Maison Kayser's Recipe for Chestnut Bread for the Holidays
There’s nothing better than the smell of freshly baked bread to cozy up your home for the holidays. So what about the scent of hundreds of loaves fresh out of the oven? Delightful.
Such is the aroma at French bakery Maison Kayser in New York City, where master baker Yann Ledoux has brought a French holiday favorite to America: chestnut bread. The specialty bread is available only during the month of December, but with just a few ingredients and a bit of patience while the yeast works its magic, you can make the seasonal classic at home.
With over 500 baguettes being produced on weekend days and a regular rotation of more than 25 different breads, the bakery is always bustling. They go through over 600 pounds of flour every day, making breads of all kinds, from whole-wheat quinoa loaves to traditional boule rounds. The chestnut dough is prepared in a large stationary mixer, but Yann has scaled down the recipe and modified the directions for the home baker so that all you need is your hands or a stand mixer.
To make this gourmet bread at home you’ll need a few essential ingredients: wheat flour, corn flour, salt, fresh yeast, water, honey and chestnuts. Use chestnuts soaked in syrup to get great sweet flavor in your dough. Yann coats the chestnuts in corn flour before incorporating them into the batter so that they stay whole while mixing and don’t sink to the bottom of the bread.
Once you’ve combined your ingredients (except for the honey and chestnuts) either by hand or in a stand-mixer, you’ll knead the dough until it can be pulled without breaking. You should be able to create a thin skin with the dough where you can see through to your fingers.
Patience is key for this recipe, as the dough now needs to rest so the yeast can get to work getting the bread to rise. You probably don’t have a humidity-regulated kitchen, so keep the bread covered with a damp towel while it sits. Or use Yann’s at-home method and keep your dough in the bathroom, where the air tends to be more humid.
After the first round of rising, add in the honey and chestnuts. There are multiple rest periods for the chestnut bread: after marking the initial dough, after adding the chestnuts to the dough and once you divide the dough into individual loaves.
At-home ovens aren’t able to regulate humidity the way the many bakery ovens do so to get the same environment, Yann recommends adding a basin of water to release steam slowly over the cooking period. Once the dough cooks for 25 minutes, keep it in the oven for another 10 with the heat turned off so you ensure a great crusty edge to your loaf.
Get full step-by-step directions with our photo How-Tos.
Maison Kayser’s Chestnut Bread
Makes 1 loaf
6.3 ounces wheat flour
0.2 ounces corn flour, roasted
0.2 ounces salt
1 ounce fresh yeast
4 ounces water
0.5 ounces honey
1.2 ounces chestnuts in syrup
Mix all bread ingredients except chestnuts in a mixing bowl. Start mixing at slow speed for 4 minutes then high speed for 7 minutes. Add the chestnuts and continue mixing for 1 more minute at slow speed.
Let the dough rest for an hour and a half in the mixing bowl at room temperature. Remove the dough from the mixing bowl and pre-shape the dough round.
Cover dough and let rise for an additional hour. Shape the dough in a round ball shape and leave the dough, covered with a damp cloth, on a sheet pan at room temperature for an additional 2 hours. Uncover the dough.
Preheat your oven to 480 degrees F and bake on a pizza stone or sheet pan for 25 minutes. Turn the oven off and let the bread stand inside for 10 minutes. Take the bread out of the oven and enjoy.
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