Quick on the heals of (1) my latest Reinhart loaf disaster, a cinnamon raisin loaf, and (2) my perceived success despite my failure to follow all the instructions to the letter for the Laurel's Kitchen Bread Book's 'Learning Loaf', I was thumbing through the Laurel's Kitchen Bread Book (LKBB) to see what other kinds of loaves they had. Lo and behold, the very next bread was a "Basic Whole Wheat Bread", and one of the options was a raisin bread. It was touted as a "quickie version" of a raisin bread -- better recipes were offered elsewhere in the book, they said -- but that by the simple addition of some raisins, some walnuts, and some cinnamon, you could turn this basic bread into a raisin bread. "This makes a pedestrian but quite acceptable raisin loaf," the book told me. That doesn't quite sell it, but its honesty is refreshing.
But two other things caught my eye about this recipe: (1) the dough makes two loaves. That meant, to me, that I could make one of the loaves basic and the other could be a cinnamon raisin loaf, and (2) the other thing that I noticed, and something that especially resonated with me after the awful sugary taste of the Reinhart cinnamon raisin recipe, was, you were to resist the temptation to add any extra butter or sugar when adding the raisins and cinnamon, and the amounts of raisins and walnuts seemed fairly reasonable to me.
So after supper I set out to trial the LKBB's Basic Whole Wheat Bread recipe, with one of the loaves being a cinnamon raisin bread.
Here are the weights that I used (LKBB uses mls for the liquid weights, which makes it difficult to calculate hydration rates.) Your mileage may vary:
- Yeast 7g (+)
- Water 110g
- WWFlour 900g
- Salt 14g
- Water 557g
- Honey 38g
- Olive Oil 23g
- Raisins 68g
- Walnuts 30g
- Cinnamon Some
Total hydration is 667g (or 690g if you count the oil; or 728g if you also count the honey), meaning the dough's percentage of hydration is (pick one):
This is a traditionally made bread, where one proofs the yeast and then mixes the dough and kneads it for a length of time or certain number of strokes, let it rise, deflate it, divide it, round it, form it, rest it, shape it, bake it.
There was one glitch, and that was I heated the water for the yeast too much, and the yeast did not get foamy after 10 or 15 minutes. So I just added a small handful more of yeast to the now-cooler water, assuming I had killed the yeast in water that was too hot (I should have measured the temperature, it felt too hot to touch). Once the yeast was frothy, I continued with the recipe and it performed well.
The 600 times of kneading was only difficult because the dough got sticky at times, and was fairly sloppy. I think that I could have cut back a little bit on the hydration. I kept wetting my hands to make the dough less sticky, too, and some of that water on my hands might have been incorporated into the dough.
The dough bulk fermented quickly in my 80 degree Excaliur, and was ready in 1 hour.
I waited 1 1/2 hours though, and that was a bit too long. The dough was starting to stick to the cover.
The dough is then deflated, divided, rounded and rested.
For each loaf, I flattened it out and rolled it up. The dough was sloppy and difficult to keep rolled, it was so wet. And lifting it into the pan was therefore a bit problematic. The final proof did seem to even out some of the lumpiness of the loaf in the pan, though
There was no advice on how much cinnamon to use, so I just sprinkled it on ad lib. Next time I could use even more, I think. I can taste it, but not too much.
The dough sits in the pan for a final proof of 30-45 minutes. I set the timer for 30 minutes, and then preheated the oven to 425 degrees F. It takes about 15 minutes to preheat, so I guess it proofed for the maximum time.
The book says to turn down the oven to 325 degrees F after 10 minutes, but to bake for a total of 45-60 minutes. I baked it for 60 minutes, and it still seemed a bit blonde to me.
This had little or no oven spring, but that might be because I forgot to score it.
I baked with steam, something I wasn't told to do, so that may be why the top is a little blonde. I baked it for the full 60 minutes, and I even returned the loaf to the oven for 15 minutes atop a hot stone in a cooling oven. I think that it needed it: after taking the loaves from the pan, they were quite wet. But then, they didn't topple out immediately, they sat in the tin for 15 minutes because they had to be loosened slightly with a knife along the sides.
The loaves are not pretty, but they frankly look and taste a lot better than the Reinhart Cinnamon Loaf that took me 2 days to make and fell apart or imploded at the very last moment.
These loaves hold together when they are cut. The crumb is okay, although I would have liked to see some more spring from the oven, making it slightly more airy. Still, they are miles better than the Reinhart disaster I baked. And they don't really have a yeasty taste despite the extra yeast I used to correct the too-hot water problem.
If this is the pedestrian raisin bread, I am sure that the official raisin bread from the LKBB will be that much better.
Notes to Myself
- Cut back on the hydration of the dough just a tad. To bring it to 70%, keep the oil and the honey and the water for the yeast, but cut back the rest of the water to 459g
- Try baking without any stone in the oven. Why? I have this idea that it might be shielding the tinned dough from getting the full benefit of the extra hot first 10 minutes of baking.