This is a long overdue post of my third bread baketogether (BBT) with Hanaa where we made a Maple Walnut Oat Bread found in the King Arthur Flour website. The recipe makes one 9 x 5 loaf but I decided to divide the dough in half and bake them together in the pan so I could have 2 mini loaves instead. Looking back now, I wish I placed only half of the walnuts in one dough and left the other one without nuts just so I could taste the difference.
I've always associated maple syrup as a breakfast item -- I love it (and usually have it) drizzled generously over buttermilk pancakes or French toast but I'm ashamed to say that they were the supermarket kind -- very far in taste from natural maple syrup not to mention high in bad sugars like high fructose corn syrup. Luckily, a number of stores here have now started selling natural and organic maple syrup so I bought a small bottle of Spring Tree Grade B maple syrup specifically for this bread and for a few recipes that I found that makes use of a good amount of the real thing. I admit that I was half-expecting for this bread to taste like maple syrup-drizzled pancakes which wouldn't be a bad thing at all LOL.
This bread was so easy to make especially with the bread machine. My mistake was following the recipe too much by putting the walnuts during the initial mix. I should've waited for the gluten to properly develop first before doing so. As shown in the pic above, the sharp edges of the walnuts had a puncturing effect on the dough and left a few holes on one of the loaves' crust. I omitted the vital wheat gluten in this recipe as I used a new brand of unbleached flour which I believe has a high amount of protein already (about 12.7-13.5 %) and I didn't want to risk having an overly chewy bread by adding more gluten. But I think since this bread is heavy on the nuts and oats, adding a little VWG, maybe about 2 teaspoons, would've helped strengthen the gluten strands.
|After 45 minutes of proofing|
With the amount of sugar in the dough, I tented the loaves with aluminum foil 20 minutes into baking. This was necessary to prevent over-browning which may give the crust an unpleasant bitterness as well. Good thing the holes caused by the walnuts didn't make the other loaf collapse.
|It's not quite seen in the pics but the walnuts gave the crumb a little purplish hue. This is said to be the reaction of the oil of the walnuts from the acids of fermentation.|
VERDICT: I was somewhat disappointed with the lack of maple flavor of this bread but it's still a tasty, light and fluffy loaf nonetheless. I think adding the optional maple flavoring and maple sugar (which I didn't have) would've given it the maple flavor I was expecting -- I figured that since they were optional ingredients, they weren't essential to giving the loaf its maple-ness but they are. I would definitely include these 2 ingredients the next time I make this. And since maple syrup doesn't really have a strong taste (as this bread shows), I think it could be a good substitute for honey to any bread recipe that calls for it.
*This bread has been YeastSpotted*