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Ontario, Canada
I am a wife, mother and grandma who enjoys the many aspects of homemaking. A variety of interests and hobbies combined with travel keep me active. They reflect the importance of family, friends, home and good food.
Cook ingredients that you are used to cooking by other techniques, such as fish, chicken, or hamburgers. In other words be comfortable with the ingredients you are using.
--Bobby Flay

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Tuesday, April 23, 2013

No Knead Raisin Bread

Bread making is very much trial and error when moving outside of your comfort zone.  I have made kneaded bread ever since being a newlywed.  When the kids were home, I made a lot more bread but now average 2 loaves a week, more if entertaining.  Back in the early 1990's, I modified some of our favourite bread recipes to use in a bread machine while still making bread by hand.   In early 2007, I was once again modifying bread recipes to use with my new Kitchen Aid stand mixer.  Up to the past couple of weeks, most of the bread I made was with the aid of the stand mixer which does indeed simplify bread making.  While making a wide variety of very good homemade breads, baking a good crusty bread eluded me until now.

When I made the first batch of no knead crusty bread (room fermentation) the five minutes a day artisan bread dough (cold fermented) I fully intended to do a bit of experimenting.  The artisan boule made with the plain dough was an amazing loaf of bread!  Encouraged by that and knowing that the dough would make an outstanding loaf of bread, I started experimenting with additions.  Next, I made a cheesy garlic onion bread that had excellent flavour but clearly showed the addition of cheese would require a few modifications.   Then I made a cheesy bread that my husband declared the best ever. 

no knead raisin bread
Finally, I made a loaf of raisin bread and two crusty rolls to use up the remainder of the cold fermented dough.  The dough will keep for up to 2 weeks in the refrigerator.  I expected the sourdough tang would increase the longer the dough was in the refrigerator.  It did increase but the tang peaked then leveled off by the third loaf of bread.  That was a bit disappointing but my goal of experimenting with the cold fermented dough was to create a good crusty bread with crisp, chewy crust and soft interior.  At the same time, because the sourdough tang levels off, the dough is a bit more versatile with respect to adding extra flavours.

Raisin bread has been a traditional family favourite since those early newlywed days.  I have made it so many times, the recipe is firmly engrained in my head.  One of the sites I visited while looking for ideas using both fermented doughs mentioned using the dough for raisin bread.  I cut off a piece of the cold fermented dough then flattened it on a floured board with my fingers, sprinkled with sugar cinnamon and raisins then rolled the dough jelly roll style the way I would when making my normal kneaded raisin bread.  Then I tucked the ends and continued forming the boule.  In theory, this should have resulted in the sugar and cinnamon forming a swirl effect in the cut slices.  I didn't slash the bread but in hind sight should have as it may have prevented the formation of the large empty cavity at the top of the loaf.  I baked the loaf in a covered enamel Dutch oven for 40 minutes at 425°F then removed the lid and baked for 5 minutes.

The raisin bread had a nice flavour and the inside texture was soft.  The crust was more crisp than crisp and chewy.  I will try making another loaf using the cold fermented dough to see if I can improve the results.  I will modify the method of incorporating the sugar, cinnamon and raisins into the dough but first I would like to make one loaf using the same jelly roll method but slash the top to see if that helps.  I'll report back on the results.

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