walnut raisin bread

by Heguiberto on April 19, 2010

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walnut raisin bread

This recipe is in latest issue of bon appétit, in the reader’s favorite restaurant recipes section. I love making recipes from magazines. I think that it’s a real test of the magazine’s quality if it turns out well in my kitchen. I’ve dropped several food magazines (that shall remain nameless) after trying a few of the recipes and having them not turn out right. I know, I know, it’s easy to point a finger at the home cook and blame the problem on “operator error.” But I don’t think so. Aren’t these food ‘zines written for people just like me? Shouldn’t the recipes be designed for “normal” cooks? That’s our approach here at weirdcombinations: exciting food for regular people. Plus, not to be too grandiose, but I’m a good cook, period. So excuse me!

Well, despite all of that hoo-haw, I find baking a bit challenging. There’s all that kneading and raising and the exact oven temperature and, of course, you can’t boil the yeast as it will never grow. Ugh! So complicated! I’m a bit freestyle in the kitchen and this whole “scientific” approach to cooking is a real downer. But one reaps what one sows, so most times that I adventure into the realm of bread baking, the results aren’t that great. But I want to be good. I want to change. I know that I can!

This bread has been my first attempt at the new ME. Of course, I’m still the old me, too, so I made a little change, but a minor one. I left out the pecans because I don’t care for them. Sorry, Georgia. Everything else is THE SAME. I even used a thermometer to make sure the water temperature was ideal for the yeast to develop! Can you even imagine?

I liked the end result. But what I liked most was the wonderful lingering yeasty sweet aroma of bread permeating the house for the few hours after I finally took the thing out of the oven. It brought me back delightful childhood memories of my mom baking her signature bread, ‘rosca de trança,’ that looked a bit like a brioche, though is sweeter and less airy. I’ve tried to make it many times all to no avail. Perhaps, in light of this successful walnut raisin bread, I should try again?

Walnut Raisin Bread

2 cups warm water (~110F)
3 quarter oz. envelopes of dry active yeast
¼ cup canola oil
2½ tbsp sugar
1 tbsp Kosher salt
5½ cups flour (plus more kneading)
2 cup raisins
1 cup walnuts
¼ cup brown sugar

Mix 2 cups water and yeast together in a large bowl and stir. Let it stand for approximately 10 minutes so yeast will dissolve. Stir in oil, sugar and salt. Add 5½ cups of flour and mix until roughly blended with fluid ingredients. Flour your work surface, such as your counter top. Knead dough until it becomes smooth, about 8 min. Add more flour if the dough is too sticky. Add raisins, walnuts and brown sugar. Knead further until incorporated. Transfer dough to a lightly greased bowl. Cover with cling film and refrigerate overnight.

The following day, line two baking trays with wax paper.

Split dough into two even pieces, and form each into 6-inch round. Make sure raisins are submerged in the dough, otherwise they will burn and impart a bitter flavor to the bread. Place rounds on trays lined with wax paper. Cover with a towel. Let rise in a warm and draft free place about 2 hours or until size has doubled.

Pre heat oven to 350F. Bake bread for about 50 minutes. To check for doneness tap bottom of bread and listen for a hollow sound. Remove from oven. The magazine encourages you to wait for it to cool before slicing. Whatever. We sliced into one loaf immediately and savored it with fresh salty, oozy, melting butter. Delicious!

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