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As far as I’m concerned, every day is bread day. We invariably have buttered toast each morning for breakfast. Sandwiches are not uncommon for lunch. Bread is often the starch we choose to go with dinner. (A crusty French-style loaf is wonderful with stews and soups; cubes of older bread make great stuffing for roast chicken or croutons for salad; corn bread is a must with chilli; one really can’t have palak paneer without naan or chapatis!) And if there’s no dessert made and someone neeeeds dessert? Cinnamon toast!
Even though we like so many different kinds of bread, when I heard that Zorra (kochtopf) had chosen an open theme for World Bread Day 2007, I didn’t have any difficulty deciding what bread to feature. I knew exactly what I wanted to bake: walnut raisin bread with wild yeast.
Interesting that last year I chose a raisin bread for WBD 2006 too! There’s just something about raisins in bread! Bread without raisins is good, no doubt; but bread with raisins is too good. As long as the raisins are the small dark raisins rather than the larger golden raisins. Golden raisins are too big and puffy for bread.
And how did I come to this decision to bake walnut raisin bread? In September, my sister-in-law sent me some of her bread recipes, including her favourite: “walnut raisin bread” from Beth’s Basic Bread Book by Beth Hensperger. I had already had an idea that I was going to have to try making walnut bread after reading about it in Nancy Silverton’s Breads from the La Brea Bakery but realizing that raisins could be added clinched it. I really liked that it was a multigrain bread as well. This is right up my alley – especially for the fall! There’s something about the cooler weather that calls for a stronger bigger tasting bread.
There was only one small hitch. My sister-in-law’s recipe calls for commercial yeast. Nancy Silverton’s recipe appears to be quite complex, requiring 3 days of preparation! (I do like her book but it really doesn’t seem to be aimed at the kind of home baker I am. It’s all I can manage to remember to mix the starter one day before baking! Same day bread is really more suited to my scattered temperament….) But again, I really wanted to use my wild yeast that I captured using the recipe in Piano Piano Pieno by Susan McKenna Grant. (read more about capturing yeast)
So I winged it once more for how to make the alteration from commercial yeast to wild yeast. I’m still fighting a bit with how much to allow the bread to rise (I’m pretty sure that I am letting it over-rise) so the resulting bread was a little bit on the flat side. But still I was pretty pleased and I can really understand why it is my sister-in-law’s favourite bread. I only wish she lived closer so I could take a loaf over to their house next time I bake this recipe!
By itself, the bread has a decided sour aroma – not overpoweringly so but I would like to lessen it. With sweet butter, or cream sauce, the sourness disappears completely and the other hidden flavours of the bread stand out beautifully. There is a nuttiness not just from the walnuts and a sweetness not just from the raisins. It really is stellar bread and imagine how good it’s going to be when I remember to turn the oven on early enough so it doesn’t over-rise!
It is equally wonderful for dessert with cheese. And day-old bread can be sliced thinly, drizzled with olive oil and made into crostini. Slather the toasts with herbed olive-oiled goat’s cheese. It’s almost so good this way that I have an urge to make a loaf specifically to be kept over for a day just to make crostini!
Wild Bread with Walnuts and Raisins
makes 2 round loaves (or 1 large round loaf)
based on “Country Bread with Walnuts and Raisins” in Beth’s Basic Bread Book by Beth Hensperger
- 2 Tbsp wild yeast starter
- all purpose unbleached flour
- Day before Baking – Morning Take 2 Tbsp of wild yeast starter (discard the rest) and stir in 2 Tbsp water and 3 Tbsp unbleached all-purpose flour. Cover with plastic and leave in a warm draftfree spot (counter in summer, oven with only light turned on in winter) til midday.
- Day before Baking – Midday The mixture should have doubled and there should be lots of bubbling. These are caused by the second kind of bacteria that is produced – beneficial and the kind to make bread rise) Take 2 Tbsp of above mixture (reserve the rest to add to focaccia dough or make crackers with it – don’t burn them as I did!!). Stir in 2 Tbsp water and 3 Tbsp unbleached all-purpose flour. Cover and leave… etc.
- Day before Baking – Evening Stir ⅓ c water and ⅔ c unbleached all-purpose flour into ALL of the above mixture. Cover and leave… etc.
- Baking Day Morning The mixture should have doubled and be a bubbling mass.
Reserve a portion for future bread making: Take 2 Tbsp of above mixture (reserve the rest for making walnut raisin bread). Stir in 2 Tbsp water and 3 Tbsp unbleached all-purpose flour. Cover and leave for 2 hours on the counter. Put it into a covered glass jar and store in refrigerator. (You should be feeding the starter every 3 days: take 2 Tbsp of the refrigerated mixture – discard the extra – and stir in 2 Tbsp water and
23 Tbsp unbleached all-purpose flour. To use the refrigerated starter for baking, begin at the step #1.)
- all of the buildup from above
- 2 c (500 ml) water*
- ⅛ tsp honey
- 2 Tbsp (30ml) pumpkin seed oil**
- ¼ c (60 ml) wheat bran
- ¾ c (
320180 ml) dark rye flour***
- ¾ c (
320180 ml) whole wheat flour (around 12%-14% protein)***
- 4 – 4½ c (960-1080 ml) unbleached all-purpose flour (around 11.5% protein)***
- 1 Tbsp (15ml) seasalt
- ½ c (120 ml) Thompson raisins
- ½ c (120 ml) walnuts, coarsely chopped
- Baking Day Morning Remember to reserve a portion of the starter for future bread making!
Starting with the wet ingredients, put all the above ingredients except the walnuts and raisins into a bowl that is large enough for the mixture to double. Stir together with a wooden spoon until the flour is encorporated. It will look a bit like slightly stiff oatmeal porridge. Cover with a clean damp tea towel (or use one of those elasticized reusable plastic covers that look like shower hats) and allow to rest for about 20 minutes.
- Scatter a little allpurpose flour onto your work surface and turn the dough out of the bowl onto it.
- Wash and dry the mixing bowl.
- Kneading: Without adding extra flour, knead the dough until the dough is smooth and silky (5 to 10 minutes). Let your dough scraper (a spatula works) be your friend if the dough starts sticking to the board. One hand scrapes the dough and the other kneads. Under no circumstances should you add more flour. If you find your kneading hand is sticking to much, just scrape off the excess with the scraper and continue. If you find that your hands are getting tired, lift the dough up in the air and drop it down onto the work surface. This is a particular fun way to knead, especially if you have some agression to work out… Put the kneaded dough into the clean dry mixing bowl. (It is unnecessary to oil the bowl first!) Cover and place in a draftfree area to allow the dough to rise to about double.
- Shaping: Scatter a small amount of flour on the work surface. Divide the dough into two and shape into rounds. Decorate the tops with walnuts and/or raisins if you want. Place the shaped loaves on parchment papered cookie sheet or peel. Cover with a clean damp tea towel or plastic wrap and let rise at room temperature for an hour or more – until the dough is about doubled. To test, flour your finger and press gently on the edge – it should very slowly spring back. For comparison, try pressing early on to see how it quickly springs back when the dough has not risen enough.
- Baking: Thirty minutes before you are going to bake, if using, put the baking stone on the middle rack of the oven and turn the oven to 450F.
- At the time of baking, spray the top of each round liberally with water.
Note that I do NOT throw water or spray the hot oven before putting the bread in to bake. This just lowers the temperature of the oven and could possibly damage parts of it. (I’ve heard of the glass door or the light breaking.)
Put the bread in oven and immediately turn the oven down to 400F. Bake the bread for a total of 40 to 50 minutes or until the internal temperature is between 210F and 220F. Half way through the baking, turn the bread around to account for uneven heat in the oven.
- Remove to cool on a rack. Wait til the bread is cool before cutting it. It is still continuing to bake inside! If you wish to serve warm bread, reheat it after it has cooled completely.
To reheat unsliced bread, turn the oven to 500F for 5 minutes or so. Turn the oven OFF. Put the bread in the hot oven for ten minutes.*Tap water is fine to use – just make sure that it has stood for at least 12 hours so that the chlorine has dissipated.
** Hensperger’s recipe is a “same day” recipe calling for 2½ c warm water and 1½ Tbsp active dry yeast, a pinch of granulated sugar instead of honey and walnut oil instead of pumpkin seed oil. Otherwise, the rest of the amounts in the recipe are the same.
*** Please note that even though a Canadian cup holds 250ml, I always measure flour with my half cup measure, which holds 120ml. (Why is the half cup not exactly half of a cup?? I have NO idea. Maybe the Canadians who were setting the measuring cup standards had difficulty with fractions in school…)
Zorra (Kochtopf) is hosting WBD again this year and is inviting food bloggers to join with her in another celebration of bread. Any bread fits the theme: yeasted or not, plain or fancy, homebaked or storebought.
On her blog, Zorra wrote further details:
The original World Bread Day – an event created by UIB International Union of Bakers and Bakers-Confectioners – wants to provide an opportunity to talk about bread and bakers, to find out about their history, their importance as well as their future.
Let’s bake and talk about bread on this day again! Everybody is cordially invited to participate.
The deadline for posting is Tuesday, 16th October 2006 (There is short grace period: only until Wednesday, 17 October 2007). For complete information on how to participate in “WBD 2007”, please see:
Also, if you haven’t already, do take a look at
On a more serious note, today is also World Food Day. Not too long ago, I talked about hunger. But it cannot be stressed enough that unlike us privileged few, there are many in the world who go hungry. Please remember to do what you can to end world hunger.