Thursday, 8 December 2011

Walnut and Raisin Loaf

Recipe Number One Hundred & Twenty Eight:  Page 292

This walnut and raisin loaf won the vote on my Facebook Poll this week by quite a margin. I have to admit that bread comes as a welcome change from cakes. All of this cake eating is of course wonderful, but there's no escaping the side effects. My clothes are starting to feel a tad tight, so I was pleased to make some bread and have a cake free day. This particular loaf appears to be rather healthy as it contains wholemeal flour, nuts and dried fruit; it sounds perfectly virtuous!

Before I made a start on the bread my little boy decided that a trip to the swings was in order. I'm expected to take him in all weather conditions, although I do draw the line at torrential rain! Thankfully, on this occasion there was not a cloud in the sky, but my goodness it was windy. Isaac certainly lifted a little higher on the swings. By the time we returned home I looked as though I'd put my finger in a light socket – not a pretty sight! I was happy to head to the warmth of the kitchen and make up a comforting loaf of bread. The thought of tucking into a slice (more likely two) with an afternoon cup of tea spurred me on. Isaac had thoughtfully laid out an assault course for me to liven up my baking. I kept stubbing my toe on tins of chopped tomatoes and baked beans!!

First of all, I had to put an equal amount of white and wholemeal bread flour into my largest mixing bowl. To sweeten the bread, I tipped in a tablespoon of muscovado sugar. The last dry ingredient needed was a little ground cinnamon which smelt wonderful; is there a more comforting smell? Now to add a little melted butter and warm water. I was just about to mix everything together when I realised that I hadn't added the yeast – what a disaster that would have been! I quickly located a sachet and added it to the runny mixture. I did worry that I had perhaps added too much water. However, after stirring it all together, it turned out that it was a bit on the dry side if anything! Mary says it should be a fairly sticky dough. I was tempted to add a touch more water but I resisted as I thought that I would probably make matters worse. When I tipped the dough out onto the worktop it was so easy to work with; the five minutes of kneading whizzed by. I popped the by now smooth and elastic dough into a bowl and covered it with cling film. It was rather chilly in the house but thankfully the sun was shining, so I placed my bowl of dough on a window sill for the recommended hour and a half. When the time was up, I was glad to see that it had risen well and was at least double its original size.

Walnuts and raisins are in the recipe title; now it was time to make use of them. I didn't bother to chop the walnuts. They are a fairly soft nut so I was able to break them up with my fingers. I think it was quicker this way; even if not, it was more fun! I flattened the ball of dough out onto the worktop and pressed in the nuts. It was a bit of a balancing act as they kept rolling off! I weighed out the raisins and pushed them on top of the nuts. I kneaded the dough as best I could with all its added lumps and bumps. It took a while to work everything together. I rolled the dough rather haphazardly into two sausage shapes. I couldn't help but notice that one was MUCH larger than the other. I never thought the day would come, but I weighed each piece of dough!! I obviously have a dreadful eye. No wonder I never win games such as guess the weight of a jar of sweets. There was over a 100 g difference between the two – I know, it's shocking!! I readjusted my two lumps of dough and re-rolled them in a sausage fashion once again. I placed them onto a lined baking tray and tucked it into a ‘bag for life’ carrier bag - they have many uses. I then left them to rise on the baking tray for another 40 minutes or so. I of course forgot all about my loaves. It was over an hour before I remembered and jumped to attention! They had risen beautifully. I brushed over some beaten egg for a glaze and put the tray into the oven for around 20 minutes. The smell of baking bread is always amazing; add in cinnamon and it's intoxicating. The loaves looked wonderful once cooked and were a lovely golden brown; I couldn't wait to cut a slice. Once I was able to touch the bread without scalding my hand, I cut a doorstep wedge from one of the loaves and took a bite. It was rather yummy! I could really taste the cinnamon and raisins. I was surprised that Mary says it's a savoury bread as I thought it to be quite sweet. I could certainly taste the walnuts but they were more a background flavour. Of course their crunch was much in evidence! The texture of the bread wasn't heavy but I wouldn't describe it as light either, I expect this is due to using both white and wholemeal bread flour. The texture fitted in well with the cinnamon and raisins. Neil absolutely loved this bread. Every time I looked at him that evening he seemed to be eating it!

I'm not sure that having bread instead of cake really made much difference to my waistline as I smothered each slice with butter – whoops!!
Yummy bread hot from the oven!


2 comments:

  1. I was thinking of making that, but it's so hard since I got alot of essays from uni! But will try it, it looks amazing. Wow Anneliese you are really talented, you should open a bakery, you are gifted :)

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  2. Thank you so much for your kinds words Julieta - you're such a sweetheart :-) It was pretty easy to make and didn't take too long. As you're so busy maybe leave it till over the Christmas break. Hopefully you'll be able to relax and do lots of baking then!

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