Walnut and Honey Soda Bread

Seattle's summer may finally be coming to an end. We had our first day of rain in 48 days (3 days from the longest dry spell in 1951). I know it isn't officially fall yet but there is definitely a different feel in the air today and in honor of that I am posting this very Fall recipe.

Seattle's summers are usually short and gorgeous. It is always a little sad when the summer ends, in large part because I think of all the things I was going to do (hiking! camping! picnics!) and what I did mostly (work) and get a little disappointed. But, if you're a baker there is something special about the start of Fall. Especially in my family, which is full of Fall birthdays, we are gearing up for birthday cakes, pumpkin and apple pies, and entire month dedicated to Christmas cookies. In Summer, who wants to even turn on the oven.
This is a tasty rustic soda bread with walnuts and honey.It is easy to whip together. I served it with fig jam and blue cheese, which was an excellent combination. I think it would also go really well with sharp cheddar cheese and apple slices. Or with a pumpkin soup, which is creamy and hearty and a little sweet. It is a little dry, which happens with soda bread sometime so I would recommend eating it right away. I don't think it would keep very well. Enjoy the start of Fall and look forward to seeing more recipes!

Walnut and Honey Soda Bread

9 1/2 tbsps honey
1 2/3 cups walnuts
4 1/4 cups all-purpose whole-wheat flour, plus extra for dusting
2 tsps fine salt
4 tsps baking powder
1 1/4 cups water
1. Preheat th oven to 400F degrees. Soften the honey in a pan over low heat. Using a mortar and pestle, crush half of the walnuts very finely, almost to a powder. Crush the other half very coarsely. This gives the ideal combination -- lots of flavor from the crush nuts, and texture from the large pieces.
2. Combine the flour, salt, baking powder, and walnuts in a bowl. Add the honey and water and mix together until evenly combined. Knead briefly to a firm dough.
3. Divide the dough into 2 pieces and shape into rough rounds. Flatten to about 2 inches high and cut a deep cross in each, almost through to the base. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until the bread sounds hollow when tapped on the base.
4. Let the bread cool a little on a wire rack. If you're wondering what to have it with, a lump of Stilton and a ripe juicy pear would be perfect.
From The River Cottage Bread Handbook by Daniel Stevens

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