This bread comes from Jeffrey Hamelman’s “Bread” cookbook and is one of my favourite breads. It makes any sandwich better and makes great toast, too.
I make this with just regular raisins but if you can find “golden” I’m sure it would be very pretty. Sometimes I substitute pecans for the walnuts or dried cranberries for the raisins. Or sometimes I just add a bit of all of them. It’s really a great base bread to experiment with. Makes 2 large or 3 medium loaves.
Golden Raisin and Walnut Bread
Summary: A great, free-form loaf. I like to make these loaves into the torpedo shape. Excellent for eating out of hand with butter or great toasted.
- To Make the Stiff Biga (Starter):
- 4 oz. bread flour (7/8 cup)
- 4 oz. whole wheat flour (7/8 cup)
- 5 oz. water (5/8 cup)
- 1/8 teaspoon instant yeast
- The night before baking, mix the yeast in the water and stir. Add the flours and knead to form a stiff, but supple dough. Add more water if necessary. Cover with a plastic wrap and leave to ferment at room temperature for 12 to 16 hours.
- Final dough:
- 1 lb. 5.6 oz. bread flour (5 cups)
- 2.4 oz. whole wheat flour (1/2 cup)
- 1 lb. 2 oz. water (2.25 cups)
- 1 tablespoon salt
- 2.5 teaspoons instant yeast
- All of the Biga (Starter)
- 1 1/4 cups chopped walnuts
- 1 cup packed golden raisins
- To make the final dough, combine all of the ingredients except the Biga, walnuts and raisins in a mixing bowl. Chop the Biga up into small pieces and mix or knead it into the final dough until they are thoroughly combined. You can use a stand mixer to do this or, if kneading by hand, knead for 8 to 10 minutes until the two are fairly well combined and the gluten is well developed. If you stretch the dough, it should be fairly elastic and stretch into a thin membrane.
- Add the walnuts and raisins and mix until they are evenly incorporated.
- Place the dough back in a greased bowl, cover and ferment for 2 hours, punching down or folding the dough once after one hour.
- To fold: Take the dough out of the bowl, spread it out a little on a board, fold it in thirds like a letter, rotate it 90 degrees and fold it up again, return the dough to the bowl and cover it again. Folding degases the dough without damaging the gluten.
- At the end of the fermentation, divide the dough into two pieces and shape each lightly into rounds on a lightly floured surface and place with the seams up. Cover with a clean towel and let each rest for 10 to 20 minutes before shaping into the final shape.
- Shape into tight round or oval loaves. Place the loaves on a baking sheet, cover them with a clean towel and set aside for a final rise, approximately 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 hours. Halfway though the final rise, begin preheating the oven to 460° F.
- Just before placing the loaves in the oven, score them with a knife. Use a squirt bottle to steam the oven (take care not to squirt on the bulb).
- Place the loaves in the oven and squirt again.
- After 20 minutes of baking, lower the oven temperature to 440° F. Bake for another 20 minutes. Watch near the end as the raisins may burn quickly.
- When an instant read thermometer inserted in the bottom of the loaf reads around 200° F., it is done. Cool on a wire rack for at least 20 minutes before slicing.
Prep time: 15 min
Cook time: 40 min
Total time: 12 hours 45 min
Number of servings (yield): 2