Friday, March 9, 2012

Golden Raisin Bread

Whenever I browse the pages of a new bread book, I always get excited when I find that it contains a few raisin bread recipes in them.  I just love the flavor and sweetness that raisins give to any bread and I would gladly have it it as my only meal of the day -- it's especially nice with cheddar cheese or jam.  Jeffrey Hamelman's book Bread: A Baker's Book of Techniques and Recipes has (much to my delight) a number of bread offerings with raisins in them like a golden raisin and walnut bread that makes use of a yeasted pre-ferment (sponge), a sourdough rye bread with raisins and walnuts, a straight dough version that has golden raisins and pecans, and also this levain version that I made which makes use of a liquid white starter and has quick-cooking oats and lots of golden raisins in it!  I do plan to make all of these raisin bread versions soon but I settled for this recipe as I wanted to make use of my newly cultivated white starter.  I also have never tasted a sourdough raisin bread before so I was really excited and very curious to try this out.

This was a lot simpler to make compared to the Vermont Sourdough as I decided to use the optional instant yeast which cut the bulk fermentation to 1 hour instead of 2 making it unnecessary to do folds in between.  This recipe also doesn't require a long final fermentation unlike the VS which has overnight retarding of up to 18 hours in the fridge.  For about an hour, I already had a perfectly proofed bread ready for scoring and baking.  I used my Lodge 5-Quart Double Dutch Oven for this again but instead of putting the bread inside the bigger casserole, I placed it on top of the shallower skillet which I suppose would contribute to a much even browning once the lid is removed because more of the bread's surface gets exposed.  To prevent an overly dark crust at the bottom which cast iron skillets are known to do, I placed the removable bottom of a tart pan plus a sheet of parchment under the bread.  

Once again, I need to practice my scoring -- I could've made it deeper and longer.

I just love using my DO -- completely avoids having to set up my oven for heath baking

I've read some recipes that suggest putting the DO on top of a baking stone but I think that it's really unnecessary to do this.

10 minutes before end of baking I removed the lid and was surprised to see such a beautiful color in the crust!

This 10-inch skillet was just the right base for this 1.5 lb loaf
Once I added the raisins I proceeded to knead the dough by hand as I didn't want the dough to overheat in the stand mixer.  Somehow I also got a better idea of how the raisins were dispersed when I hand-kneaded the dough.

For those who want to try this recipe but only want to make one loaf instead of two (like what I did), I've written the scaled down version below.  For the procedure, please check out this blog.

Golden Raisin Bread
Adapted from Bread: A Baker's Book of Techniques and Recipes by Jeffrey Hamelman

Liquid Levain Build

Bread Flour     68 grams

Water     85 grams

Mature Culture (liquid)     14 grams

TOTAL:     167g

Final Dough

Bread Flour     296 grams

Whole-Wheat Flour     181 grams

Water   228 grams

Salt     17 grams

Yeast     1.5 grams (1/2 teaspoon)

Oats, rolled     46 grams

Golden Raisins     113 grams

Liquid levain     153 grams

TOTAL:     765 grams (about 1.5 lbs)

Crumb shot

VERDICT: For a bread that doesn't have added sugar in it, this was surprisingly sweet.  The oats also lent really good flavor and sweetness to this bread as well which even gets further enhanced when you toast it.  Somehow,  the flavor of the oats only seems to reveal itself when the bread is warm.  In terms of the texture of this bread, it is definitely denser than the commercial loaf version but it is still incredibly moist.  I also love how chewy it is as well as the crust.  I tasted no hint of sourness in this bread probably because of the instant yeast added which could be a plus for anyone who dislike a sour bread. I will definitely make this again but next time, I'm only using my white starter and will forgo the instant yeast completely.

*This bread has been YeastSpotted*