Sunday, October 24, 2010

Raisin Rye Round Bread

I love plump little raisins in my baking, so I love this recipe.  The bread is earthy, warm and inviting.  Making fresh bread has some magical ability to inspire piles of self confidence, because bread baking is such a hallmark of cooking talent. And even though this recipe is so quick and so easy, the feeling lasts just the same.  My friend Alix first introduced this recipe to me when she found it in a magazine when we were seniors at UCLA.  This was a time full of late night cooking sprees after coming home from late nights out in the Westwood “scene”.  Freshman year was about take out cheese-fries, but by the time graduation rolled around we were stumbling back at 2am to Alix’s off-campus apartment to bake raisin and Irish soda breads.  I hope the maturity of this progression is applauded.  Which proves (many things) but most relevant here, that the recipe is quite simple and produces outstanding results (comparable to 2am cheese-fries).

Raisin Rye Round Bread - Recipe

1 1/2 cups  of unbleached flour
1/2 cups of whole wheat flour
1 1/2 cups - rye flour
1 1/4 tsp. - salt
1 tsp. - active dry yeast
1 1/2 cups - cool water
1 cup - raisins
1 tbsp. - sugar


Sift together all of the flours, salt and yeast.  Then slowly pour in the cool water and knead the mixture with your fingers for about five minutes.  Once the dough has taken shape add the raisins in, if you're having trouble with this try coating the raisins in some extra flour to help them really mix in.  The dough should be well combined and when it is, use some extra flour to form it into a ball.

Pour a little flour into the bottom of the bowl and place the dough back inside to rise.  Cover it in plastic and store in a warm place for about an hour and a half, the ball should almost double in size.

Remove the risen dough from its bowl and place onto a greased baking sheet.  Sprinkle the top of the dough with the sugar to give the crust an extra touch of sweetness to compliment the raisins.  Pop it into the oven and bake @ 450 degrees F for 30 minutes until golden brown.  Enjoy! No need to let this gorgeous little bun cool for too long, it's best warm and fresh from the oven!

Things to Note:

-Feel free to substitute any dried fruit you like for raisins.

-Don't soak the dried fruit in rum or there will be a rather unpleasant aftertaste to the dough.  Yes I know this because initially due to an alluring love for alliteration I wanted to make Rum Raisin Rye Round Bread.

-The raisins can be difficult to combine into the dough but just give them some time to get acquainted with their new surroundings, and as mentioned in the recipe, coat them in some extra flour first.

-Dough rising is a delicate art dependant on temperature, climate, altitude and whole host of environmental effects outside your control.  So touch the bowl and if it feels chilly wrap a large towel around it and try to find a warm spot in your home to let it rest, I recommend a sunny windowsill or the kitchen near your preheating oven.

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