I'm afraid of bread making or specifically anything that uses yeast.
There I came clean. Yep, using yeast scares me, maybe because I just don't feel comfortable with the whole poofing process and the kneading and if I have to take out the rolling pin and measure to get everything perfectly square or rectangular or round... I just break out in hives.
So of course when I saw the choice for Tuesday with Dorie, that Susan of Food.baby had chosen I said a little prayer and then had a bit doubts which turned into a full blown conversation with my bad-ass self telling me to get a grip and reminded me that "I did no join a baking club to sit and do the baking that I'm comfortable doing!"
So of course I had to do this. Be one with the yeast and conquer my fears.
And conquer I did with this Raisin Swirl Bread. The recipe is pretty simple and straight forward. I did not change anything except that I did soak my raisins in rum before I used them. It gave them a whole other dimension, I also add the nutmeg (because it one of my favorite spice) and again, I believe that it deepen the flavor of the cocoa powder and cinnamon.
Since this was my first time actually baking bread, I think I was extra careful in following all of the steps, and it may have helped me on my beginners luck. Everything happen the way it said it would. The dough came together pretty fast and after sitting in a warm corner double the way it was suppose to, then when I put it in the freezer (which I think its such a great tip!) and the rolling out was effortless.
Yep, totally beginners luck I say.
But the best part of this recipe is the AMAZING smell of freshly baked bread in your house. TOTALLY WORTH IT. So is the suggestions of toasting the bread and spreading it with good thick layer of jam... or in my case Nutella.
Now go, hurry, go prepare some yeast and make this bread.
Raisin Swirl Bread - Baking: From My Home to Yours
For the bread:
1 packet active dry yeast
1/4 cup sugar, plus a pinch
1 1/4 cups just-warm-to-the-touch whole milk
1/2 stick (4 tablespoons or 60g) unsalted butter, at room temperature
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 large egg
1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract (optional)
Grated zest of 1/2 orange (optional)
Pinch of freshly grated nutmeg (optional)
3 3/4 to 4 cups all-purpose (plain) flour
For the swirl:
1 tablespoon sugar
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
2 teaspoons unsweetened cocoa powder (optional)
1 cup moist, plump raisins (dark or golden)
3 tablespoons (45 grams) unsalted butter, softened to a spreadable consistency
To make the bread: Put the yeast in a small bowl, toss in the pinch of sugar and stir in 1/4 cup of the warm milk. Let rest for 3 minutes, then stir - the yeast may not have dissolved completely and it may not have bubbled, but it should be soft.
Working with a stand mixer, preferably fitted with a paddle attachment, combine the remaining 1 cup of milk, the butter and the remaining 1/4 cup sugar and mix for a minute or two. Add the salt, egg and vanilla, if you are using it, as well as the zest and nutmeg, if you're using them, and mix for a minute. In all likelihood, the mixture will look unpleasantly curdly (it will look even worse when you add the yeast). Add the yeast mixture and beat on low-medium speed for 1 minute more.
Turn the mixer off and add 2 3/4 cups of the flour. Mix on low speed just until you work the flour into the liquids - you'll have a sticky mix. If you've got a dough hook, switch to it now. Add another 1 cup of flour, increase the mixer speed to medium and beat the dough for a couple of minutes. If the dough does not come together and almost clean the sides of the bowl, add up to 1/4 cup more flour, 1 tablespoon at a time. Keep the mixer speed at medium and knead the dough for about 3 minutes, or until it is smooth and has a lovely buttery sheen. The dough will be very soft, much too soft to knead by hand.
Butter a large bowl, turn the dough into a bowl and cover the bowl tightly with plastic wrap. Put the bowl in a warm place and let the dough rise until it is doubled in size, about 1 1/2 hours.
Scrape the dough onto a large piece of plastic wrap, wrap it and put it in the freezer for 30 minutes to firm enough to be rolled easily. (At this point, you can instead refrigerate the dough overnight if that is more convenient).
To make the swirl and shape the loaf: Butter a 9 x 5 inch loaf pan.
Whisk together the sugar, cinnamon and cocoa, if you're using it. Check that the raisins are nice and moist; if they're not, steam them for a minute, then dry them well.
Put the dough on a large work surface lightly dusted with flour, lightly dust the top of the dough and roll the dough into a rectangle about 12 x 18 inches.
Gently smear 2 tablespoons of the butter over the surface of the dough - this is most easily done with your fingers. Sprinkle over the sugar mixture and scatter over the raisins. Starting from a short side of the dough, roll the dough up jelly-roll fashion, making sure to roll the dough snugly. Fit the dough into the buttered pan, seam side down, and tuck the ends under the loaf.
Cover the pan loosely with wax paper and set in a warm place; let the dough rise until it comes just a little above the edges of the pan, about 45 minutes.
Getting ready to bake: When the dough has almost fully risen, centre a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees Celsius). Line a baking sheet with parchment or a silicone mat.
Melt the remaining tablespoon of butter, and brush the top of the loaf with the butter. Put the pan on the baking sheet and bake the bread for about 20 minutes. Cover loosely with a foil tent and bake for another 25 minutes or so, until the bread is golden and sounds hollow when the bottom of the pan is tapped. Transfer the pan to a rack and cool for 5 minutes, then unmold. Invert the bread and cool to room temperature right side up on the rack.