fat free opinions on a food centric life

Gourmet’s Rye Walnut Rolls

I don't know that I've had walnuts in anything that I didn't like.  I just like walnuts.  I like the bite on the side of my tongue that doesn't come when I chew into a pecan which is much more sweet.

Walnuts in cookies, salad, and pasta get my full, undivided attention, so it seems reasonable that I'd like them in bread, too.  And what a surprise that the bread isn't sweet, or filled with raisins and flavored with cinnamon.  But I wouldn't complain if that's what was put in front of me.  How could I?

No, it's a savory bread, and one filled with onions, too.  As I worked my way through this recipe, I wondered about how thyme, or a bit of cheese might taste.

And bacon.  Life is too short to not include a bit of pork fat when one can.

But I resisted, so it looks like I just may have to revisit this recipe, the third of four I've chosen to bake this month and featured in Gourmet.  I've enjoyed making bread once a week so far this month and am considering keeping up with it since the possibilities are endless and I have so much to learn.

I love possibilities.  They're just hovering out there, waiting for someone to take notice.

Unfortunately, it takes some motivation, doesn't it?  And my motivation failed me after I purchased the rye flour I was happy to have in my pantry for these lovely rolls.  It was to have been used in a starter that I promised to make and never did.

I'll get around to that one of these days, but in the meantime, it was nice to have the rye flour just waiting.

This recipe for Rye Walnut Rolls is the third of four for
the month of February as part of "Let Us Eat Bread," featuring recipes
from Gourmet's "Roll With It."  Our bread baking group includes:  Judy of No Fear Entertaining, Courtney of Coco Cooks, Andrea of Andrea's Recipes, Claire of The Barefoot Kitchen, and our fearless leader, Sandy of At the Baker's Bench. 

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Gourmet Magazine's Rye Walnut Rolls

1 medium onion, chopped (1 cup)
1 tablespoon salt, divided
1/2 cup olive oil
2 cups whole milk
2 teaspoons active dry yeast (from a 1/4-oz package)
1/4 cup warm water (105–115°F)
1 tablespoon mild honey or sugar
5 1/2 cups all-purpose flour plus more for kneading and dusting
1 cup rye flour
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
3/4 cup walnuts, toasted, cooled, and coarsely chopped
1 large egg beaten with 1 tablespoon water for egg wash
1/4 cup nigella or poppy seeds

Line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper. Cook onion with
1/4 teaspoon salt in oil in a 10-inch skillet over medium heat,
stirring occasionally, until softened, 4 to 5 minutes. Drain onions in
a sieve set over a bowl, reserving onions. Stir milk into onion oil in

Heat the onions in the oil and then drain.

Stir together yeast, warm water, and honey in a large bowl and
let stand until foamy, about 5 minutes. (If mixture doesn’t foam, start over with new yeast.)

Heat the honey with the water and dissolve before adding yeast.

Mix flours, pepper, milk mixture, and remaining 2-3/4 teaspoons salt
into yeast mixture with a wooden spoon or rubber spatula until a soft
dough forms. Turn out dough onto a floured surface and knead, dusting
surface and your hands with just enough flour to keep dough from
sticking, until dough is elastic and smooth, about 6 minutes.


Pat dough into a 9-inch
square and sprinkle with onions and walnuts. Fold dough over to enclose
filling and pinch edges to seal. Knead to distribute onion and nuts
throughout dough, dusting with just enough flour to keep dough from
sticking, about 2 minutes. (Dough will be lumpy; if any nuts or pieces
of onion pop out, just push them back in.)

Pour drained onions & toasted walnuts over flattened dough. 

Fold over and pinch ends together.

Put dough in an oiled large
bowl and turn to coat. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and a kitchen towel
and let dough rise in a draft-
free place at warm room temperature until doubled, 1 1/2 to 2 hours.

First Rise: I use my KA bowl because of the straight sides.

Punch down dough (do not
knead), then halve. Roll half of dough on a lightly floured surface
with lightly floured hands into a 12-inch-long log (keep remaining half
covered with plastic wrap). Cut log into 12 equal pieces and roll each
into a ball by cupping your hand and pushing dough against work surface
as you roll in a circular motion. Arrange rolls 2 inches apart on a
baking sheet. Cover rolls with a kitchen towel (not terry cloth). Make
more rolls with remaining dough, arranging and covering them on second
sheet. Let dough rise in a draft-free place at warm room temperature
until doubled, 1 to 1 1/2 hours.



Preheat oven to 375°F with racks in upper and lower thirds.

Brush rolls with egg wash and sprinkle with nigella seeds. Bake,
switching position of sheets halfway through, until golden brown, 20 to
25 minutes. Transfer rolls to a rack and cool at least 20 minutes.


Cooks' note:
Rolls are best the day they're made but can be frozen (cool completely, then wrap well) 1 month. Thaw, then reheat
on a baking sheet in a 350°F oven until warmed through, 5 to
10 minutes. 

My Usual Notes:

  • I loved this bread.  Wait.  Rolls.  I loved these rolls.  Actually, I made both because I couldn't resist seeing how a boule would turn out and am glad to say it was lovely — texture and all.  I could have toughened up the crust, though.  I need to practice leaving it in the oven longer to brown it up.
  • I'm really thinking that it was a big mistake to leave "onion" out of the descriptor for these.  What's up, Gourmet dudes?
  • Definitely a sweet, onion taste in this (see second bullet above…), and surprisingly, no taste of rye.  I was prepared for it because I'm not a lover of rye, but I was game. The walnuts provide a nice crunch here and there. Mmmm….walnuts.
  • The rolls are terrific heated with butter, drizzled with honey (really!) or enjoyed with a soft cheese like brie or hmmm…can't remember the name of that soft French cheese I smeared on it.  A smoked gouda is also very nice. 
  • Toast.  You have to make toast with this, so that means if you haven't made a loaf or a boule, then you must slice a roll in half and toast it.  Completely worth it.
  • I know those of you who are die hard yeast fans want more technical info, but I made this days ago and just cannot bring up the details.  I didn't use my Kitchen Aid.  The dough was a bit messy to work with after the addition of the onions and the walnuts.  Kneading it and just poking the morsels back into the dough didn't quite cut the mustard.  It wanted to ooze all over the place, but I handled it.
  • Exhibit A:
  • Onions and walnuts popping out everywhere!
  • I was lenient on the rising both times, but it's winter, and even though I don't have to tolerate temps like most people in the northern hemisphere, it's still fairly cool in my kitchen.  And no, I didn't use my proofing oven.  The sun does come in handy, though!
  • All in all, I liked this recipe.  It has lovely flavor and a very nice crunch now and again.
  • Oh jeez, I almost forgot!  I used black sesame seeds (instead of nigella) my dearest friend in the whole world brought from Japan for me.  It was a perfect excuse to use them and they were perfect for these rolls.