Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Heathly Winter Baking: Rosemary Raisin Bread

Decidedly Provencal Rosemary Raisin Bread, underway in the Pinch kitchen as I write, is one of my favorite things to bake in the winter months. Some years I gift loaves along with a jar of good apricot jam. A slice of this bread, toasted and slathered with apricot jam really hits the spot at tea time.

I'm not sure how far this year's loaves will travel. They freeze quite well, and slice easily when frozen. Hoarding is a natural consequence of this discovery. If you want some and don't feel like making it yourself, just show up on my doorstep at tea time (4pm Central).

One caveat - only use extra virgin olive oil here. Nothing else will cut it.

Rosemary Raisin Bread
Print recipe only here

Makes 2 loaves plus a smaller one

1 ½ cup plus 2 T warm water
1 ½ T yeast
>¼ cup plus 1 T sugar (divided)
1 ¼ cups extra virgin olive oil
3-5 sprigs rosemary (divided)
3 # flour (10 1/2 cups)
1 T salt
¼ cup sugar
6 eggs
3 yolks
8-12 ounces yellow raisins

Combine yeast, water and 1 tablespoon sugar in a small mixing bowl or measuring cup.

In a small saucepan, heat olive oil and 1 ½ sprigs rosemary until fragrant and crispy.

Remove pan from heat and allow to cool.

Sift together flour, salt and remaining ¼ cup sugar.

Whisk together eggs and egg yolks in a mixing bowl (preferably the bowl from a stand mixer), then strain olive oil into eggs and whisk well to combine.

Add the proofed yeast to the eggs and oil and mix well.

Add the flour mixture, yellow raisins and 1/4 cup finely chopped fresh rosemary to the mixing bowl and mix using dough hook. When it comes together, turn out onto floured work surface and knead until smooth.

Place in an oiled bowl (use the same olive oil), turning it to coat the top of the dough. Cover the bowl well with plastic wrap and allow to rise until doubled.

Punch down, knead, and portion into two loaves, each weighing about 2.5 pounds. You will have a small amount leftover - this recipe yields 2 full size loaves and one much smaller one. I usually bake the extra one as a small round loaf on a flat baking sheet.

Kneed each dough ball into a smooth, oblong shape and place in a regular loaf pan (mine measure 9x5x3 on the outside) sprayed with baking release and cover with plastic. Allow to rise again until nicely rounded above the rim of the loaf pan. Don't skimp on this rise. If you do the loaves will rise too quickly in the oven and burst at the sides - bread's version of stretch-marks.

Brush the tops of the loaves with egg wash, score and bake in a preheated 350° oven for about 20-30 minutes. Loaves are done when the bottom sounds hollow when tapped. Allow to cool.

To serve, slice with a serrated knife and serve, toasted or not, with apricot jam. The bread freezes well - just wrap tightly with plastic wrap.

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