Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Sourdough Raisin and Sesame Breakfast Loaf

This bread is loaded with raisins 

This is an experiment based on a bread that I baked last winter. I actually remember that I was able to share this bread with my good friend Alex's father who is from California. He was visiting us in Columbus and has had considerable baking experience. I was glad that I was able to share this bread with him because it is, hands down, my favorite bread from Bread Alone by Daniel Leader. Many of the breads in the book leave a lot to be desired, but this bread is phenomenal. I give it an eleven out of a possible ten. I have been wanting to bake this bread again so I decided to go ahead and add a stiff levain component to the poolish-style preferment and I must admit, the addition of the sourdough starter improved what I initially thought to be a perfect bread. 
The poolish prepared with stiff levain starter

Typically, stiff levain builds are much denser than the one I used in this bread, but since the initial recipe went with a poolish, I stuck with that approach. However, instead of using yeast in the pre-ferment or in the final dough, I used 0.5 ounces of stiff levain starter. I have to note that because I have officially moved out of Ohio and into Massachusetts, my starter is going to change.The flavor will be much different and I am excited about this change. I also admit that I am a bit concerned that it may not be quite as good as my Columbus sourdough which I have grown so fond of over the past 24 months. I also must rebuild my liquid levain starter which I have run out of. Also, my stiff levain is getting very small and I think I will rebuild them this weekend so that I can start baking sourdough bread with my girlfriend who as of this weekend lives in Newton, Massachusetts.

Dough before the addition of the raisins.
This bread actually has a fair amount of whole wheat flour and I like to use King Arthur Flour for this bread rather than my home milled flour. It is much finer in consistency and it gives this bread a lighter crumb. I believe this is important because of the amount of raisins in this bread. For two medium loaves this bread uses one pound of raisins, 8 ounces per loaf. When you see the pictures, you will get a really good idea of what this really means. Each slice is loaded with raisins. I can not wait to make this bread with sultans which are golden raisins. Their additional tartness and sweetness, combined with the sourdough starter, will create a wonderful addition to this already remarkable bread. I am also glad that this bread does not contain cinnamon. I like cinnamon in certain things, but not in my bread unless its babka or cinnamon rolls. My girlfriend on the other hand loves cinnamon. I can't wait to try her famous pumpkin spice cupcakes. She is quite the little baker too.

Look at all the raisins in this one folks!
Another thing that adds flavor and texture to this bread is the use of sesame seeds. This bread contains 2.5 ounces of sesame seeds. You might not think that is a lot, but to be honest, it's enough to almost fill a 7" saute pan. The smell of them toasting is intoxicating. I simply love the flavor that they add to this bread. It is subtle, but I know that without them this bread would be much less exciting. Make sure you watch the seeds carefully when they are toasting because they can over-cook very quickly. I like to use un-hulled seeds because they add more flavor to the bread. Keep in mind that you can use hulled seeds if that is all you can find. Un-hulled seeds are darker in color, so they will be easier to see in the finished bread.

Another thing you will want to do is to bake this bread in a loaf pan. I received an awesome ten inch loaf pan as a gift so that is what I used for this bread. The ten inch pan does give the bread a lower profile, but I am still very happy with the results. You are going to want to be able to fit this bread in a toaster, because toasting really brings out the flavor of the sesame seeds. Reheating the oils really pronounces their addition to this bread. This bread is still awesome un-toasted, but I prefer it toasted.

This may sounds strange, but my absolute favorite thing to do with this bread is to make a grilled cheese with copious amounts of sharp cheddar cheese. The combination of the two flavors creates such a wonderful taste. The texture of the crumb toasted, combined with the moistness and sweetness of the raisins, is phenomenal. Dipping this in some of my fresh homemade tomato sauce made with fresh tomatoes from my Mom and Dad's garden is going to be so good!!!

The last thing I want to add is that I shared a slice of this bread with my dad, Steve last night (alias Clown-shoes). If my dad thinks that food is good he will say "yeah its good" or "alright". My dad is not very demonstrative and "Alright" is a compliment coming from him. However, in a very animated manner, my dad exclaimed "Man, this is AWESOME"!  So you know this is definitely a bread worth baking.
The finished loafs

Bake On

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