It’s been almost 2 months since my last post, but I had a good reason. Total knee replacement on February 13 put a brake on activity for a while. I didn’t even make a grocery run for several weeks and have to say I didn’t miss it. My husband, bless his heart, took over the food responsibilities for a while, doing his best to find all those goofy things on my grocery list. While I’m still eagerly waiting for that spring walk — where is spring anyway? — the knee is doing better than expected and I have high expectations for normal mobility.
This is an easy bread to make that looks more impressive than it deserves. The only extra step you should take is toasting the walnuts. It’s not necessary but gives the nuts a sweet depth of flavor. It’s best to chop them after toasting so you don’t end up with tiny pieces that burn easily.
I don’t usually plump the raisins because it tends to make them break up in the mixer. That’s not necessarily a bad thing because it distributes the raisin taste throughout the dough, but some people might find the dark raisin streaks unappetizing. Actually there were customers who preferred it because they thought it improved the flavor. To plump raisins, measure out the amount called for in the recipe and cover with boiling water for about 20 minutes. Drain well and save the water to use in the dough. Allow raisins to cool before adding to the dough.
This bread makes wonderful toast of course. Be sure to try it with cream cheese instead of butter, maybe even a little jam on top of the cream cheese. If you like French toast, you’ll find it redefines the whole idea.
– Joan, 6 April 2018
Walnut Raisin Bread
- 7 tablespoons (95 grams) warm water
- 7 tablespoons (95 grams) warm milk or buttermilk
- 2 tablespoons (42 grams) honey
- 2 tablespoons (28 grams) melted butter
- 1¼ cups (150-165 grams) bread flour
- 1¼ cups (150-165 grams) whole wheat or spelt flour
- 1 teaspoon instant yeast
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ½ cup (75 grams) raisins
- ½ cup (55 grams) walnuts, toasted and coarsely chopped
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
Mix the water, milk or buttermilk, honey, and melted butter in the bowl of a standing mixer till blended. In another bowl, mix together the rest of the ingredients, then add to the mixer bowl. Run the mixer on slow till everything is together, then switch to medium speed and knead for a couple of minutes. The dough should come together and clean the bowl but still will feel soft if you feel it. If it seems crumbly and dry, add more warm water a tablespoon at a time. Once the texture is right, knead at medium speed about 5 minutes. Remove dough from the bowl, oil the bowl, replace the dough and cover. Turn and fold at two 20-minute intervals, then allow it to rise till almost double, about 1-2 hours. Form into a boule, being careful not to deflate, place on a greased cookie sheet, cover and let rise again, till a finger poked into the side leaves an indent and doesn’t spring back immediately. This should take anywhere from 45 minutes to over an hour.
Preheat oven to 350°F. Bake proofed loaf for 30-40 minutes. Cool completely before cutting or storing.