Bread making is easy, I mean really easy. Once you find a few recipes that you like, you will be baking forever.
This recipe I made for my boys (husband and two sons) as they all love dried fruit. It is fabulous, the bread is not sweet, but the raisins (or sultanas) make it sweet enough. The bread is soft, there is just enough cinnamon, it really is delicious. I actually don't like sultanas or raisins, but I do love this bread. Why, the dried fruit is soaked in water, vanilla and I put a little Croatian rum into it, then it is coated in cinnamon and it changes the flavour.
I love this bread with butter, my son doesn't even bother, he likes it as is.
The bread comes out of the oven crisp, but softens as it cools.
This bread is still super soft the second day, but I toasted it just to see if I like it toasted and I loved it.
One thing with bread making, use a bowl like this to mix the dough. I like a wide rimmed bowl as it means when I do the lifts and folds, I can do it in the bowl, rather than tipping it on the bench. If I make an overnight bread which goes in the fridge, I use a narrower bowl, just so it fits in the fridge better.
If you like raisin bread, you have to try this, it's truly amazing.
Makes 1 loaf
For the dough:
390ml warm water
15ml extra virgin olive oil
6g instant yeast
500g white bread flour
10g fine sea salt
For the cinnamon raisins:
140g raisins or sultanas
7g ground cinnamon
dash vanilla extract
dash Croatian rum (optional)
In a large mixing bowl add the water, yeast, honey and extra virgin olive oil. Mix together with a wooden spoon.
Add in the flour and salt and mix together until you have no dry patches. Sometimes I find using a damp hand, I give the bread 5-6 kneads, just to incorporate the flour better. The dough does not stick to a wet hand.
Cover the bowl with beeswax wraps or plastic wrap and let it rest for 15 minutes at room temperature.
Meanwhile in a small bowl add the raisins, vanilla and rum. Pour over boiling water, just to cover. Let this sit for at least 10 minutes. Once the raisins have plumped up nicely, drain off the water, squeeze out as much excess water as you can and then add the cinnamon to the raisins and mix together until they are evenly coated.
Now it's time to stretch and fold the dough. Add half of your cinnamon raisins evenly to the dough.
Release the dough from the side of the bowl, using a damp hand. This will deflate it.
Perform a set of stretch and folds on the dough. To do this, wet your hand, then take a section of the dough furthest from you and stretch it up and fold it onto itself towards you. Rotate the bowl 90° and repeat the process. You need to do a total of 8 stretch and folds. You will get the dough roughly shaped like a ball.
Cover the bowl again and leave to rest for 15 minutes. Then add the remaining cinnamon raisins and repeat the stretch and folds again. This will incorporate the cinnamon raisins nicely into the dough.
Cover the bowl and let the dough rest for 1.5 hours at room temperature.
Once the dough has finished proofing, place your Dutch oven (including the lid) in your oven and preheat your oven at 250C/230C fan forced.
Now it's time to shape your loaf. The dough will be sticky, I like to use damp hands here. Place the bowl in front of you, think of the bowl like a clock, now using both hands lift the dough at the 12 o'clock position and pull it over 2/3 of the way down towards the 6 o'clock position. Now dampen hands with water and lift the dough from the 6 o'clock position and pull it over the dough you just pulled down towards the 12 o'clock position. Now rotate the bowl so that what was the 9 o'clock position becomes the 12 o'clock position. Repeat the pulling and folding (using damp hands) process again. The dough should now have tightened into a more ball like shape.
Now flip the dough gently out of the bowl onto your bench (set the bowl aside, you still need it). If the dough is really sticky, you can add a light dusting of flour on your bench first. The smooth side of the dough should now be on top. Now I use damp hands again, you can use floured hands, cup your hands around the dough and slowly start pulling it around and down to form a circular shape. The dough will tighten up and will look smoother around the edges. Continue until the ball feels slightly taut. This step comes with practice.
Cut out a piece of baking paper, longer than your ball width, by about 12-14cm, you need the extra length to use as handles to pick up the dough when you need to put it in your hot pot.
Gently place the dough ball in the centre of the baking paper, then flip your mixing bowl and place it over the top of the dough to cover and let it rest for 30 minutes.
After 30 minutes remove the mixing bowl, it's time to score the bread. Using a serrated knife, the dough is a wet dough, so it is sticky, with a quick and confident decisive swipe, make a cut in the dough from top to bottom.
Remove the pot from the oven using oven gloves, it will be crazy hot, remove the lid. Carefully lift the dough using the baking paper and lower the bread into the pot. Place the lid back on and return the pot to the oven and bake the bread for 40 minutes.
After 40 minutes, lift the lid and check the colour of the bread, it needs to be deep golden brown when it has finished baking and it should sound hollow when you tap the bottom of it. Replace the lid if you think it needs a little more baking.
Remove the bread from the pot and place on a cooling rack, you need to wait at least 30 minutes before cutting into your bread.
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