SFBI Walnut-Raisin Bread – Northern Version
When Brother David finished the Artisan II course at SFBI a few weeks ago, he didn’t have to plead with us to take some of the products of his craft off his hands. All of the breads were good, but two stood out—the Miche and the Walnut-Raisin Bread. I’m sure he will get around to baking the Miche at home, and I’ll try to be patient waiting for that recipe to be shared.
Happily, he baked the fabulous Walnut-Raisin bread at home the week after his course, and posted the formula (http://www.thefreshloaf.com/node/21289/walnut-raisin-sourdough-bread-sfbi-artisan-ii). The texture and flavor of this bread are very similar to Acme’s Cranberry-Walnut bread, which is one of our very favorites.
The other day, in my kitchen on the North Coast, I tried to replicate that wonderful bread. And my first attempt at a Suas formula was highly edible. Kinda purdy, too. It is an almost 30% whole grain bread made with a firm sourdough starter that accounts for about 15% of the final dough. The substantial volume of toasted Walnuts in the bread seems to complement the sourness of the dough, and the raisins add a nice bit of sweetness. My only departures from David's formula were to use Central Milling Organic Artisan Baker’s Craft Flour (which includes a bit of malted barley) and our unique Mendocino Coast high-hydration well water.
The dough was very sticky and not easy to hand-mix. I tried to follow instructions, but I have to say that mixing at “Speed 2“ for eight minutes gave me serious tendonitis. As evidence of my very active sourdough starter, the dough rose very nicely in two hours.
I had made 150% of the amount in David’s formula to have a loaf to eat, one to freeze and one to give as a gift. I formed two batards and one boule, and proofed them in oval willow brotforms and a round linen-lined basket.
The batards were baked in our electric oven with the proven combo of Sylvia’s magic towels and lava rocks in a cast iron skillet. The boule was baked in the gas oven in an old Magnalite Dutch Oven (does that brand even exist anymore?).
As you can see from the top photo and those below, the loaf in the Dutch Oven came out with a lighter crust. I can’t tell you what the texture difference is, since the boule has been frozen for future enjoyment. The batard we cut into had a nice thick crust. Not very crunchy. The interior is wonderfully complex, with fairly-dense chewy crumb, crunchy walnuts and juicy raisins. The flavor is outstanding, nicely sour and well-balanced with wheat and rye.
The flavor is enhanced with Cotswold cheese or cream cheese.
This is a bread I will make many times again.