Is it just me, or is there Magic in walking through Nature’s Garden, only to stop and take food straight from its origin? Perhaps it’s a connection with our primal instinct but the wash of joy and fulfilment as I return home with foraged goods and take time to prepare them is unrivalled.
Sweet Chestnuts are just one of those joys, multiplied by the fact that you managed to snaffle some before the squirrels baffle you by depositing their empty shells.
Make this and eat it warm with butter after a long walk in the chestnut laden woods…
80g Unsalted Butter
500g Strong Bread Flour
1 tsp Salt
3 tbsp Caster Sugar
7g Fast Action Yeast
100ml Whole Milk
2 Large Eggs
100g Cooked Chestnuts, peeled & finely chopped
1 Egg yolk + 2 tsp Milk to glaze
1. Have a large bowl lightly greased at the ready. Melt the butter in a small pan and set aside to cool slightly.
2. Warm the milk and water to body temperature, when you put your finger in, it should feel neither hot nor cold. Add 1 tsp sugar and the yeast and whisk with a fork. Set aside for 5 minutes to foam up.
3. Add the remaining sugar, salt, and flour to the bowl of a stand mixer and whisk to combine. Add the yeast and milk, followed by the eggs and melted butter. Using a dough hook, begin to knead the dough.
4. After it has come together, add the chestnuts. Knead on medium speed for 8-10 minute or until you have a smooth, glossy dough studded with chestnut pieces. This can also be kneaded by hand.
5. Transfer to your prepared bowl and cover. Allow to double in size. The time this takes will depend on the temperature of your room, anywhere between 1-3 hours.
6. Once doubled, weigh the dough, and divide into 4 pieces. Form each piece into a strand about 40cm long. Secure the strands at one end by sticking together.
7. Think of the strands as 2 pairs of 2. Take the right strand of each pair and cross it over the left. Then take the middle strands and cross left over right.
8. Continue this way until you have braided the whole loaf. Form into ring and set on a tray lined with baking paper. Preheat oven 200C.
9. Allow the bread to rise until almost doubled, about 1 hour then brush the glaze over the bread. Bake for 40 minutes or until golden.
10. Remove and allow to cool on a wire rack before dusting with icing sugar and serving with butter.