Thursday, August 16, 2012

Rosemary Raisin Rye Bread

Well, I knew I wasn’t going to be able to post as often as I would have liked, but away from these pages for a whole two weeks? That’s just a darn dirty shame! At least there’s been a break in the hot weather, so it’s a bit more bearable to talk about baking something. Like a loaf of bread with rye flour, raisins, and fresh rosemary.

In the past, I’ve had some difficulty getting the stone-ground rye flour I like to work itself into a loaf of bread without any brick-like tendencies. I thought maybe I could use a lighter, more finely-ground rye flour, but, alas, there was none to be found in the supermarkets. Really? Nobody sells plain ol’ rye flour anymore? Huh. Well, the stone-ground flour is fragrant and flavorful and has a high Whole Food Quotient (WFQ), so I decided it was probably better than any heavily-refined stuff anyway. I could make it work.

The problem I seemed to have in the past was that the rye flour would suck up all the water in the bread recipe and make a very stiff dough that was hard to knead and didn’t rise very well. I probably changed too many variables at once, but when I made this bread, I tried to solve my texture problems by 1) Using a relatively small amount of the rye flour, 2) Letting the stiffness of the dough dictate how much more flour to add while kneading, keeping the dough fairly wet, and being ready to add more water if necessary, and 3) Using a heavy-duty electric mixer with a dough hook to do the kneading of this moist but still stiff dough.

This all seemed to work for me. My resulting loaf of bread rose well and was light and soft when baked. Most importantly, however, it was delicious.  I must have made this bread before, judging by the typed and printed recipe sheet in a 3-ring binder that usually indicates that such is the case, but I couldn’t remember how the rosemary and raisins tasted together. Now, I’d say they’re delicious together. The raisins bring the bread a little to the sweet side of things, but the rosemary pulls it back a little more toward savory. As a result, I think this bread could be used in a variety of both sweet and savory applications from accompanying a pasta dish to French toast or bread pudding.

I sincerely hope that this cooler weather holds out….and that I can find the time…to bake some more of this bread. With its high ratio of bread flour to whole grain flour, it might not have as high of WFQ as it could, but it’s uniquely delicious loaf.

Rosemary Raisin Rye Bread
Adapted from several sources

As always, you could probably forgo the use of an electric mixer and knead this dough by hand, but I recommend still trying to keep it somewhat sticky as you knead.

I think you could use other whole-grain flours or a multi-grain mixture in place of the rye flour.

1 cup warm water (about 100 F)
2-2 ¼ teaspoons (1 envelope) active dry yeast
1 tablespoon honey
1 tablespoon olive oil
¾ cup stone-ground rye flour
2 cups bread flour (or as needed), divided
1 tablespoon vital gluten flour
1 teaspoon fine salt
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh rosemary
¾ cup raisins
Nonstick cooking spray 

1. In the bowl of a heavy-duty electric mixer combine the water, yeast and honey. Let stand for about 5 minutes or until the yeast is foamy.

2. Add the olive oil, rye flour, 1 cup bread flour and gluten. Mix to form a wet batter. Cover the bowl with a towel and let stand for 15-30 minutes. The batter should appear puffy and bubbly.

3. Add the salt and about ½ cup of the remaining bread flour. With the dough hook, knead the dough about 10 minutes or until somewhat smooth and stretchy. Gradually add the remaining flour as you knead, but try to keep the dough a bit wet and sticky.  If you have as much as ¼ cup flour remaining and the dough is already very stiff, add a little more water, 1 teaspoon at a time, to make a moister dough.

4. Knead in the rosemary and raisins. Shape the dough into a ball. Spray a large bowl with nonstick cooking spray. Place the dough ball in the bowl and spray the top of the dough. Place a sheet of plastic wrap on top of the dough and cover the whole thing with a towel. Let stand for about an hour our until roughly doubled in size.

5. Gently deflate the dough, shaping it into a smaller ball again. Cover and let stand about 5 minutes. Shape the dough into a long, narrow loaf.  Place on a baking pan coated with cooking spray or lined with a silicone mat. Cover with a towel and let stand 45 minutes to 1 hour or until roughly doubled in size.

6. As the dough is rising, preheat the oven to 375 F. Remove the towel and cut several slits in the top of the dough with a sharp knife, being careful not to deflate it. Bake at 375 for about 30 minutes or until the bread tests done. Cool on a wire rack.

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