Tuesday, June 15, 2010

{TWD} Raisin Swirl Bread


What a difference the baking group Tuesdays With Dorie has made in my kitchen! Nearly two years of steady baking, week in and week out, has made me comfortable with a variety of techniques and ingredients. The biggest transformation , however, has been in yeast baking. My first ever yeast experience was a Dorie recipe (Kugelhopf, posted here) and I have no doubt that were it not for my participation in TWD I would never have attempted to bake with yeast.

Boy, am I glad that I did; I was bitten by the yeast bug and now I even have a separate blog devoted solely to my yeast baking. So I was pleased to see that the assigned recipe for this week is Raisin Swirl Bread. Raisin bread is a longtime favorite in our house, and the best version I've baked is a Peter Reinhard recipe from his book The Bread Baker's Apprentice (which I posted here). How would Dorie's compare?

n.o.e.'s notes:

- The recipe was chosen by Susan of the blog Food.Baby. You can find the recipe on her post.

- I made half recipe in a smallish loaf pan.

- Rather than active dry yeast, I used instant yeast. The conversion is to use 3/4 of the active dry measurement when measuring the instant yeast. The instant yeast doesn't need to be proofed, but rather is added with the dry ingredients.

- My favorite way to mix bread is by hand, but if I use a machine, I invariably use my food processor. I love the speed and precision of this method. It requires the ingredients to be mixed in a different order, but before long it really becomes second nature. First all of the dry ingredients (including the instant yeast) are combined in the food processor bowl. Then the liquid ingredients are added in a slow stream while the machine is pulsing. Continue to process the dough until it gathers into a ball, generally a minute of less. When the dough has been mixed/kneaded enough, it will register 77-81 degrees on an instant thermometer, and the dough will pass the "windowpane" test, meaning that it will be translucent when stretched between the fingers of both hands.

- Dorie's recipe calls for all-purpose flour, but I wanted bread with a sturdy crumb and some whole grain complexity, so I used a mixture of high gluten flour, oat flour, and white whole wheat flour. I added the optional nutmeg and orange zest to the dough.

- For the swirl, I used brown sugar with cinnamon and a very dark cocoa powder. After my buddy Di mentioned that she was leaving out the butter so that the bread wouldn't fall apart where the swirl was I decided to follow suit.

- I put the dough into the freezer for the specified 30 minute rest and set a timer. At the time I had a lot of other cooking and baking projects going in the kitchen - you know where this is going, right? - so when the timer rang I got distracted and promptly forgot about my dough. About 3 hours later I remembered the bread dough! At that point I moved it from freezer to the fridge for an overnight stint and the next day I formed and baked the bread.


the verdict:

When I sliced this bread, I gave a little gasp - it was so gorgeous! The swirl, with its plump raisins, looked like a string of beads. The bread had nice flavor and texture, but I have to say that it didn't unseat my favorite Peter Reinhart raisin bread. It was pretty good toasted, and I'm sure that Dorie's suggestion of French toast would be quite delicious. Also our host Susan made cinnamon toast with her bread and I'm going to try that out. Thanks, Susan!

19 comments:

sarahe said...

gorgeous! and i agree--this group has made me grow so much in my confidence and willingness to try new things. to think, just 2 years ago i was relying on slice & bake cookies!

Renee said...

Beautiful!! I'm eager to try the BBA one. I'm a couple weeks away from it. I'm excited to join the new Dorie group with the new book in Oct.

mike said...

Ok, another beautiful swirl (I'm on this swirl kick) - it's stunning (as swirls go). How on earth do you get it so perfectly swirled? Maybe I just rolled mine too tight... at any rate - it was my first loaf and definitely not my last. Loved the cocoa in the filling - but brown sugar, a great addition. It's beautiful!

Di said...

Ooh, I like the brown sugar idea--I wish I'd thought of it. I like my raisins mixed throughout the loaf, but I really like the way yours look in the swirl. Very pretty. =) I definitely think PR has spoiled us as far as bread baking goes... =P

margot said...

Your bread looks perfect! I've never tried mixing yeast dough in the food processor, I'll have to try it one day.

The Kugelhopf was my second TWD recipe and I remember thinking I really didn't know what I'd gotten myself into.

Audrey said...

Oooh, that swirl! I gasped, too!

bellini valli said...

Growing up mom always had a loaf of raisin bread ready for toasting.

Kayte said...

Perfect, absolutely perfect. You have such a way with breads...they always look so wonderful that I can taste and smell them from here. I have to make that Kugelhopf again soon...very soon. I had forgotten all about it and it is one of my favorites.

Barbara said...

Nancy, this looks divine! Cinnamon raisin bread has been a favorite in my family since I was a child. My dad loved it toasted with honey butter. My grandmother used to make it (she used to own a bakery) but I have never tried it.
Yours was such a success, I'm going to give it a go!

natalia said...

Ciao ! Your bread really looks beautiful !!

Tia said...

i love how artsy and different everybody's swirls look! it's beautiful!

Jhonny walker said...

I can't imagine pulling off such a perfect swirl...gorgeous and perfect!

Flourchild said...

I like the sting of beads analogy! The bread looks great!
Im with you on this baking group, I would have flipped by so many of the recipes we have baked. Im so glad I have had the time to add some spice to my kitchen!!
I used half of my bread for the french toast and it was fantastic. I still have a few slices left for more french toast!

TeaLady said...

yes it was easy to make. Ditto on the baking experience and education.

Yes, the BBA raisin was better to me, but this one was good too. (I had forgotten about the brown sugar. We used that before.

Little string of raisins. Like that.

Eliana said...

Nancy - your bread looks picture perfect.

Lady Baker said...

What a perfectly swell swirl you have there! :)

Katrina said...

Wow, I didn't realize your first bread was the kugel---. Your bread looks great. I used some white whole wheat flour also and made cinnamon rolls. I'm aching to make the actual bread! It was a great dough to work with. Smart idea to leave out the butter, that is probably what was making people's swirls separate.

AmyRuth said...

Nancy, that is exactly what I thought when I saw your photo, even before I read your remarks. so beautiful and I'm glad to read about your mixture of flours as well. I will have to try PR's recipe as well. I love this type of bread for breakfast but would love to bake with whole grains or a mix therof. Beautiful - no surprise.
AmyRuth

Peggy said...

Love your bread. It is so perfect as always. I hope you are having a nice vacation. It seems like we have not 'comment chatted' in a while. I really loved this bread and it was enjoyable to make as well. I always learn something from you when I visit your blog.