I am back with a recipe and another giveaway to celebrate three years of blogging! While I originally said I’d be doing a week of giveaways, I decided to spread them out over the month of May…because a month of celebrating is much more fun, don’t you think?

Have I ever told you about my long and somewhat complicated relationship with bread? I’m pretty sure you’d start snoozing if I shared all the sordid details so here are the highlights:

When I was in high school, I was obsessed with bread. I loved it more than any other food and couldn’t go a day without it. Bagels were particularly adored…I spent countless hours walking the streets of NYC in search of the perfect bagel.

I set out on a quest to learn how to make all kinds of homemade bread. I bought books. I took classes. I baked- and ate- a lot of bread over the next few years.

But then- gasp!- I was diagnosed with multiple food sensitivities, and wheat and yeast were at the top of the list. A direct result of overconsumption of said obsession? Probably. In any case, I had to give up my beloved bread, at least for a while.

I went for a year or so without a single bagel, slice of pizza, or any other type of yeasty deliciousness. And then when the food sensitivities were cleared up and I was finally able to eat bread again, I made the decision to only do so on a very limited basis, because I decided I felt better when I only ate small amounts of gluten and starchy carbohydrates.

I haven’t baked bread on a regular basis in ages, but bread and I are now slowly getting to know each other again. I am finding that bread and I get along just fine as long as I don’t go overboard, so I am re-learning how to make it. Earlier this week, I baked up this Walnut Bread.

The bread, which I adapted just a bit from the King Arthur Flour website, is simple to prepare, and I love the tip about taking the internal temperature to ensure that it’s done. When you do this, you guarantee that the center of your loaf isn’t still basically raw…this has happened to me a few times when I’ve baked homemade bread, and is a real disappointment.

I love the flavors of the honey and the toasted walnuts in this bread, and in my opinion, it has a wonderful texture. It slices beautifully, which makes it perfect for sandwiches; for breakfast, I’ve been toasting thin slices and piling on some cottage cheese…delicious!

Toasted Walnut Bread

Yield: 2 loaves

Ingredients:

*1 1/2 cups warm water
*1 tablespoon active dry yeast
*1/2 cup honey (I used a local dark wildflower honey)
*1/4 cup walnut or olive oil (I used roasted walnut oil)
*1 1/2 teaspoons salt (I used fine sea salt)
*6 cups (approx.) King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour (I used 3 cups of King Arthur White Whole Wheat Flour plus 2 1/2 cups King Arthur Bread Flour instead)
*8 oz. walnut pieces, toasted over medium-high heat in a skillet until lightly browned (watch that they don't burn

Directions:

1. Dissolve the yeast in the water. Add 1/2 cup of all-purpose flour (or white whole wheat flour) and let sit for 10 minutes to give the yeast a chance to "get going" (I added a teaspoon of honey to this, as well). Stir in (the rest of) the honey, the oil, and the salt. Add the flour, a cup at a time, until the dough has formed a shaggy mass (I mixed everything up in my Kitchen Aid stand mixer, with the dough hook attachment).

2. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured counter. Knead the dough, adding flour as necessary, to form a smooth and satiny ball. Put the dough into a bowl and drizzle with an additional tablespoon of oil; turn the dough to coat it with the oil. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap or a damp towel and let the dough rise until it has doubled in bulk; this will take about 1 1/2 hours.

3. Gently deflate the dough and knead in the walnuts. Divide the dough in half and form each half into a ball. Place on a cookie sheet that has been oiled and sprinkled with cornmeal or semolina flour. Cover the loaves with damp towels and let rise until swollen. This will take 30-45 minutes.

4. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Be sure that the oven temperature is correct; the loaves will burn if the oven is too hot. Sprinkle flour on top of the loaves, and use a serrated knife to slash a cross in the top of each loaf about 1" deep.

5. Bake the loaves for 35-45 minutes, until they are well browned and sound hollow when thumped on the bottom; their internal temperature will measure 190°F on an instant-read thermometer. Put the loaves on a rack to cool, and let sit for at least 20 minutes before cutting.

Adapted slightly (with permission) from King Arthur Flour

I’ve been a big fan of King Arthur Flour for ages and when I asked the folks over there if they’d like to sponsor a giveaway in honor of my blog’s birthday, they generously agreed. They put together the following fantastic package that’s going to make one of you very happy:

Five Pound Bag of King Arthur Premium 100% Whole Wheat Flour
Five Pound Bag of King Arthur White Whole Wheat Flour
One Pound of King Arthur Flour Whole Flax Seed
One 8 1/2 x 4 1/2 Loaf Pan
The King Arthur Flour Whole Grain Baking Cookbook

Official Rules: No purchase necessary. Open to US residents over 18 years of age only. This giveaway will end on Monday May 21st 2012 at 11:59 pm EST. One winner with a valid entry will be selected at random using random.org. Winner will be notified by email and will have 48 hours to claim their prize or another winner will be selected.

To enter, please leave a comment below (this is your mandatory first entry).

For additional entries (please leave additional comments for each)

- Follow King Arthur Flour on Twitter
- Like King Arthur Flour on Facebook

Thank you and good luck!