Saturday, September 12, 2009

Raisin-Rosemary Rye Bread...

It had been way too long since I put my hands to work kneading a stretchy ball of bread dough, so even though it was the weekend, I set the alarm last night so I'd get an early start on this Raisin-Rosemary Rye Bread I made today.

Besides being attracted to the rye (I have a bunch in the freezer I need to make a dent in!), what I liked about this recipe when I was picking through my choices was how it used a variety of dry ingredients - sturdy bread flour, whole-wheat flour, the rye flour and for a bit of texture, cornmeal! Mixing those together with instant yeast, sugar, nonfat dry milk, salt and freshly ground black pepper (that may seem odd, but don't leave it out!), the dough was formed by mixing in plenty of warmed water mixed with a few drops of olive oil.

I use instant yeast (kept in the freezer to extend freshness) just for the fact it doesn't need to be proofed first. If you'd rather use active-dry, use the same amount called for (which is conveniently the same amount that comes in one of those handy packets), but instead of mixing the yeast with the dry ingredients, dissolve it into the water, along with the sugar called for, and let it stand for 5 to 10 minutes.

Because you'll be holding back on some of the bread flour, the dough will be on the stickier side right away - this is exactly what you want because it is much easier to add more flour if needed, than to try and knead in water. Add enough extra flour to keep the dough from sticking to your fingers, but not enough to make it dry - it should feel just tacky to the touch and feel like it wants to grip your work surface. Once the dough is elastic and supple, the time has come to work in the fun ingredients - toasted walnuts, raisins and just because Jeff loves it in rye bread, a pinch of caraway seed.

The dough now needed to rise - depending on the temperature in your house, it should take about an hour to double in bulk. If your house is exceptionally cool, keep in mind that it may take longer. You could speed up the process by placing the covered dough into an oven (left turned off!) with the oven light lit to raise the temperature enough - however, with a slower rise, more flavor is allowed to develop! Instead of shaping this into a loaf, after letting some of the air out from the risen dough, we re-shaped the ball into a tight round and set it into a pie plate to rise once more. This time it should rise a bit faster, usually 15 minutes, depending on how active the yeast has gotten.

During this time, make sure you get the oven on to give it plenty of time to come up to temperature - you want a very warm, even heat for bread! Just before placing the dough into the oven, to give it room to grow, a sharp knife is used to make a few slashes on top - you can do a large X or a few parallel lines, but we tried a diamond shape (which I apparently still need to work on... hee hee!). You can take the temperature of the bread to check for doneness if you like (it should read around 190 to 200 degrees), or just use your hand to tap on the bottom - you should hear a hollow thump.

As with most breads, for the best texture (and yes, I know just how hard it is to resist warm, fresh baked bread!) you should really let it rest and cool for at least an hour before slicing into it. I don't always follow this, but I try! The rye flavor was there, and was bolstered by the caraway, but it wasn't as prominent as Jeff or I would have preferred - maybe up the rye and decrease the whole-wheat next time?. The sweetness coming from the raisins was a delightful contrast to the more savory rosemary, while the walnuts injected an engaging nutty crunch. Tasty enough by itself, but sent through the toaster made the hearty slices sing, especially with a pat of butter smoothed over the top!


  1. I am so in awe of anyone who can make bread!


  2. Hey Joe,
    I saw your name mentioned in the Costco Connection! Way to go!

  3. Quinn - Get your hands dirty and give a few recipes a try!

    Bridget - I got my copy the other day... fun stuff! Thanks!