Pear and walnut bread

By Juanita Hennessey, MasterChef finalist 2016

Makes 1 loaf

Ingredients

  • 500g spelt flour
  • 300ml warm water
  • 3 firm pears
  • 2 tbsp honeycomb/honey
  • 3 tbsp walnuts
  • 15g dry yeast
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp caster sugar
  • Squeeze of lemon
  • Salt


Preparation

  • The first step is to activate the yeast.
  • Dissolve the sugar in 300ml of luke warm water. Sprinkle over the yeast and then leave for 15 mins somewhere warm.
  • You will know when it’s activated as the surface will be frothy. Give the mix a gentle whisk with a fork and now it is ready to use.
  • While the yeast is activating you can prepare the other ingredients.
  • Grate the pears and squeeze over the lemon juice to stop them turning brown.
  • Roughly chop the walnuts and should you be using honeycomb instead of runny honey then roughly chop that too.
  • You are now ready to start the kneading process.
  • If you have a freestanding mixer with a dough hook put the flour, salt and yeast into the bowl and set the speed to medium.
  • It should take 6 minutes to get to the consistency you want which is a fairly dry but smooth dough. If you don’t have a mixer you can of course do this by hand but it will just take a bit longer to knead.
  • Next add the pears, walnuts and honeycomb and mix with your hands.
  • The mix will get quite wet at this point and it will take a bit of effort to incorporate everything, but keep persevering.
  • Once mixed cover the bowl loosely with cling film or a damp tea towel and leave somewhere warm to rise for 1.5 hours.
  • The dough should double in size after this time – once you are happy with the rise you can transfer into a lightly oiled bread tin which has also been dusted with flour.
  • This mix makes a little bit too much for a standard bread tin but you can use the spare to form a couple of small rolls.
  • You need to leave the bread to rise again for another 30–45 mins in the tin. In the meantime pre-heat the oven to 190°C (fan).
  • When you’re ready to bake, place the bread in the middle of the oven and cook for 45 mins.
  • You will know if it’s ready as the base of the loaf will sound hollow when you tap it with your finger – if it still has a dull thud your bread probably needs a bit longer in the oven so pop it in for a further 5–10 mins.
  • Turn out and leave to cool on a wire rack.
  • Best served warm but will keep well for 2–3 days in an air tight container.