This past weekend I was dreaming of a bread that I had at a local restaurant a while back. It was a hearty sandwich bread studded with raisins with a hint of cinnamon in the background. I had it as toast with my breakfast, and it held up really well to a thick layer of butter and a coating of strawberry jam. So, I decided it was time to give making it a try.
I wanted it to be a sourdough bread because the long slow rise that comes with a sourdough imparts a wonderful flavor and a heartier texture. There is a little more chew in the interior crumb than if the bread were made with just commercial yeast. I have to make a note that my sourdoughs tend not to be sour at all. I maintain my sourdough in a way that it is very mild. In my first attempt I did not use any rye flour at all, just white bread flour, although this bread had great texture it was lacking a bit of substance for me. I thought about adding whole wheat flour, but I find that sometimes it is slightly bitter, so I opted for rye flour. I think oat flour would be really nice too.
With the second attempt I changed some of the bread flour out for 4.25 oz of rye flour. I like to start by changing out a 1/3 of the bread flour with a whole grain flour. I find that this ratio still gives you a high rising loaf of bread with great whole grain character. The next change I made was to slightly increase the amount of cinnamon from 1/2 tsp. to 3/4 tsp. and I decreased the salt to 1 3/4 tsp. from a whole 2 tsp. I felt that the first bread was just a pinch too salty. The final change I made was in the baking process. I increased the oven temperature from 350 to 400 degrees for the first 15 minutes, then I reduced the temperature to 350 for the remaining 20-25 minutes. In my first attempt I put the loaf in a 350 for about 45 minutes. The problem was that it did not really want to brown up and after removing it from the oven it was stuck to the pan. This means that the crust was having a hard time forming. So, the increase in the initial temperature helped the crust to form in the pan more quickly and it also helped the crust brown more (the maillard reaction).
Refresh your levain with at least 130 grams of flour and 130 grams of water a couple hours before you plan on starting this loaf.
- 9.15 oz (1 cup plus 2 TB, 260 grams) Levain
- 9.25 oz (2 cups plus 3 TB, 261 grams) unbleached bread flour
- 4.25 oz (1 cup, 121 grams) whole rye flour
- .90 oz (2 TB, 25 grams) sugar
- .55 oz (1 TB, 15 grams) unsalted butter softened
- .40 oz (1 3/4 tsp., 10 grams) salt
- .05 oz (3/4 tsp., 2 grams) cinnamon
- .05 oz (1/2 tsp., 2 grams) instant yeast
- 5.9 oz (3/4 cup, 168 grams) water
- 2 oz (1/4 cup, 58 grams) milk
- 3.3 oz (3/4 cup, 92 grams) raisins
- Combine all the ingredients except for the raisins into a large bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook. Knead the dough by hand for 10-12 minutes or by machine for 7-10, or until the dough becomes smooth and elastic and passes the windowpane test. Incorporate your raisins. I do this by hand because I find that it does not break the raisin up like the dough hook does. Flatten you dough out onto the counter and then sprinkle you raisins out onto it. Knead the dough until your raisins are evenly distributed. Lightly oil your bowl and place the dough back into it. Cover the bowl tightly with plastic wrap and allow to rise at room temperature for 2 1/2-3 1/2 hours. The colder it is in your home the longer it will take to rise. It will also rise faster in the summertime.
- When your dough has fully risen, remove it from the bowl onto a very lightly floured counter. Shape the dough into a rough ball and allow to rest for a couple of minutes before shaping into a loaf. Place the smooth side of the dough down onto the counter and gentle flatten it out into a rough rectangle that is about 2 inches shorter than the loaf pan you are going to bake it in. Roll the dough into a log with the short side facing you. Place the log into a greased loaf pan, cover with oiled plastic wrap and allow to rise for 1 1/2 – 2 1/2 hours or until it has crowned over the pan by about an inch.
- 45 minutes before you plan on baking your loaf preheat your oven to 400 degrees with the rack positioned in the middle of the oven.
- Bake your risen loaf at 400 degrees for 15 minutes. Lower the temperature to 350 and continue to bake for another 25-30 minutes, or until the loaf is a light golden brown. It will sound hollow when tapped on the bottom. Allow the loaf to cool on a wire rack completely before slicing. This bread freezes beautifully. Wrap the whole loaf in aluminum foil and freeze, or slice before freezing and store in a freezer bag for up to 3 months.