My bread recipes call for liquid that is around 40% to 50% of the amount of flour added (so a recipe that calls for 3 cups of flour, would call for 1.25 to 1.5 cups liquid). Remember that the maple syrup is a liquid, so be sure to count that when you figure out how much water to add. You might increase the water to anywhere from 2/3 cup to a little over 1 cup. Also, a lot of my bread recipes call for milk in place of a portion of the water, so you might try keeping the water at 1/4 cup and adding enough milk to equal 1.25 to 1.5 cups liquid. I would err on the conservative side, although if the dough ends up too sticky you can always just add some more flour.
A few other tips:
1. Always start the yeast before adding it to the dough. Place the hot water in a bowl with the yeast. The water should be hot to the touch, about the temperature that you would use to wash dishes by hand. Also add something for the yeast to eat; one of the tbsps of brown sugar should work well. Let it sit for five minutes or so. If it starts to froth, the yeast is good. If it doesn't froth, toss that batch out and start over with a new packet of yeast (see tip #2).
2. Always have a spare packet of yeast on hand. If you have it, you'll never need it. If you don't have it, I can guarantee you'll be making a run to the grocery store for more yeast before you finish your bread.
3. Kneading the dough with your bare hands is very important. The chemicals on your skin react with the yeast and help it to rise. Also, you cannot get all of the flour worked into the dough with a mixer. At most, you'll probably only be able to get 2 cups of the flour worked in with a mixer. That last cup will be worked in as you need the dough. You'll know when the dough is kneaded enough because you will have worked in all the flour and because it will be smooth and elastic in texture.
4. I wouldn't bake with sea salt. For one thing, it's a waste of expensive salt; save your sea salt for finishing, when you can really taste the difference between it and table salt. Also, sea salt can't be substituted on a 1 for 1 basis with table salt because it is a much courser grain, so you aren't getting as much salt. This means that your recipe will turn out bland because it doesn't have enough salt. Also, table salt performs better in baked goods than sea salt. Stick with table salt for baking.
5. If you have a gas oven with a continously lit pilot, in the oven (with the oven turned off) is the perfect place to let the bread rise. The pilot light provides just enough heat to make the oven the perfect temperature for the yeast. All my best loaves of bread rose in a gas oven. If you don't have a gas oven, then a sunny window is the second best place. The yeast needs to be warm enough for it to rise. Sometimes on warm days, I put my dough outside in the sun on my patio table. The heat rising from the cement is also good for helping the dough rise.
Substituting almonds for hazelnuts or leaving the nuts out altogether shouldn't make any difference. That's just a matter of preference.
My Before and After Pics
"Decide what you want; decide what you're willing to exchange for it; establish your priorities, and go to work." --H.L. Hunt
"Life has hills. Set the treadmill at an incline."