February 7, 2011

Raisin Bread

Lately I've been having a lot of fun with bread, especially recreating familiar breads but using wild yeast starter, or sourdough starter, as the primary leavening. Le Gibassier was so tasty it didn't last nearly long enough, so I was "forced" to make another breakfast bread. I thought raisin bread sounded like a winner, especially because I could make two loaves at once and put one in the freezer.

If you want to make this bread, you'll need some wild yeast starter. You can make two loaves, as I did, or some rolls, or do some math and halve the recipe if you only have one loaf pan. Yes, I weigh everything, including the water and buttermilk.

Raisin Bread
200 g unbleached flour
50 g wild yeast mother
125 g lukewarm spring water

375 g starter (all of it)
600 g unbleached flour
17 g salt
86 g sugar
1 g active dry yeast (instant yeast will work fine)
380 g cultured buttermilk, room temperature
60 g unsalted butter, melted
70 g raisins
cinnamon sugar to taste (optional)

Day 1. Begin by making the starter. Mix the mother and water until the mother is softened, then add the flour. Mix by hand or with the dough hook on your stand mixer until a dough forms. Put into a lightly oiled bowl, cover with plastic wrap, then let sit at room temperature overnight, or 12-18 hours. Alternatively, let sit at room temperature for 4-6 hours, then refrigerate up to three days.

Weigh the raisins to make sure you have enough. Feel free to add more if you wish. Make a simple syrup (equal parts sugar and water, bring to a boil, let cool) and soak the raisins in the simple syrup overnight. A bit of liqueur can't hurt anything either.

Day 2. Measure out and mix the dry ingredients. Bring the liquids to room temperature and add to the starter. Mix to soften, then add the dry ingredients. Mix with wet hands or the dough hook on your stand mixer until a dough forms. It may be slightly shaggy, but that's alright. If the dough doesn't quite come together, re-wet your hands a time or two, or mist the dough lightly with spring water. Once the dough comes together, let rest for five minutes or so to allow the flour to hydrate.

Drain the raisins and add to the bowl. Knead the dough in the bowl until it is no longer sticky, then turn out onto a work surface and knead several more minutes. When the dough feels rather stiff and difficult to knead, it's ready. Form into a ball and place in a lightly oiled bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and let rise 2-4 hours, until about 1½ times the original size.

Gently turn the dough out onto the work surface. Using wet hands, form the dough into a torpedo, then flatten into a rectangle. If the dough resists, let it rest a few minutes. Once it's nicely flattened to about ½" thick, generously spread cinnamon sugar on the surface, then roll as tightly as possible, forming a long roll. Cut in half and pinch the cut ends together to hold the sugar inside. Press the seam tightly, then place each half into a lightly oiled loaf pan, seam side down. Spray with oil, then lightly cover with plastic and allow to proof for 2-3 hours. The loaves will not rise significantly, but should be 1¼-1½ times the original size.

About 30 minutes before baking, preheat your oven to 500°F. Put the loaves into the oven and reduce the temperature to 450°. Bake 12 minutes, then rotate the loafs. Continue baking another 24 minutes. Remove the pans from the oven to a cooling rack and allow to cool about five minutes before turning the loafs out to cool on their own.

If you can stand to wait, let the loaves cool overnight. Freeze one loaf and enjoy the other! You'll find that this loaf is denser than the usual raisin bread, and has a much more complex flavor due to the wild yeast and slow leavening.

(Submitted to Yeastspotting)


  1. I am amazed by how perfect your bread turns out!

  2. I love raisin bread! I've never worked with wild yeast mother before but you have convinved me to look for some at the stores! Some planning is in order! The bread looks fantastic!! (I just wish I could smell the bread from here!)

  3. The more bread you make the better it comes out. I make bread 2 or 3
    times a week. It starts to add up.

  4. I expected more sourdough flavor but the sweeteners countered that.
    The wild yeast does make for deeper, richer flavor though.

  5. Mmmm, this bread looks wonderful. I haven't made raisin bread is a very long time. Yours looks wonderful!

  6. This is the kind of recipe that makes breakfast worth getting up for! Delicious! Also, really appreciate the clarity and precision of your instructions. Thanks!

  7. This raisin bread looks delicious! I'm loving all your bread recipes lately. Yum!

  8. I have not been brave enough to try sourdough yet. What a gorgeous loaf of bread.

  9. Sourdough is easy but slow. I'll post step-by-step instructions for
    creating a sourdough mother on Tuesday.

  10. This bread sounds fantastic! The perfect accompaniment to breakfast!

  11. I LOVE this bread .I am sure the good taste bread really need the time to waste.