To: Ken Forkish, Ken's Artisan Bakery
A little less than year ago I moved from Portland to San Francisco,
and I've been in a state of gastronomical longing ever since. From
Stumptown to Le Pigeon, I can't help but wax poetic about the places I
miss. And one of those places is your bakery. I lived on 21st and Hoyt
for two years and probably came in nearly every day. And
most of those days, I got a walnut roll with butter and jam. I'm not
one for eating the same thing over and over again, but there was
something so simply satisfying, indulgent and reassuring about that
combination of flavors and textures. It didn't seem right unless I had
But I moved and I moved on. It's been eggs and sourdough toast for a
while. Until last weekend, when faced with a glut of walnuts, I
decided to make some bread. It wasn't until after I'd tasted the brown
soda bread I made that I realized I'd made the wrong thing. It wasn't
sweet I wanted, it was savory. It was simple. It was a walnut roll
from Ken's. That's what I'm craving and what I can't get out of my
So, I'm wondering if you can help me out. I wonder if you'd be so kind
as to pass on your recipe to me for your walnut bread. I know my
replication won't be perfect, but I'd really appreciate some pointers
to head down the right path.
11.13. To Me, from Ken.
HI Margo. Let's see if we can satisfy that longing of yours. You will
need to buy a scale that measures metric weights. You can get a
decent one for $50 or so at a kitchenware shop. I found this online
Other items you will need on hand:
plastic tub to hold the dough in the fridge over night and to allow
expansion 2 to 3 times the original volume of the mixed dough.
matt cloth or wicker baskets for proofing the loaves.
Here's a formula for you to try:
1 kilo flour (700 grams white flour, 300 grams whole wheat flour)
775 grams water, 85 - 90 degrees F
6 grams dry yeast
22 grams fine sea salt
125 grams walnut pieces
mix flour and water by hand and let rest for 30 minutes.
mix yeast in a very small amount of water, just enough to dissolve,
then add with the saltt to the flour mixture.
Mix in a stand mixer, like a KitchenAide with hook attachment for 5
minutes on low speed. Rest for 10 minutes and mix again for another 5
minutes on low speed. Alternatively, if you don't have a mixer, mix
by hand (First to incorporate the ingredients, and then the turn the
dough into a homogenized mass - figure about 10 or 15 minutes). You
can mix the dough on your kitchen countertop. THen fold in the
walnuts until they are more or less fully integrated into the dough.
lightly oil your dough tub, place the dough into the tub, and put the
tub in the fridge for 12 - 18 hours. Optionally, punch and fold the
dough one or two times during this fermentation.
Remove the dough from the fridge, and cut in to 3 pieces. Form each
into a ball, stretching and folding the dough into itself several
times to build up strength. Let rest for 20 - 30 minutes.
Shape the dough balls into a shape that will fit whatever basket you
choose, or roll into a cylindrical log shape if you want walnut
rolls. Flour the baskets, or cloth, whatever you are going to place
the loaves into to proof.
Figure 3 hours proofing time, until the loaves are gassy without
collapsing on themselves.
Bake in oven btwn 400 and 425 degrees until done. Don't worry about
the steam. It's hard to do steam in a home oven.
I can't teach you how to bake in an email. Hopefully this outline
will mate with some past bread baking experience on your part to meet
with some success.