All grains contain peptides that mimic morphine or endogenous opioid substances. This is where I deal with my latest loaf craving. Get your bread-based exorphin fix here.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Raisin Sourdough Bread with Almonds

Raisin Sourdough Bread with Almonds
Made with my Discard

Today's musing
My mother used to tell a story about how she noticed a pattern when I was little: when I came home from kindergarten, I was always in a bad mood.  I would stomp in the door and through the house, a dark cloud over my head, and she didn't know what was going on.  Was I being bullied at school?  Was I finding the work too difficult?  She didn't know how to broach the subject with me, about my obviously worsening psychological difficulties.  She was worried about me.

Then one day, she watched again as I scowled my way through the kitchen.  This day, however, I grabbed a banana and devoured it greedily, and my mood visibly smoothed over.  The lightbulb went on over my mother's head.  I was hungry.

From that day on, she would pack an extra sandwich with my lunch.  The dark cloud vanished.

Reflecting on this story, I begin to think that prior to my making my own bread, and finding joy in that process, and changing my tastes to better enjoy whole grains, I have been hungry -- and miserable -- for most of my life.

Today's Bread
This is Day 2 of trying to get my starters into working order.  I'm just playing with the discards, making experimental loaves with them.

I'm using pretty much the same recipe as yesterday, but here I'm reversing the rye and whole wheat flours.  Now I have 30% rye and 70% whole wheat.  I've also backed off on the water to 60%.  This makes a (barely) kneadable dough, since there is still lots of wetness in the starter discards I am using.

The 'extras' I've tossed in (besides the yeast and salt) are a cup of almonds and a cup of raisins.  I used almonds because it is what I had.  I looked for walnuts, but that would have required a trip to the store.


    •    90% Starter 994g
    •    100% Flour 1104g:
  •     •    70% WW 772g
  •     •    30% Rye 331g
    •    60% Water 662g
    •    2% Salt 22g
    •    1% Yeast 11g
    •    Extras:  (25%)
  • 1c Almonds 137g
  • 1c Raisins 136g

Mix up ingredients, kneading as required just to get everything incorporated. 

Set in an oiled bowl for an hour and a half. 

Divide, fold or knead.

Proof for 1 hour. 

Bake 450 degrees for 15 min, then 400 degrees for 30 min more.

This is a lot of dough, for me.  The 60% hydration is a joke; it feels more like about 78%, with the wet sourdough.  I should have divided up the dough into three; I should have done this before I added the raisins and almonds.  If the taste of this bread is crap, I have two huge loaves of it to get through.

The loaves flattened out on the pizza peel, when I sprayed them with water.  I have been a lot more gentle with upending them onto the peel, since the last deflating disaster, and it seems to be helping.  One loaf I scored, and it deflated even more -- it bounced back, but I was hoping for more oven spring.

One loaf I spread butter on the crust, the other I left 'as is'.

The loaves taste okay.  I cracked into one of them before it cooled, it smelled great while baking.  It tastes good with just a bit of butter.  A crust with a bit of brown sugar, and this would be a dessert.

Baking them makes the almonds a bit softer, soft enough for a knife to slice through.  Walnuts would have tasted better.

The bread got a shrug from my wife when I asked her how she liked it.  She was eating it with jam.  That's not the way to eat this bread.

I prefer it with nothing but butter, or perhaps a bit of old cheese.  The sourdough flavour is there, but it is faint, compared to yesterday's 'loaf'. 

One of these raisin bread loaves is going in the freezer.  They are just too big to eat all by myself in a timely way.  And I guess they just aren't good enough to give away.

Notes to Myself
  • If you have a lot of dough, divide it up before adding the 'extras', to experiment with different things you might want to try.  If you make a ton of one thing, and it doesn't turn out, then you have gained nothing.
  • Eat some bread warm from the oven once in  a while: it has to be one of the most satisfying experiences a human being can have.  Why is that?  What evolutionary niche have we filled or exploited that this is so?
  • Walnuts would have been better than almonds here.
  • Find someone who wouldn't mind having some of your bread given to them.  Make a friend.

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