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Walnut Raisin Bread

I have been baking bread for more years than I care to admit to. From the thousands upon thousands of loaves I baked on the USS Ranger, to the tons of pizza dough I made at Pirro’s, the free-spirited years at Tahoe, or the hotel kitchens where I would jump in to make a thousand un petit pain for some banquet or another to pumpkin rolls at Thanksgiving, I’ve baked a lot of bread. I’ve baked Artisan Breads in 5 minutes, I’ve made Julia Child’s Pain Francais – all 907 convoluted steps. I’ve made a majority of the breads in two of my most favorite cook books – Carol Field’s The Italian Baker and James Beard’s Beard on Bread. I read them like other people read novels, dreaming up different dishes to serve with them – and sometimes even following through on them…

You could say I like bread.

And this particular bread has become a favorite.  Besides being ridiculously easy to make – it’s foolproof! This is my third batch in 2 weeks – made slightly different each time – and they have all been great.

This time around I decided to make a walnut raisin version.  It came out stupendous and really – could not have been easier. I keep the starter in the ‘fridge at all times, now, because I want to be able to make another loaf at any given moment.

Walnut Raisin Bread

starter

  • 2 tsp active dry yeast
  • 3/4 cup water 110°
  • 1 3/4 cups flour

Sprinkle yeast into the warm water. Stir to dissolve. Stir in flour. Cover bowl with clean towel and leave at room temperature for 2-3 days.

dough

  • 1 tsp active dry yeast
  • 3/4 cup water 110°
  • 1 cup starter
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup rye flour
  • 1/4 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 cup raisins
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts

Sprinkle yeast into water in mixing bowl. Stir to dissolve. Add starter, flours, and salt.

Mix on low speed with dough hook for about 5 minutes or until dough is smooth and elastic. Add raisins and walnuts and continue mixing another 5 or so minutes.Knead by hand for a minute or two on a lightly-floured surface to make sure the nuts and raisins are evenly distributed.. Place the dough into a clean bowl and cover with a kitchen towel.

Let rise until doubled – up to 2 hours. Punch dough down and let rest for about 10 minutes before forming the loaf.

Shape the dough into a cylindrical loaf and place on a bread peel generously coated with coarse cornmeal. Cover with a kitchen towel and let rise again until doubled – about an hour.

Preheat oven with baking stone to 425°.

Dust loaf with flour and then make three parallel slashes across the top. Slide dough onto stone and bake for about 1 hour.

Replenish starter with about 3/4 cup flour and 1/2 cup water.

Form the dough into a loaf and let rise until doubled.

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Dust with flour and make three parallel slashes.

 

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Slather with butter and eat!

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Repeat.

I really would love to encourage folks to take the time to bake a loaf of bread. I know some folks have gotten discouraged because their bread doesn’t come out like Wonder Bread or stuff from a bakery. Commercial bakeries are using dough conditioners and a myriad of chemicals and stuff to make every loaf identical.

You’re not doing that at home and you shouldn’t want your bread to taste store-bought, anyway. The reason you make it at home is so it doesn’t taste store-bought! Really. Think about it.

There are a lot of bread recipes right here to get you started.

Bake a loaf. You’ll be glad you did!

 

 

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