Tuesday, June 23, 2009

raisin' bread

This is my own recipe, adapted from a basic white bread recipe and some practice runs. But I have it down and, by god, it’s delicious. The whole process takes about 3-4 hours of time. But you’re only doing stuff for about 20 minutes, the rest is just waiting around. So it’s a great Saturday or Sunday errand-time thing to do. I decided to bake all my bread for the week on Sunday evenings. It’s a nice way to end the week.

White unbleached Flour
Butter (or margarine, or whatever)
2 eggs
Warm water
Light vegetable oil
Yeast packet

Step One: Yeast Party

Yeast comes in little packages for around 50 cents at the grocery store. If you’re new to baking bread (which I was) buying yeast is kinda novel. When you make bread you need to put two cups of warm water in a big bowl. The water has to be bath water warm, not scalding hot. When you accomplished this, dump in the yeast packet. Stir it up till it dissolves and then let the yeast set in there until it bubbles (about 5-15 minutes), which means it’s ready.

Step Two: Dough Party

Now that you have a pool of live cultures, add a teaspoon of salt and 2 big old tablespoons of honey and mix it up. Then add 2 cups of flour and your eggs and really beat it together into a sticky batter. It takes about 200 strokes or 2 minutes with a real blender. When that’s all mixed up add a 1/2 cup of sugar, 1/4 cup of cinnamon (I like cinnamon, you can use less) and 3/4 cup of raisins. Spend some time on this and use your shoulders. Then add 3 more cups of flour one cup at a time. Mixing and mixing and making the dough more and more soft and not sticky.

Now take a half cup of flour or so and cover a clean table top or kitchen space with a fine layer of the flour. Dump your dough onto it and really knead it. Punch it with your hands, throw it in the air and catch it. Toss it on the table and then slap it. Press into it while you talk to your dogs about why Prince didn’t get electrocuted at the super bowl, whatever. Then when it’s all perky and in a nice weighty ball. Set it aside on your flour strewn table space.

Take either the first bowl you were using, or a brand new one and clean it out. (Wash and Dry it it if it’s the same bowl). Line the inside of the big bowl with butter or cooking spray and place your dough in there to rise. Make sure it can get twice it’s size. Cover it with a cloth and go do something else for an hour and a half.

Step Three: Dough After Party

Now this is my favorite part. You take the cloth off your bowl and see this giant glob of junk. You need to really punch it down and pop out all the air. I’m serious, just back up on that guy. Take out the dough and put it back on your table area. Hand knead it again and press out all the air pockets. Now you have this weird animal to work with. You need to cut the dough in half with a sharp knife. And these guys will be your two loaves.

Now here is where you can get creative. I like to take my one loaf and put it in a bread pan so it rises in that classic bread shape and it’s easy to slice for sandwiches and toast. But I like to take my other half and cut it into thirds. Then like play dough snakes I roll those buddies into long tubes and braid them together. I tuck the ends under and kinda twist them so they don’t unravel while baking. This really looks pretty.

Then you place your panned or braided dough on the counter, make sure you’re dogs can’t snatch them, and go do something else for an hour and a half. Weed that garden.

Step Four: Glazing and Baking

Preheat the over at 375 and then get some butter, sugar and cinnamon and melt and mix them together into a glass. Brush or hand wipe (that sounds dirty?) your glaze onto the second-risen bread dough. Filling in all the nooks and crannies with diabetes-inducing goodness.

Bake for 20-30 minutes, or until tops are slightly browned and hardened and a sharp knife comes out of the dough clean without any residual on it. Then, chompsville.


Blogger Carrie said...

I'm gonna try the dough braid, sounds yummy!

June 23, 2009 at 6:59 AM  
Blogger Little Ant said...

We bake our own wheat bread and white bread but I've not tried a raisin bread before so thanks for the recipe. It sounds delicious!

June 23, 2009 at 7:32 AM  
Blogger Tara said...

Mmmm...I love raisin bread! Thanks for sharing!

June 23, 2009 at 7:32 AM  
Blogger Deb said...

Yum! Sounds easy enough (um..maybe)....I'll have to give it a try.

June 23, 2009 at 7:34 AM  
Anonymous Cathy said...

I love raisin bread. I'll have to try this one this weekend.

June 23, 2009 at 8:48 AM  
Blogger Mare said...

Thanks for the recipe. I've been baking all of my own bread since January and haven't looked back! I am looking forward to trying your recipe!

June 23, 2009 at 9:32 AM  
Blogger Heather said...

Mmm, sounds delish, we will definitely try this!

June 23, 2009 at 10:00 AM  
Blogger Robin said...

Love raisin bread, thanks for the recipe! I have to say that I never had good luck with yeast packets; darn stuff just wouldn't proof. So following my mom's advice, I bought some bulk yeast and keep it in the freezer until I'm ready to use it. I take out what I need for the recipe & let it warm up a few minutes before using it, though. Works like a charm, no more dud yeast.

June 23, 2009 at 10:59 AM  
Blogger Girl Child said...

no pics of that yummy bread?? the braid one sounds really tempting.. though, truth be told, ill prolly just drive my tushy to cinnabons and devour a 1000 calorie pile of goo.. cause thats how i roll. haha.. get it?? "roll"?? !! LOL I crack me up!

June 23, 2009 at 12:25 PM  
Blogger Moonbow said...

This sounds good, I will have to give it a try. I made a braided Honey Challah and Cinnamon swirl bread this weekend. There is nothing like the smell fresh baked bread. Of course trying to bake while it is 90 plus outside makes it a challange to keep the house from getting to hot but it is always worth it.

June 23, 2009 at 12:29 PM  
Blogger Jeremy said...

Have you ever tried using whole wheat flour or another type of flour (buckwheat, quinoa, rice, etc)? I'd rather stay away from the white stuff if possible.

June 23, 2009 at 1:47 PM  
Blogger Kimberly Ann said...

I've got some buckwheat honey wheat bread going right now. It's a little warm for baking but that's ok. Love the smell. I really hope I can build my outdoor adobe oven this year.

June 23, 2009 at 1:50 PM  
Blogger Leiflet said...

Chompsville. Oh yes indeed.

June 23, 2009 at 2:37 PM  
Anonymous dogear6 said...

It's not just the dogs you have to watch out for. Curious cats have been known to poke the dough and leave a dent.

June 23, 2009 at 5:15 PM  
Blogger djp said...

sounds yummy!

June 23, 2009 at 7:34 PM  
Blogger Sarah said...

You should write a cookbook using this type of language - really informal and personal. It would be so entertaining to read! I was thinking you were going to recite a regular cinnamon raisin bread recipe, but this one's all muddled together. I like it! I am out of bread, so this has got to be my next batch. Thanks!

June 24, 2009 at 2:07 PM  
Blogger Michele said...

I SOooo agree with Sarah's comment!
I'll have to try your bread when life slows down a little.
Sounds yummy!

June 24, 2009 at 7:51 PM  
Blogger Amigo van Helical said...

Well, I do believe I'm going to have to try this. You almost make it sound fun.

June 25, 2009 at 11:15 PM  
Blogger Lisa said...

I love baking bread too. It really makes me feel connected to everything going on around me.

June 26, 2009 at 1:57 PM  
Blogger Laurie said...

I made the bread into rolls and one small loaf for the toaster. I added chopped walnuts sprinkled on the top and some drizzled icing. I will definitly keep this recipe for a long, long time. Thanks so much. I sure love your blog. I will post pictures on my blog http://holyspirit-mymuse.blogspot.com thanks again!

June 26, 2009 at 6:17 PM  
Anonymous René said...

Yeast is one of the most expensive ingredients in bread (for .50 you could get a pound of flour or 2.25 tsp of yeast in a packet) but if you buy from a bulk store (Costco, Sams' club etc,) it's just pennies of the cost of the packets. If you want to make sure it's still good, add it to the water for the recipe at room temperature and let it set for 10 minutes or so. If it gets frothy it's still alive.

As for the question about whether you can use other types of flour, whole wheat flour doesn't contain enough gluten for the yeast to eat so the bread won't rise proprely if you use 100% whole wheat. You can substitute up to 1/3rd of the flour with whole wheat without problems. After that you might be able to help the process by adding vital wheat gluten. You can also just wait for it to rise on its own but this has a big potential for bad things to grow in it as well and make the dough taste bad. It's always worth experimenting, though, so give it a try.

July 2, 2009 at 12:18 PM  
Blogger Darx said...

Jenna, you are a gem. I'm finally catching up on your old blog entries, and they really are worth saving to read later. I particularly love this one. Thanks.

July 9, 2009 at 3:31 PM  

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