Experiments in bread. Ginger, Hazlenut and Vanilla Savoury

Bread, glorious bread! I have a fine breadmaker, and I like to put different things into it to see what it will taste like. It turns out, quite a lot of it tastes excellent, and my overnight concoction was no exception.

I have seen recipes for ginger and hazlenut sweet breads, but in general I don’t add sugar to my loaves – so I can eat more without getting diabetes! As for vanilla, I have some essence that is nearly out of date, so thought it might be a nice addition. 

1 tsp of yeast

500gms brown flour

80gms hazlenuts, crushed / chopped (I used a blender)

70gms fresh ginger root, grated

3 tsp vanilla essence

1 tsp salt

10-20gms extra virgen olive oil (I never measure it, just tip it in. Roughly the same amount as a nob of butter, which is so not helpful as a measurement. How about the end of your thumb’s worth? Ah, just tip it in and experiment, the bread seems to be fine with it!)

400gms water (I’ve started putting in more water than the recipes have suggested and it makes great bread)

Set breadmaker to wholewheat, large (I’ve a Panasonic 252, but they all seem to work in a similar way)


On the look out for

The main things I was worried about is one, whether the ginger might inhibit the rising action of the yeast, and two if I was putting in too much – the amount I put in would be a lot in a normal cooked dish. However, the bread rose nicely; it is quite compact, but still light enough. And the quantity was also fine.


It was plenty moist, and altough quite compact, surprisingly light. The nuts gave a bit more resistence to the teeth than plain flour, but a crunch in a softer way, unlike with whole grains. The bread holds together well – better than if you add nuts by themselves, so I am assuming that there was quite a lot of fibre in the ginger root that has helped this. For an idea of how well it holds together, I was happily cutting slices that were maybe only 7mm wide. As for the ginger, you can’t detect the texture at all. 

So, for texture, I would say it is good, but being as compact as it is, it’s quite filling, thin slices are best.


Ah, the all important! When I came downstairs this morning, the kitchen was filled with the smells, the ginger was really powerful, and in fact, it smelt worryingly strong. I needn’t have worried.

The first thing about this is that you can really taste the hazlenuts. Normally, when adding hazlenuts to bread, I have found that you lose the flavour entirely, but in this case, it comes though very nicely. 

Secondly, if you smell the bread, it has a lovely, strong and very pleasant smell of ginger. However, and despite the quantity I put in, the flavour is really quite subtle. You can definitely taste it, but will hardly notice it if you are not looking for it. You can smell it in your nose as you eat it but flavourwise, it more manifests itself in only a very slight ginger bite on the tongue, really delicious. 

The vanilla on the other hand, I can really almost not taste, the hint is so low as to be almost nonexistent. However, that does not negate adding it, as I feel that the vanilla maybe smoothing the sharper gradients of the ginger.

All in all, a good experiment. Now, what to eat this bread with? I think this would be delicious with something not too strong, you want the nut flavours to come though. So, maybe pate, or sliced pork would be good. Funnily enough, I can imagine this being very tasty with a bed of rocket leaves and olive oil on top of it; a sandwich where the filling is in the bread itself.


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