pan de nueces

Pan de Nueces – A Walnut Rye Bread for Cheeses

When you live in a place with a lot of cheeses, you tend to always have one around. I know that I certainly do. And when you have cheese, you need bread. You would think that this was obvious to everyone, but apparently not. There is not a single bread in Spain dedicated to enjoying with cheese. So I decided to fix that, and created an Asturian version of an old Alsatian walnut rye bread for that purpose. This is my Asturian pan de nueces, designed to accompany the myriad of amazing Asturian cheeses.

Inspiration for Pan de nueces

alsace region, inspiration for pan de nueces
Alsace, the home of so much bread.

The Alsace region lies on the border between France and Germany, on the west bank of the river Rhine. It has alternated between French and German control for centuries, and the culture and gastronomy reflect that mixture. It also happens to be the home of several of my favorite baked goods. Favorites such as Kugelhopf, gingerbread, Christmas stollen, bredela (what we in America think of as “Christmas cookies”), not to mention flammekueche which is essentially Alsatian pizza. That made it a natural place for me to look when thinking about a bread to enjoy with my cheeses.

In the 1970s, French chefs discovered this deep well of bread baking knowledge, and began adapting the breads of Alsace to their own needs – primarily for serving along with cheeses at the end of meals.1Calvel, Raymond, et al. The Taste of Bread: A Translation of Le Goût Du Pain, Comment Le Préserver, Comment Le Retrouver. pp 108 1st ed., Springer, 2013. Open WorldCat, https://doi.org/10.1007/978-1-4757-6809-1. I have used their innovations, and paired them to some specifically Asturian ingredients to make a bread that, in my opinion, should become a standard on tablas de quesos throughout Asturias. This walnut rye bread uses much loved local rye, ever-present walnuts, and the definitive Asturian cider for all of its hydration. The result is a tangy, unctuous bread that stands up well to the flavors of even the strongest cheeses, slices thin like a dream, and is dense enough to serve as the base for a tapa if one were so inclined.

Special Equipment

standard loaf pan for pan de nueces
A standard loaf pan.

You will need a stand mixer with a dough hook, or very strong forearms. This bread is a lower hydration than I normally make, so it requires much more mixing to achieve the texture we want. My general rule of thumb when converting from machine kneading to hand kneading is to multiply the time by 5. So be warned that if you set out to make this pan de nueces the old-fashioned way, you’ll get quite a workout!

You will also need what Americans call a “standard loaf pan”. This is a pan measuring 8.5 x 4.5 x 2.5 inches and silver-grey in color. Easily found absolutely anywhere in a shocking range of prices. I suggest buying from a restaurant supply store or a big-box retailer, as there is zero functional benefit to expensive versions.

Ingredient Sourcing

You should have little trouble sourcing the ingredients for this recipe. For the flours feel free to use whatever is easiest to get. An unbleached white flour is a great choice, as is standard All Purpose flour. Rye flour will be available mostly in one grade, so use what you find!

For the still cider – if you do not have access to uncarbonated cider, the easiest thing to do is simply to open a bottle of whatever cider you have around the day before. That way it will go flat and be “still” by the time you are ready to use it.

Variations & Other Uses

This is a wonderful base for a large number of different breads for snacking. Switch out the nuts for whatever other kind you like. Likewise, replace the cider with another slightly sour alcoholic beverage for a range of different flavors. Pecan Stout Bread anyone?

Adding raisins to this recipe will create a really grown-up version of the raisin bread we all grew up on in the States in the 1980s. Switching out the raisins for any other dried fruit gives you a ton of options as well.

For the artisanal bread baker out there, experiment with making this with a 100% rye levain de pâte. I promise you won’t be disappointed.

The Recipe

CategoryDifficultyIntermediate
Walnut Rye Bread

A mixed wheat and rye bread with walnuts added. This particular loaf is designed specifically to be sliced thinly and served with the amazing variety of Asturian cheeses. Adding raisins to this loaf will produce something like a very grown-up version of the walnut raisin bread common in the US.

Yields24 Servings
Prep Time2 hrs 50 minsCook Time35 minsTotal Time3 hrs 25 mins
 680 g Wheat Flour Type 55
 320 g Rye Flour Type 130
 680 ml Still Cider
 2 g Salt
 2 g Active Dry Yeast
 1 g White Wine Vinegar
 150 g Walnuts
Mise en place
1

For this recipe, you will need:

* A stand mixer with a dough hook
* A "standard" loaf pan (8-1/2 x 4-1/2 x 2-1/2 inches)

For the dough
2

In the bowl of your stand mixer, combine the two flours.

3

Gently warm the cider to 50C (125F), then add it to the flour mixture.
Run the mixer on low speed for 30 seconds.
Allow this mixture to rest for 20 minutes or so.

4

Add the salt and yeast to the mixture, then run the mixer on the lowest speed for 5 minutes.

5

Add your chopped walnuts to the dough and run the mixer on speed 2 for a further 6 minutes or so.

6

Remove the bowl from the mixer and cover with plastic wrap.
Allow the dough to rest for 60 minutes.

7

Flour a work surface (I work directly on my kitchen counter).
Gently ease the dough out of the mixing bowl.
Form the dough into a rectangular shape and gently place it in your loaf pan.
Allow it to rise a further 70 minutes or so.

8

Preheat your oven to 240C (465F).
Bake on the middle rack for 35 minutes.

9

Turn the loaf out onto a cooling rack and allow it to rest for at least an hour before slicing.

Ingredients

 680 g Wheat Flour Type 55
 320 g Rye Flour Type 130
 680 ml Still Cider
 2 g Salt
 2 g Active Dry Yeast
 1 g White Wine Vinegar
 150 g Walnuts

Directions

Mise en place
1

For this recipe, you will need:

* A stand mixer with a dough hook
* A "standard" loaf pan (8-1/2 x 4-1/2 x 2-1/2 inches)

For the dough
2

In the bowl of your stand mixer, combine the two flours.

3

Gently warm the cider to 50C (125F), then add it to the flour mixture.
Run the mixer on low speed for 30 seconds.
Allow this mixture to rest for 20 minutes or so.

4

Add the salt and yeast to the mixture, then run the mixer on the lowest speed for 5 minutes.

5

Add your chopped walnuts to the dough and run the mixer on speed 2 for a further 6 minutes or so.

6

Remove the bowl from the mixer and cover with plastic wrap.
Allow the dough to rest for 60 minutes.

7

Flour a work surface (I work directly on my kitchen counter).
Gently ease the dough out of the mixing bowl.
Form the dough into a rectangular shape and gently place it in your loaf pan.
Allow it to rise a further 70 minutes or so.

8

Preheat your oven to 240C (465F).
Bake on the middle rack for 35 minutes.

9

Turn the loaf out onto a cooling rack and allow it to rest for at least an hour before slicing.

Pan de Nueces – A Walnut Rye Bread to Accompany Cheeses

  • 1
    Calvel, Raymond, et al. The Taste of Bread: A Translation of Le Goût Du Pain, Comment Le Préserver, Comment Le Retrouver. pp 108 1st ed., Springer, 2013. Open WorldCat, https://doi.org/10.1007/978-1-4757-6809-1.

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