread sounds divine!! What a beautifully British and wintery recipe. I am envious of your foraging. Hopefully you will have better luck next year though.

Aimée said...

This must have smelled wonderful when it was baking. Really lovely, David!
I had chestnut ice cream recently and it was one of the best things I have ever tasted.

Rosie said...

Freshly baked bread with chestnut and honey what a wonderful flavour this bread must be!

Rosie x

Sam Sotiropoulos said...

Sounds to me like others have discovered your little woodland forage spot. uh-oh... As for chestnut honey bread, sounds similar to something my grandmother used to make in Greece. Greeks are HUGE chestnut fans so no need to sell me on their culinary virtues and ready availability in the countryside. I have a family member (more a long longtime family friend and my father's best man) who produces chestnuts in Greece. Nice post, thanks for sharing.