Friday, September 25, 2009

Friday Favorites : Kelli's Pain aux Raisins Secs et Noisettes ou Pacanes (Bread with Golden Raisins & Hazelnuts or Pecans) For the People

A one rise, homemade and healthy bread recipe that goes from start to serving in under two hours!

Kelli's Pain aux Raisins Secs et Noisettes ou Pacanes

Welcome to Friday Favorites, where A Year in Bread readers guest blog about their best bread recipes. If you bake a Friday Favorites bread at home, we hope you'll come back and share your experiences with us in the comments section of that post. Click here to find out how you can become a Friday Favorites guest blogger, and click here for last week's Friday Favorites recipe: Marielle's versatile, overnight bread dough that you can turn into sandwich loaves, hamburger and hot dog buns, or even cinnamon rolls. Happy baking!

What could be more satisfying than the simple yet magical process of baking your own bread? Baking bread and sharing it with others of course. And this week's Friday Favorites contributor, Kelli Martin Brew, shares her homemade bread in a big way.

Kelli and her family live in the Blue House of the Gainesville Catholic Worker in Florida, one of 150 Catholic Worker communities around the world 'dedicated to living the social dimension of the Gospel by serving and living with the impoverished, struggling for social and economic justice, and working for peace.'

You can read more about they do on the Gainesville Catholic Worker blog, or even follow along with the Gainesville Catholic Worker on Facebook. Kelli, an organic gardener for 25 years and committed locavore, also keeps a personal blog, Our Local Life . . . What We Need Is Here, where she writes about everything from preserving local produce and keeping chickens to Sunday Inspiration and current affairs. I loved this recent post about serving food at the Blue House's 'free café.'

My family lives in a house of hospitality, and our particular mission is to get healthy, delicious food to folks who most need it. We usually bake around 36 loaves of bread a week for guests who come to our 'free café,' and for day laborers with whom we share breakfast each Friday at several local labor pools.

Our challenge is to pack as much nutrition into our bread as we can—while making it soft and tasty enough to seem familiar and attractive to folks who may be used to (and possibly prefer) Wonder bread over whole wheat.

I recently spent some time in Paris visiting my student son (lucky me!) and found myself craving a good, solid, chewy loaf of bread after all the croissants and pains au chocolat I had indulged in. I found just what I was looking for at a fancy-schmancy boulangerie near the Arc de Triomphe.

When I got home, I worked up a recipe that is pretty darn close. I substituted pecans (our local nut) for hazelnuts, but kept the pretty, golden raisins. It’s been a hit!

Kelli's Pain aux Raisins Secs et Noisettes ou Pacanes
(Bread with Golden Raisins and Hazelnuts or Pecans)
Makes 3 to 4 loaves

On special occasions we serve this bread with homemade honey butter, but it's moist enough to be delicious on its own. Because we're always in a hurry, the bread only rises once. We also use Rapid-Rise yeast* to speed along the process. [Editor's note: You can substitute an equal amount of instant yeast and let your dough rise a little longer.]

6 cups whole wheat flour, preferably organic
2 Tablespoons Rapid-Rise yeast*
2 Tablespoons salt
4 Tablespoons sugar
4 cups (32 oz) very warm water
1/2 cup golden raisins
1/2 cup chopped pecans or hazelnuts
1/4 cup flax seeds (optional, but we like to add these when we have them; they're good for you!)
5 - 6 cups white all-purpose flour (this amount may vary), preferably organic

1. Place the whole wheat flour, yeast, salt, and sugar in a large mixing bowl and whisk together.

2. Add the warm water and whisk until the flour is completely incorporated.

3. Stir in the raisins and nuts (and flaxseed if using).

Before Adding the White Flour

4. Add enough white flour to make a stiff dough; in our humid climate, that's between 5 and 6 cups. It varies, so add just enough so that the dough no longer sticks to your hands.

Well Kneaded Dough

5. Knead vigorously for 5 to 10 minutes, additional flour as needed to prevent the dough from sticking.

Telling someone to knead for a certain amount of time seems like giving directions by suggesting one 'walk five minutes and turn left.' It all depends on how quickly you get from point A to point B. With bread, how much dough you’re working with also factors into the equation.

We usually make 12 loaves at a time, and that amount of dough needs a little more work before it’s thoroughly kneaded. So how do you know when it’s ready? Experienced bakers can feel it in their hands, but there’s a great way to double check!

Pinch off a small piece of dough and powder with flour (so your fingers won’t stick). Then slowly flatten and stretch the dough as if you were making a thin pizza crust.

If the dough is well-kneaded, you should be able to poke the stretched dough gently with your finger without tearing the dough. This is the best way I know of to tell when bread dough is ready to move to the next stage.

6. Divide the dough into four pieces (or three if your loaf pans are large), shape them into loaves [see this post for step-by-instructions on how to shape pan loaves], and place them in four greased baking pans. Let rise for 30 minutes.

The climate in our home varies wildly from season to season—warm and in the 80s during the summer, and in the 50s and much drier in the dead of winter. We’ve found the easiest way to make sure our dough rises in a timely and predictable manner (because people are waiting for us) is to place it in a warm oven to rise.

Our oven’s lowest temperature is 170° F, and that seems just right. Just heat up the oven, turn the oven off, then place the bread in to rise. For us, 25 minutes does the trick. [You can read more about bread baking basics, including how to tell when your dough has risen enough, on Susan's Farmhouse White Basic Sandwich Bread Recipe post.]

Risen and Ready to Bake

7. After the loaves have risen, preheat the oven to 350° (take your loaves out if you let them rise in the oven), then place the loaves (back) into the oven when it has heated up. Bake until browned on bottom and top — for us it's about 25 minutes.

8. Remove the loaves from the pans, let them cool on a wire rack, and try your best to wait 30 minutes before slicing into them because the bread continues to bake after you take it out of the oven.

*From Wikipedia: Rapid-Rise yeast is a variety of yeast (usually a form of instant yeast) designed to provide greater carbon dioxide output to allow faster rising at the expense of shortened fermentation times. There is considerable debate as to the value of such a product; while most baking experts believe it reduces the flavor potential of the finished product, Cook's Illustrated magazine, among others, feels that at least for direct-rise recipes, it makes little difference. Rapid-Rise yeast is often marketed specifically for use in bread machines.


Click here to continue reading the post and comments...

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Friday Favorites: One dough recipe, many breads...

A versatile, overnight bread dough recipe using a sourdough starter that is perfect for sandwich loaves, hamburger rolls, hot dog buns, and even cinnamon rolls!


Welcome to our delicious new series, Friday Favorites, where guest bloggers share their best bread recipes. If you bake a Friday Favorites bread at home, we hope you'll come back and share your experiences with us in the comments section of that post. Click here to find out how you can become a Friday Favorites guest blogger, and click here for last week's Friday Favorites recipe, Anne's Oatmeal Toasting Bread. Happy baking!

This week's guest is Marielle, who writes about fabric arts, parenting, homeschooling, and, of course, food at

A note from Marielle: These instructions are pretty long and detailed, but the process itself is quite simple and easy to do. I have three children 5 years old and under, and I don't have an abundance of time. If you can read a recipe, you, too, can make this bread!

Here's my routine:
1. Take out starter, weigh sponge ingredients, dump and mix. Go to sleep.
2. Mix dough before breakfast and let it rest while I eat.
3. Knead dough, let it rise.
4. Shape, pan and let it rise again.
5. Bake, cool and store.

will need to have a sourdough starter already on hand—I used this easy tutorial to make mine.

I've been baking bread for quite a while—ever since I picked up a packet of yeast forgotten in my mother's pantry when I was a teenager. Nothing brings out the oohs and ahhs from nonbakers like the yeasty whiff of fresh bread. But I never strayed from same day bread. No poolish, biga or sponge recipes for me. I avoided sourdough recipes like the plague.

Then, a couple of years ago in an effort to offer something a bit more healthful to my young kids and husband, I ordered Laurel's Bread Book and read it from cover to cover. I was sold, whole wheat all the way! Yeahhhhh, not so much. I produced 100% whole wheat, slightly bitter, slightly fluffy bricks. Healthful as all get out but bricks nonetheless. So I put away the book and went back to buying whole wheat bread from the store.

Fast forward to this year when I developed an interest in growing my own starter. I know, you're probably thinking, A total green-behind-the-ears-with-regards-to-sourdough thinks she can grow her own starter? What can I say except that ignorance is bliss? I found the tutorial and wonderful method on breadtopia and actually had a growing starter in days, a thriving one in a few weeks. But how would I use it?

Another google search and I found Sourdough Mike and his conversion spreadsheet. One evening after the kids had gone to sleep and I finally had my brain cells to myself, I tweaked King Arthur's Classic Sandwich Bread to include a portion of white whole wheat as well as my now bountiful starter. The outcome was delicious—a hearty light wheat bread with a substantial yet tender crumb. My family loved it so much I started making hamburger buns from the same dough, and in a fit of inspiration, cinnamon rolls. Oh yes, cinnamon rolls.

Basic Dough (makes one loaf)
Adapted from King Arthur Classic Sandwich Loaf

300 grams of starter - (I'll show you how to make this from your measly 1/2 cup of fridge starter)
70 grams whole milk
230 grams unbleached all purpose flour - (My all purpose flour is naturally high in protein so it's more along the lines of a bread flour. If you're buying a flour at the grocery store, buy bread flour.)
1¼ teaspoons table salt
2 tablespoons of honey/sugar/brown sugar/maple syrup - (I use honey but you can use whatever you'd like)
4 Tablespoons butter/oil - (I usually use canola oil but sometimes do butter.)
2 teaspoons instant dry yeast - (I use SAF brand that I get in bulk at BJs)

Note: You'll notice that my bread recipe uses both sourdough starter AND yeast. Most sourdough purists would revoke my membership and whip me with a wet noodle for muddying the recipe with yeast. Truth is I could make the recipe without yeast but it would involve a much longer rise time (about 4-5 hours for each rising period) and time alas is short around here. Fortunately by letting a sponge ferment overnight I still get the benefit of a cool rise that builds flavor and just use the yeast the next day to speed up the last two phases.

First let's build the sponge. Doing an overnight soak with the starter will soften the bran in the white wheat flour, get a jump start on gluten formation and improve the bread's taste as well as shelflife. All that for being lazy! About that white wheat flour. White whole wheat flour IS whole wheat but since it's ground from a lighter wheat berry, the flavor is a bit more mild and the texture a bit more refined than traditional whole wheat flour.

The night before I bake bread I stir the starter down and weigh it all out except for about 2 tablespoons. Pour that in the bowl (I use a dough bucket). Then feed the 2 tablespoons of starter that's left in the jar 75g of water and 65g flour. Stir and put back in the fridge. It's ready to hibernate until next week.

Back to the starter in the bowl/bucket. Since I make 5 loaves at a time I need more starter than I have after I've fed it that morning. The great thing about The Borg, aka the starter is that it's insidious. A little bit of starter will colonize a whole bowl of flour/water mix in just a few hours producing a bowlful of starter. So I subtract the starter's weight from what I need. Do a little math, subtract the starter's weight from the 300g.

Since starter is equal parts flour and water, add half water and half flour of the remaining weight needed. Sounds complicated but it's not. You'll likely have 130 grams of starter but you need 300 grams total. You'll need an additional 170 grams. Just add another 85 grams of water and 85 grams of white whole wheat flour then stir. See? Simple.

Now for this recipe I also add the milk to make the batter a bit more fluid and easier to stir the next day. Stir again and cover loosely. Air is necessary for the yeast to multiply. Leave it on the counter and remind your family that the bubbling mix the counter IS NOT trash and if they want to eat they need to keep their hands and toys off (that might only be necessary around my home).


So you've been snoozing and that hardworking starter has been digesting enzymes all night long while aligning the gluten strands to make some amazing bread. I'd say the trouble of feeding it has been well worth it. My dogs don't do anything for me in return for the food they get. They're just cute and bark loud when the mailman drops by. Lovely huh? The sponge will look like this in the morning.


If I had used white all-purpose flour instead of whole wheat the growth would have been even higher so be sure to leave enough room for the starter to expand. Nothing like waking up to your starter oozing out of its jar like some scene out of The Stuff. Stir down the sponge. I use a butter knife to stir because it's easier than a spoon but one day I'm going to buy this Danish dough whisk just for the job. Now add the honey, salt, yeast and oil. Stir it well. The oil will want to separate but just keep stirring, it will eventually incorporate.

Add about 3/4 of the flour in the recipe. At some point the dough may be too stiff for your utensil so just dig in with your hands. Continue adding flour until the dough is just slightly sticky but still holds together. Instead of kneading, cover the mix and set it aside for 20 minutes. Why? Because flour doesn't hydrate instantly. If you were to add enough flour for the dough to be smooth right now you'd end up with a dry crumbly dough later on as the flour absorbs the moisture slowly. If you let it rest (this step is called autolyse) then the flour will hydrate and your dough will be much easier to knead later.

When the dough has rested, dump it out and knead for 6-8 minutes or until it smooths out, is just barely sticky and forms a smooth ball. Put the dough back in the bucket and let it rise until doubled for 1 to 1 1/2 hours depending on your room temperature. The dough is ready for shaping when a floured finger poked into the top does not fill back in or fills in slowly. Dump out the dough and press out the air bubbles with your fingertips.


You want to flatten it evenly and then roll it into a log for the loaves. Pinch the ends to seal and place in a well greased loaf pans. My favorites are the Chicago Metallic ones onthe left but I also use the pyrex ones when I need more than two loaves.


For the hamburger buns I press the dough out into a large circle about an inch thick. Cut out buns with a 3-inch cookie cutter and set on a parchment lined baking sheet. I don't like rerolling dough so I just cut them very close together and when they rise, they will round out. No need for perfection. The taste of homemade bread is the artistry. Let the dough rise covered (or like me in the oven with the light on for warmth) for another 1 to 1/2 hours until doubled. The same finger poke test works well to test the dough for doubling.


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and remember to take out the bread if you let it rise in the oven. Bake the loaves for 30-35 minutes and the buns for approximately 25 minutes. Some say the bread loaves are done when they sound hollow if thumped underneath. I take the temperature and it's done when the internal temperature is 190 degrees. Take the loaves out of the pan and let them cool before slicing.


I hope you enjoyed our family's favorite everyday bread recipe. I have more detailed instructions on my blog, including lots more photos and instructions on making the cinnamon rolls here:
Bread Baking Day Part 1
Bread Baking Day Part 2
Cinnamon Rolls

Previous Friday Favorites:
Anne's Oatmeal Toasting Bread

Knead more bread? Check our recipe index for links to all the recipes posted on A Year in Bread.


Click here to continue reading the post and comments...

Friday, September 11, 2009

Friday Favorites:
Anne's Oatmeal Toasting Bread Recipe

Anne's Oatmeal Toasting Bread

Welcome to our delicious new series, Friday Favorites, where guest bloggers share their best bread recipes. If you bake a Friday Favorites bread at home, we hope you'll come back and share your experiences with us in the comments section of that post. Click here to find out how you can become a Friday Favorites guest blogger. Happy baking!

Our first Friday Favorites contributor is Anne Willhoit, who lives on Bainbridge Island in Washington state and shares 'recipes, explorations in the home made, and occasional rants' on her wonderful blog about eating locally and sourcing your ingredients close to home, Small Potatoes.

I've been on a quest for the perfect oatmeal bread recipe for awhile. I think that I have finally found it, and now it's the bread that I wake up with every morning.

When we moved to Bainbridge Island, I finally felt like a local the day I casually ordered Blackbird Bakery's toast and jam. All of their pretty pastries out front distract the frugal customer or visiting tourist from the island's best kept secret tradition—oatmeal toast and jam.

I've tried so many different recipes. I've searched the Internet and consulted the ladies at the baking circle. My mom has listened to me rant and even mailed me her best guesses. I've hounded friends who have known people who worked at the bakery. ("All I can tell you," one lady told me, "is that it takes two days.") I've gathered clues, experimented, and really, the only shame in this process is that we've had to eat a lot of just okay toast.

And now, I've stumbled upon the most delicious accident. One morning, I misjudged the time that I had to fix breakfast and had to rush out the door hungry, leaving an almost cooked pot of steel-cut oats on the counter. When I got home it was a gloppy mess, but I hated to waste so many oats. I wondered if there was a bread that could be made with leftover, cooked oatmeal. There, in King Arthur's Whole Grain Baking, was the answer to my quest! The recipe below is a loose adaptation from a recipe titled "Irish Porridge Bread."

While not exactly like Blackbird's, it's delicious enough to hold us over until we can decode their secret. This recipe is now our daily bread—it truly makes mornings better. Toasted with jam or under a fried egg, it really can't be beat.

Anne's Oatmeal Toasting Bread
Makes 1 two-pound loaf or 2 small one-pound loaves

This bread is both hearty and light. More than just a simple vehicle for jam, it could almost be a complete meal. If you omit the vital wheat gluten, it will be tasty but will crumble all over your toaster. [Editor's note: Gluten is the mix of proteins in flour that provides the structure and texture of bread. It does this by forming long strands as you knead the dough. Because there is a substantial quantity of oats—which do not contain gluten—in this recipe, adding some vital wheat gluten helps this bread hold its shape. Look for vital wheat gluten—also sometimes called gluten flour—in the bulk section of natural foods stores.]

To make fresh 'porridge':
Bring 1½ cups (12 oz.) water to a simmer. Add 1/2 cup (3 oz.) steel-cut oats. Simmer on low, covered, for about 25 minutes.

For the bread:
1½ cups / 5 oz leftover steel-cut oatmeal, room temperature
4 Tablespoons / 2 oz unsalted butter
1/4 cup / 2 oz light brown sugar
1¼ teaspoons / .25 oz salt
1 cup / 3.65 oz raw old-fashioned (not quick) rolled oats
1/4 cup / 1.2 oz oat bran
2 cups / 10 oz bread flour
1/4 cup / 1.2 oz nonfat dry milk (If you prefer to make your porridge with milk, omit this.)
2 Tablespoons / .5 oz vital wheat gluten
2 teaspoons / .25 oz instant yeast

1. Melt the butter and stir in the brown sugar and salt. Stir this into the leftover porridge.

2. Put the rolled oats, oat bran, bread flour, dry milk, vital wheat gluten, and yeast in a large bowl.

3. Stir in the porridge mixture.

4. Knead by machine or hand for about 10 minutes. This is a very sticky dough. You may need to add more flour so that you can move from sticky towards tacky, which is desirable.

5. Place the dough in a clean oiled bowl. Cover with a cloth, and let the dough rise for 1 hour.

6. Flour a work surface. Gently flour the dough and fold over about four times. Dust with flour if the dough is sticking to your hands. (If making multiple loaves, divide the dough now into equal pieces.)

7. Fold the dough in half, pinch the seam, and gently roll into a loaf shape the length of your pan. The dough will be stiff. If needed, pinch the seam with moistened fingers.

8. Place in greased loaf pans. You want the ends of the loaf to touch the short ends of your pan (so it will rise evenly.)

9. Cover with oiled plastic wrap and a towel. Let dough rise for 1 hour or until doubled in size.

10. Dust the top with oat bran, if you like.

11. Bake at 350°F for 40 minutes.

—To double the recipe and make 2 loaves, start with: 3 cups water and 1 cups uncooked oats. This will result in 3 cups of cooked oatmeal, which is your goal.

—If you've made fresh oatmeal, go ahead and stir the butter, brown sugar, and salt into it. Cool your oatmeal down to below 120°F, before proceeding with the recipe.

—This bread freezes well. Defrost overnight in the refrigerator to retain moisture.

Knead more bread? Check our recipe index for links to all the recipes posted on A Year in Bread.


Click here to continue reading the post and comments...

Thursday, September 03, 2009

Wordless Wednesday: Gluten strands