I first ate a version of this bread from Whole Foods, toasted with some soft goat cheese, and I fell completely in love. For a long time, I assumed it couldn’t be improved upon; of course, I was wrong. Freshly milled flour and hand-kneaded dough raise this bread up to an entirely new level of deliciousness. This makes a great breakfast bread with any kind of soft cheese, and sliced on the diagonal and lightly toasted, it is perfect as an accompaniment to a cheese board.
Although I used 300g unmilled wheat, you can absolutely use storebought whole wheat flour for this recipe. If you do use purchased whole wheat flour, you may need to add more water to the dough, because freshly milled wheat has a higher moisture content than packaged flour.
I used a little bleached bread flour in this recipe, but you can leave it out. To be honest, I only used it because I was trying to get rid of it! You can just use half whole wheat flour and half all purpose flour – I’ve made it that way and it is delicious.
Don’t be tempted to leave out the walnuts. They make this bread!
First, grind the flour. Measure out your bread flour and all purpose flour.
You can use any kind of raisins you like; Zante currants work really well here too. If you have champagne raisins, they’d be great in this bread. Golden raisins would also work beautifully.
Heat some water in a tea kettle and pour it over the raisins. I had some errands to do and let mine sit in the water for well over an hour. You really don’t need to let it sit that long, but give it at least 20 minutes. This will partially rehydrate the raisins, making them much more juicy in the finished bread. Don’t skip this step!
Measure out the walnuts and crush them lightly.
Walnuts are brittle; rather than crushing them in a food processor or chopper, either use a mortar and pestle, or just break them between your fingers.
Start with moderately hot water in a large bowl. Sprinkle yeast and sugar over the water and let it sit for ten minutes. If it doesn’t foam, throw it away and start over. You don’t want to go any further if the yeast isn’t going to cooperate.
Stir in about half of the three kinds of flours with a wooden spoon.
When well combined, sprinkle on the salt and combine.
Strain the water out of the raisins, and combine them in the bowl with the bread flour. If you aren’t using bread flour, put a few tablespoons of all purpose flour in the bowl with the strained raisins.
Stir the raisins and flour together until the raisins are coated. This will prevent the raisins from sticking to each other, helping them combine into the rest of the dough more easily.
Add the raisins and the walnuts to the mixing bowl and stir in well.
Add the rest of the flours and stir.
Continue stirring until everything is well combined.
When the dough can’t be stirred any longer, flour your surface and turn out your dough.
This dough needs to be kneaded a full ten minutes. If you need a refresher course on kneading, consult my tutorial here. Compared to a standard French bread, this is a more challenging dough. The raisins will release some of their moisture, which keeps the dough sticky. The walnut pieces can interfere with the smooth texture of the dough. It will take longer for the dough to come together, but be patient and it will.
Oil the same mixing bowl and the dough.
Cover with plastic wrap and a kitchen towel.
When the dough has doubled in size, turn it out onto a baking sheet or a piece of wax paper.
Press out the air with your fingers and cut the dough into as many pieces as you want. I chose to do small rectangular loaves, so I cut the dough into ten pieces. Dust a baking sheet with cornmeal.
Form the loaves and set them on the baking sheet.
Allow the dough to rise a second time, for an hour, uncovered. Preheat your oven to 250 degrees Celsius, using the air (convection) setting.
Separate an egg. Put a tablespoon of water into the white of the egg and beat together. Brush the loaves with the egg white.
Bake for 5 minutes at 250 degrees, then remove the baking sheet. Move the loaves a little on the sheet to be sure they aren’t sticking. Return to the oven and reduce the heat to 220 degrees. Bake for another 5-10 minutes. If you’ve made large loaves, you’ll want to extend the baking time by several minutes.
Tap on the bottom of the loaves. If they sound hollow, they’re done. If not, let them bake a few more minutes before tapping again. Cool on a rack for an hour before serving.
Raisin-Walnut Whole Wheat Bread
Makes 10 mini loaves
300g unmilled wheat
320g all purpose flour + more for dusting
80g bread flour
375mL hot water (or more or less depending on your flour)
120g raisins, any type
2.5 tsp active dry yeast (1 packet)
2 tsp granulated white sugar
2.5 tsp table salt
cornmeal for dusting
1 egg white
1. Soak raisins in hot water for 30 minutes to an hour.
2. Mill wheat on a fine grind.
3. Crush walnuts with a mortar and pestle or by hand.
4. Proof yeast: put approx. 375mL hot water in a large bowl. Sprinkle yeast and sugar over top. Allow to sit for 10 minutes until foamy. If it doesn’t foam, throw it all away and start over with fresh yeast.
5. Stir half of all flours into yeast mixture with a wooden spoon.
6. Sprinkle salt onto flour mixture. Stir well.
7. Strain water from raisins. Combine raisins with remaining bread flour and stir so that raisins are covered in flour.
8. Add walnut pieces and flour-covered raisins to flour mixture. Stir well to combine.
9. Stir in remaining flour. When flour cannot be stirred any longer, turn out onto floured surface and knead for a full ten minutes.
10. Oil mixing bowl and top of dough. Place dough in bowl and cover with plastic wrap and a kitchen towel. Allow to sit at room temperature for 90 minutes, or in a warm environment for 45 minutes, until doubled in size.
11. Place dough on baking sheet or wax paper. Cut into ten equal pieces. Form loaves.
12. Dust baking sheet with cornmeal. Place loaves on baking sheet. Allow to rest 45 minutes uncovered. Preheat oven (air setting) to 250 degrees C.
13. Beat egg white with 1 tbsp water and brush loaves with egg white mixture. Bake 5 minutes at 250 degrees. Remove baking sheet and move loaves to prevent sticking. Replace in oven and reduce heat to 220 degrees. Bake another 5-10 minutes until hollow-sounding when tapped on the bottom.
14. Cool on a drying rack for an hour before serving.
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