My tattered and torn book “Baking Bread, Old and New Tradition” by Beth Hensperger has a great section called American Country Breads, rustic breads such as Farmhouse White Bread with Cardamom, Squaw Bread, Dakota Bread with Ancient Grains, evocative words which conjure up a cozy, homelike atmosphere. The California Walnut roll seemed a perfect picnic bread or a good roll to serve with soup, but what caught my eye was the chunky walnut spread and fresh pears recommended as an accompaniment to the rolls. This recipe is my entry into the Weekend Herb Blogging hosted by Rinku of Cooking In Westchester.California walnuts account for 99% of the commercial US supply and two-thirds of the world supply. The walnut is the only member of the nut family that has a significant amount of the heart-healthy Omega-3’s. Considered a superfood, walnuts are high in antioxidants, elements which help offset the effects pollution, over-exposure to sunlight, etc have on our bodies. In other words, walnuts are just plain good for you!California Walnut BreadSponge2 tablespoons active dry yeast1/4 cup warm water (105-115 degrees F)2 cups unbleached bread flour-I use King Arthur Artisan Flour3 tablespoons honey2 cups milk, room temperatureDough1 1/2 cups walnuts1/2 cup walnut oil1 tablespoon saltAbout 3 cups unbleached bread flourSpongeFor the sponge: In a large bowl, whisk together the yeast, water, 2 cups flour, honey and milk. Beat until creamy. Cover with plastic wrap and let rest at room temperature until bubbly, about an hour. Chop walnuts and lightly toast in a preheated 350 degree oven. Check after 5 minutes to ensure that you don’t burn the nuts. Let cool and set aside.For the dough: add the oil, salt, and 1 cup of flour to the sponge. Stir with a wooden spoon to combine. Add walnuts and remaining flour 1/2 cup at a time until a shaggy dough is formed and clears the side of the bowl, but remains somewhat soft. A heavy-duty electric mixer will make this job easier.Turn dough out on a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth, about 3 minutes, adding small amounts of flour as needed to keep the dough from sticking. The dough should hold its shape, but should still be moist and soft. Too much flour can make the finished bread dry. Place in a greased bowl, cover with plastic wrap and let rise until doubled, about 1 1/2 -2 hoursFor the rolls:When dough has risen, divide into 4 equal pieces. Divide each portion into 5portions and roll each into a ball. Place the balls one inch apart on a parchment lined baking pan. Press each to flatten. Using a clean pair of kitchen shears dipped in flour,make four cuts around the roll, evenly spaced taking care to leave the center free. Cover loosely and let rise until almost doubled, about 30 minutes. Snip again with the shears make an X. Bake for 15-18 minutes. Serve warm with fresh pears and walnut dried cranberry spread.Walnut Dried Cranberry Spread1/4 cup toasted walnuts4 ounces cream cheese, room temperature2 tablespoons dried cranberries1 tablespoon raspberry liqueurCombine dried cranberries and raspberry liqueur, let stand a few minutes until cranberries plump up some. In a small bowl, mash the cream cheese, add dried cranberries and liqueur, mix together. Add walnuts and combine. Let stand overnight covered in a refrigerator for flavors to meld. Makes about a half cup.