Monday, June 8, 2020

Buckwheat Bread with Toasted Walnuts (Ajdov Kruh)

About a month into confinement, I had the urge to take on a new Slovenian baking project. It had to be traditional--and it had to use ingredients that were close at hand.

What better choice than buckwheat bread? Ajdov kruh, in Slovene.

My only experience with using buckwheat in a yeast bread was when I baked pisani kruh, a tasty spiral of buckwheat, white and corn dough that is supposed to suggest potica.

But I had never tried to duplicate the dense round buckwheat loaves we had enjoyed on our last two trips to Slovenia. My husband and I enjoyed it as a breakfast bread, spread with jam or honey. The assertive flavor of buckwheat also paired well with cheese or sausage. And the bread remained moist for a long time.

We still had plenty of buckwheat flour, and I had finally re-stocked the white flour and yeast. We even had a few potatoes and some walnuts--optional ingredients, although many Slovenian recipes included them.

I wondered whether my vintage Slovenian American cookbooks included buckwheat bread. I found a promising recipe in Woman's Glory, although I had to make a few adjustments: A half recipe, since there were just two of us at home and no entertaining on the horizon. Instant dry yeast instead of the old-fashioned cake yeast. And I wanted to add some toasted walnuts, even though this American recipe didn't call for them.

Woman's Glory turned out to be more of a guide than a precise formula. How big is a large potato? How liquidy are "loose" mashed potatoes supposed to be? I kept having to add extra liquid--and then more flour.

But it all worked out in the end.

The bread was just as we remembered it, with a rustic look and an earthy taste. Next time I might add even more walnuts.

Happy Trubar Day!

Buckwheat Bread (Ajdov Kruh)

1-1/2 cups buckwheat flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 large potato, boiled and mashed
 reserved potato water

2-1/2 teaspoons yeast
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1-1/2 cups white flour (I substituted a little whole wheat flour)
dash of salt
3/4 cup reserved potato water and/or milk
1 egg

walnuts, toasted and chopped

Combine buckwheat flour and salt in a medium bowl and set aside. Boil cut-up potato in salted water until soft. Drain the cooking liquid and set aside. Mash the potato, adding enough reserved liquid to make about 3/4 cup of "loose" mashed potatoes. Pour the warm potato mixture over buckwheat flour  and mix to make a soft dough, adding more reserved liquid as needed. Let stand for an hour.

Combine white flour, sugar, yeast and salt in a large bowl. Warm reserved potato water (or milk) and mix in egg. Add buckwheat dough and as much egg-liquid mixture as needed to the white flour to make a soft dough. Knead well--and don't be surprised if you need to add more white flour.

Form dough into ball and place in floured bowl. Cover and let rise for 1-1/2 hours. Punch down, divide into one or two portions. Knead in walnuts and form into rounds. Cut cross on top. Cover and let rise for about 45 minutes. Bake at 375 degrees for 50-60 minutes.