There’s nothing quite like the smell of homemade bread baking in the oven. The warmth of the oven encompassing the kitchen and the anticipation of taking the first bite.
Bread is an absolute staple in Albanian cuisine. You can usually count on a couple of slices for breakfast and lunch, each with a topping of choice. You’ll find, more often than not, an emphasis on hearty breads that rely on a variety of flours, whole grains and seeds.

And while it may be easy to just pick up a loaf from the local bakery or store, nothing beats the taste of homemade bread.

AgroWeb.org brings a unique recipe on how to make walnut bread! It’s a hearty bread with just a touch of sweetness from the raisins. The walnuts and almonds give the bread a wonderful texture. The crust is crispy and the center is soft. It also goes well with both sweet and savory toppings or served in a basket at mealtime.

Ingredients

(Makes 4 medium-sized loaves)

• 1 kg (8 cups) flour
• 250g (2 cups) fine, whole wheat flour
• 250g (2 cups) course, whole wheat flour
• 20 g fresh yeast or 1 packet of dry yeast
• 1 Tb olive oil
• 1Tb honey
• 1 Tb salt
• 1 litre (4 cups) water
• 1 ½ cups walnuts, roughly chopped
• 1 ½ cups shredded almonds
• 1 ½ cups raisins (optional)

Preparation

-Place all of the ingredients, except for the nuts and raisins, in a food mixer with a dough hook attachment. Knead the dough on low for about 15 minutes. If you do not wish to use a food mixer, just blend all the ingredients in a large bowl and pour out onto a floured surface and knead by hand. You will want the dough to be quite elastic.

-Place the dough out onto a floured surface and press the dough into a rough square. Sprinkle the nuts and raisins over the surface and roll up the dough. Then, knead briefly again to ensure the nuts and the raisins are thoroughly distributed throughout the dough. Shape the dough into a round ball, place in a greased bowl and cover with a tea towel. Let the dough rise in a warm place for about 3 hours.

-When the dough has finished rising, divide it into 4 equal parts and roll each into a ball. Place them on a prepared baking sheet with enough space in between to allow them to double in size. Sprinkle the tops with plain flour and leave them uncovered for 1 hour.

-Pre-heat the oven to 240°C/465°F. Place the bread on the bottom rack of the oven and immediately drop the temperature to 200°C/400°F. Bake for 40 minutes (again, on the bottom rack).

-Allow the breads to cool before serving. Perfect when warm with a slab of butter or top with your favorite topping like cheese, jam or honey./AgroWeb.org