After baking bread more and less steadily over the past few years, one thing that I've learned (and relearned): bread is forgiving. It's not usually difficult, and it rarely requires much hands-on work, but there is a fair amount of time waiting for the yeast to do its work raising the dough. This process can be manipulated, and a simple bread can be baked in increments over a day or two rather than in one long session.
Such was this case with this bread in my kitchen. It was kind of a busy day when I tackled this bread, and and the process of making it took me from 10am in the morning to 1am the next morning. It became an exercise in me waiting for the dough and the dough waiting for me!
- I made full recipe of this bread. Peter Reinhart's Bread Baker's Apprentice has three different variations of White Loaf Bread. I baked Variation 3 first because I had milk on hand that I needed to use up. [I later baked Variation 2, using buttermilk, but have skipped Variation 1, which calls for powdered milk. At some point I might revisit that formula]
- This recipe starts with a sponge of warm milk, flour, and yeast. My sponge was a bit stiff, so I probably should have added more liquid. It never bubbled but it did swell. After more than an hour, I added the other bread ingredients, mixing the dough first in the food processor and then finishing kneading it by hand. It was looking as though the dough would need some more liquid, but when I added the fat to the recipe - I melted the butter so it would be liquid - the dough was perfect in texture.
- My schedule didn't permit me to continue with the bread in one continuous session, so I put the dough in a rising bucket and straight into my fridge. The dough was warm, and it rose as it cooled in the fridge - when I checked on it later I saw that it had nearly doubled!
- I deflated it the dough intentionally and let it warm to room temperature and rise as it warmed. Once the dough had doubled, I divided it then formed the loaves, placed it into bread pans and parked them back in the fridge while I attended a meeting.
- There really wasn't that much dough. I weighed it, and a full recipe of
the bread - supposed to be 2 loaves - weighed just a bit more than the
weight of one loaf in my standby Milk Bread recipe, so I measured out the
amount of dough that goes into the typical milk loaf - 450g, and placed
in a smallish loaf pan (the size I use for the milk loaf usually - it's about 7x3"). The remainder - about 575 g, went into the
- After the meeting I pulled the pans out of the fridge, let it warm and rise. I could have left the bread refrigerated overnight and baked the next morning. Retarding the dough helps develop the flavor, so baking in an interrupted fashion always has a silver lining!
- Before popping the bread into the oven, I slashed the tops with the lame and rubbed some oil into the slash.
- Even with adjusting my pan sizes, the loaves were still pretty petite. Next time I'd bake this recipe as one loaf in one larger (9x5) pan, or as sandwich rolls.
The bread had a close crumb, moist, soft, and golden. It was sweet and eggy in flavor. We used it for toast, but I think it's better suited for sandwiches, either in loaf or in roll form.
Nick Malgieri has released a recipe for Old Fashioned Raisin Bread as a foretaste of his upcoming bread book (it is called BREAD, and will be released in September.) My baking friend Phyl is a friend of Nick's, so with just two degrees of separation you could pretty much say that Nick and I are buddies!
Over the weekend Phyl decided to bake the raisin bread and the recipe looked so appealing, I decided to join him in the kitchen, virtually that is, since Phyl is in Ohio and I was in California. It turned out to be a regular bread-fest, as Kayte in Indiana also baked the bread. Because of schedule constraints I had to retard mine in the fridge between rises so the other two bakers had each baked, sliced, photographed, consumed, and blogged their loaves before mine even made it into the oven! You can read about Phyl's bread here and Kayte's bread here.
- I made half a batch - one loaf - in my long thin loaf pan. Everything was exactly per the recipe, except that I mixed and kneaded the dough completely by hand.
- This is an easy one day bread, using the direct method of mixing, rising, shaping, rising, baking.
- I love that the recipe calls for two kinds of raisins (or currants). I reduced the quantity of raisins just a bit, and there were still lots of raisins in each slice of bread. Most of the slices had more raisins than the ones in the picture, actually.
This is a lovely bread, with a soft crumb and, and little pops of sweetness from the two kinds of raisins. Although I was tempted to put a cinnamon swirl into this loaf, it really is nice just as a plain raisin loaf, especially toasted with a slick of salted butter.
We had the toast for dessert after dinner and it was the perfect ending to a meal. My husband couldn't stop exclaiming over this bread, which left me wishing I had made the full recipe!
I'm submitting this bread to Yeastspotting, a weekly roundup of all things deliciously yeasty. Click over there to see what's baking in ovens around the world; new posts go up each Friday.