Sunday, June 3, 2012

Homemade raisin bread

Over the last few months, we have been working our way through the River Cottage Everyday series. I think this was broadcast on the ABC some time ago, but our TV viewing is done entirely through a digital recorder and is almost always many months behind.

Whenever it was shown, this series has become one of my favourites, with each episode focusing on a meal such as breakfast or lunch, or a food group such as fruit, vegetables or bread. The whole River Cottage philosophy is one that I love, with Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall focusing on real, whole foods, grown ethically and sustainably, and served in season. The Everyday series had the aim of drawing people back to everyday foods in an easy but whole-food way.

Last week, we watched the 'bread' episode of the series. I think it is no coincidence that today I spent some time in the kitchen making this.


Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall has some influence.

This is a recipe that requires a bit of advance planning, but the actual preparation time (as opposed to rising / cooking time) isn't huge. It also yields results that are well worth the time put in.


All in all, just perfect for a Sunday with few fixed commitments.


Homemade raisin bread

Makes 2 loaves - I put one straight in the freezer.
Requires some advance planning, but can easily be fit around other things.
Inspired by High Fearnley-Whittingstall's River Cottage Everyday episode on bread.


Ingredients
400g strong white baker's flour
300g wholemeal flour
10g salt
1 sachet (7g) instant yeast
450ml warm water
2 tsp mixed spice
150g (1 generous cup) sultanas (or currants, or raisins)
Optional: 1 - 2 tsp sugar (I didn't do this but it would make the product more like a commercial fruit bread)

Plain flour, extra, for dusting


Method
Put the flours, salt and yeast into a mixing bowl. Pour in the warm water and mix to a dough. Turn out on to a floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic, about 5 - 10 minutes.

Put the dough into a large mixing bowl that has been sprayed with oil spray. Cover with a damp tea towel and leave in a warm place for 1.5 - 2 hours, until risen to approximately double the original size.

Turn the dough onto a floured surface and knead again, knocking out the air, for about 5 minutes. Knead in the sultanas and spice then divide into two loaves.

Place the loaves on baking trays lined with baking paper, cover, and leave for a further 1 - 1.5 hours, until risen to approximately double their original size.

While the loaves are rising, preheat the oven to 190'C. When risen, bake the loaves for 30 - 35 minutes, until slightly golden and they sound hollow when tapped on the bottom.

After initial rising

Before second rising

After second rising

This wasn't as sweet as supermarket raisin bread - thus my note about the optional sugar - but it was immeasurably more rewarding to eat. The crust was crustier and the interior 'rougher' (I mean that in a good way), giving a fresh, slightly chewy bread that is studded with bursts of sultana sweetness.


Delicious plain, paired with a cup of tea, or spread with jam.

And as a bonus, there is that second loaf in the freezer for weeks when I can't spare hours for the kitchen.

I know many bloggers out there routinely make their own bread - are you in that category? Do you have a favourite type to bake?

27 comments:

  1. Your raisin bread looks really nice, I do love some raisin toast every so often. What a great bonus to have another loaf tucked away! My bread baking is very sporadic and I don't really make the same types of bread apart from calzone/pizza dough.

    I recorded and watched some of River Cottage years ago but I can't remember which series it was. I never watched the episodes in their entirety as there used to be a segment on butchering that I would always fast forward.

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    1. Ah yes, I had to avert my eyes for some of those episodes that covered lots of things! Fortunately with this series, they only did one food group at a time, and we just skipped over the meat-related ones. They do seem to be very graphic with the butchering side of things!

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  2. I love raisin bread but don't seem to have it at home that often because I have become fussy and love sturdy sourdough loaves. My favourite bread is olive oil bread - though I have been trying some oats in my bread lately. I love putting chia seeds into my loaves - made some bread today and remembered to put in chia seeds and it was lovely. Definitely bread baking weather!

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    1. I did wish, after reading your latest post, that I had made some honey and oat bread too - and now I want chia seeds - so it seems I may be on the start of a bit of a bread kick! (Either that or my motivation will run out in a hurry and we won't get any more until next year :P )

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  3. I love raisin bread too but don't make it very often because I end up eating the whole thing. :)

    Your bread looks great.

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    1. I must say, not eating the whole loaf has been a bit of a challenge. It's probably for the best that I put one loaf straight in the freezer!

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  4. I read another blog earlier today that had just done a cooking course at this chef's country residence. It had just burnt down so the cooking school was housed in a new luxury tent complete with chandeliers. I haven't seen any of his TV series episodes and feel like I absolutely must as so many bloggers are raving about them. That's a lovely looking raisin bread and I'm glad it's not as sweet as the bread you buy in the shops - unnecessarily sweet if you ask me! xx

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    1. Oh gosh, what a shame about the fire! Although they do sound like some very luxurious tents... I hope you find some of the episodes as they really are worth watching and you might get enjoyment out of the meat components that go over my head - he is not at all vegetarian!

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  5. Yummy I like very much the bread in raisins :)

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  6. I love River Cottage, it always gives me such fresh new ideas for food. I don't bake bread very often - but my dad does!

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    1. That is something worth cultivating in your Dad, I would say! The new and fresh ideas for food is one of the things I like best about River Cottage, it always leaves me feeling inspired :)

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  7. Very cool - would be great for breakfast with some coffee!

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    1. It would! It is also very good for snacking on with coffee :D

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  8. wow! perfect looking bread! I love this idea of adding raisins!

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    1. Thank you - the raisins really make the bread :)

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  9. I haven't made bread in ages, it is on my list, just never quite happens. I do love the River Cottage series though - although I never remember when it is on so only occassionally am lucky enough to stumble over it.

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    1. I would have no hope without Mr B's recording skills! Thank goodness he did record it as it would have passed me by otherwise.

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  10. Oh dear heavens that rising dough is looking at me.

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    1. Bahahaha...it is, it really is :P

      The funniest thing? My camera thought so too as I had it on 'intelligent auto' and it defaulted to portrait and thought the bread was a face. So you have a like-minded buddy in my camera!

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    2. Do Cylon's like chocolate? :)

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  11. Ooh, coincedence: I made raisin & cinnamon bread a few days ago. Mine was probably a bit sweeter than yours, but home made bread is about 400% better than store bought.

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    1. That it is :) I did wish I'd included more cinnamon in this actually - so am interested to hear of your creation! I think in future I would up the spice, just to make it a bit more interesting.

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  12. I haven't watched nearly enough of any of the river cottage series. I always really enjoy the bits I finally do see though (like you, waaay later than when it actually screened.)
    This bread looks lovely and perfect for a sunday afternoon. Now sourdough... you tempted yet? :-)

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    1. I am :-) Very, in fact - so much so that I have been musing over your recipes and pondering when to jump in with trying out a starter!

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  13. okay i ADORE cinnamon raisin bread so this title had me right away. :) i actually like cinn. raisin english muffins and eat those every day! that said i think u kno by now my status as far as making homemade bread...lol. nope, but i can eat it while u make it for me. :)

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