Wednesday night about 10:15 p.m., I got an uncontrollable craving for some really good bread. Healthy — yes, that was definitely in the back of my head, but I was also really wanting the nutty, chewy texture of whole grain with lots of seeds, nuts and grain. I wanted the texture as much as the bread. I also wanted something different than my usual favorite — maybe something a little sweet. So, being the adventurer extraordinaire that I am, I decided at 10:30 pm to tweak my favorite recipe (not the half whole wheat, half white, everyday recipe that I appease my family with occasionally) and make some Whole Grain Cinnamon Raisin Bread. And since my favorite recipe makes four giant loaves of bread, my first tweak was to scale it back — something that all of you know almost never happens in MY kitchen. 🙂 But scale it back, I did. I pretty much halved everything and added a few touches that could satisfy my cravings and by 11:15 p.m., I had two gorgeous loaves, rising in the pans. What? You don’t bake bread at midnight? – lol – Some cravings just cannot be denied. You’ll see. You’ll be wanting some, too!
And what’s my one and only, go-to every time, first-love appliance in the kitchen? That’s right, you know I pulled out my Bosch. I’m going to share something a little personal. We’ve been visiting long enough and I think you can handle it. I HATE “stuff” on my counters. I just can’t take it. I can’t bake something or prepare a meal if the counters are cluttered. I have to clean everything up first. It’s a personal problem, sort of an irrational OCD thing, but I can’t help it. I don’t want appliances, dishes, papers, crumbs, NOTHING on my countertops. I know, I need help; but you’ll be happy to know I have been able to manage a candle, a decorative cookie jar and in the back corner, behind the fridge, I keep my Bosch out on the counter — because I love it so much and because I use it on an almost daily basis (and because I love him more than any appliance 😉 , David gets to keep his coffeemaker beside the Bosch.) In another post, I will have to tell you how great the Bosch is and publicly declare my affections for it, but today, we’ll settle for “I pulled out my Bosch from the corner and made some reeeeediculously delicious bread!”
Whole Grain Cinnamon Raisin Bread
- 2½ cups warm water
- ½ cup brown sugar
- 2 Tbls. yeast
- ¼ cup melted butter
- 3 Tbls. granular lecithin (liquid is fine)
- ½ cup wheat gluten
- 3 – 4 tsp. cinnamon
- 1 tsp. sea salt
- 2 cups of seeds, grains, and nuts (I used the Harvest Grains Blend from King Arthur. A big splurge, but so worth it on this particular occasion.)
- 4 – 5 cups of whole wheat flour
- 1½ cups raisins
Put the warm water, sugar and yeast into the bowl on the Bosch and stir gently (or put the lid on and let it whir! I just wasn’t messing with the lid, yet, at this point.)Add melted butter, lecithin, wheat gluten, cinnamon and salt and mix until combined. (I only used 2 tsp of cinnamon when I made this recipe and wished, when I had finished, that I had used more. The cinnamon flavor was only mildly discernible and next time I will definitely double that, so go by your own personal taste, as to how much seems right.)
Mix in about 3½ cups of the flour and then in small increments, gradually add just what you need to complete the dough. In total for this batch, I used 4½ cups of flour. (After all my bread posts, you are probably tired of hearing this, but it is really important if you want the best possible bread. Humidity will dramatically affect the amount of flour you need to make bread dough. Add a portion of what is called for, mix it in and then begin adding flour in 1/2 cup to 1/4 cup intervals, mixing and adding more when needed, until the dough in your machine just starts to pull away from the sides of the bowl and leaves the bowl sides clean. The dough will be very soft, but not sticky to the touch. That is perfect dough.)
Add the grain and raisins and mix until incorporated (as in mixed together, not as in having formed a business. That would take forever. 🙂 ) See below for a tip on baking with raisins.
Knead on power level 2 for seven minutes or turn onto a floured board and knead by hand for ten to fifteen minutes.
Place in a lightly oiled bowl and cover with a warm, damp tea towel and let rise until doubled in size.
Punch down the dough. Knead slightly until it forms a smooth ball. Divide in half.
Form each half into a loaf and place in a greased loaf pan. Cover with a warm, damp tea towel and let rise until doubled in size.
Bake in a 350° oven for 35-40 minutes.
Remove from oven and butter the tops of the loaves. Turn onto a cooling rack and allow loaves to cool before slicing. (Okay, that’s the official stance on cooling and slicing. The reality is you will want to slice a warm, wonderful hunk right off the loaf as soon as it is out of the pan. I’d like to discourage you from doing that, because a) you’ll burn your mouth, b) it squishes the loaf out of shape and c) you’ll burn your mouth. But, since I don’t even heed my own advice, I don’t feel right withholding the pleasure of warm, delicious bread and scorched lips from the rest of you. A woman has to do what a woman has to do.
If you MUST slice the loaf while it is still warm, turn the loaf on its side and with a serrated blade, using a sawing motion and very little pressure, remove a slab and then gently set the loaf back on the cooling rack, next to its kin. While all of it is cooling you can dredge your freshly hewn hunk of bread with lots of butter and revel in the deliciousness.
Once the bread has cooled, I like to slice it and then either freeze it or store it in airtight containers. If you can find them, the 2 -gallon ziplocs work really well, but the 1 -gallons are usually too small, since I use slightly over-sized loaf pans. The company that made this handy-dandy bread slicer is no longer in business and since next to my Bosch, this is the kitchen tool I love almost in second place, I guard it carefully. I even found some poor unsuspecting person on Ebay who had no idea they could never get another one, and I bought the one they had, without one glimmer of a guilty conscience. Using an electric knife, this gadget allows me to make thin, uniform slices, that store and serve easily. I have seen similar contraptions on Amazon, but nothing exactly like this beauty. See how lovely the slices are?
**The promised tip for baking with raisins** If your raisins are particularly dried, they can often scorch and have an almost burnt, bitter taste after further dehydrating in your oven. So, before I add them to mixtures I will be baking, I measure them into a microwave safe container, completely cover them in water and microwave on full power for 1 – 2 minutes. I leave them in that warm water while I mix the rest of my ingredients and then thoroughly drain them just before adding them to my dough or batter. They are plump, juicy and sweet even after the baking is complete.
How did the bread turn out? Take a look. See how soft, pliable and tender it is? It doesn’t crack or tear when I fold it over. It is the texture of your husband’s and children’s white bread dreams. That’s how I finally got mine to eat true whole wheat bread (but I still have to leave out the nuts, grains, and seeds from theirs). It’s the lecithin. I have never been able to achieve this texture without it. So, while it is not necessary to the successful taste or rising of the bread, it is definitely necessary for this specific texture and softness.
This bread is bee-YEW-tiful toasted and even better as cinnamon toast, but you won’t believe how amazingly delicious it was for grilled cheese sandwiches! Stay tuned for the toasted, ooey, gooey, yumminess.
PRINTABLE RECIPE COMING SOON!
This post is linked to Grocery Cart Challenge.