Thursday, October 14, 2010

Jim Lahey's Walnut Raisin Bread

Pan co' Santi--Walnut Bread
I seem to be baking my way through Jim Lahey's book,  "My Bread, The Revolutionary No-Work, No-Knead Method."  This book is so popular, it's surprising that there isn't a group baking their way through it.  Maybe a group should be started?

This recipe caught my eye because of the raisin and walnut combination. Also, it's a wonderfully rustic-looking loaf! It reminded me of his similar olive loaf, which was recently baked.

The dough was quickly put together after dinner one evening, with the intent to bake it the next morning.  The dough is supposed to rise until it's more than doubled in size--about 12 to 18 hours.  It actually rose longer than that, because of errands that needed to be done in the morning.  This is a very forgiving dough.

The dough was placed on a tea towel to rise for 1 - 2 hours, before it was placed in my heated 3.5 quart Tramontina dutch oven.  Jim Lahey recommends that people use a 4 1/2 to 5 1/2 quart pot.  However, that would be too heavy for me.  This pot has been used before, and the bread conformed to the size of the pot.  Recently, I replaced the plastic knob with the Le Creuset stainless steel knob so that the knob could withstand higher temperatures.

The dutch oven was put in the 475 degree oven for 30 minutes, per the recipe.  After that, the lid was removed so the bread could bake 15-30 minutes more.  

After 15 minutes, the bread was checked with a digital thermometer.  It registered over 200 degrees, so the bread was removed from the pot and put on a cooling rack.  

We cut the bread several hours later, when the bread was cool.  I was dissappointed to find that the bread seemed quite cool and damp in the center.  Even though the bread registered done on the digital thermometer, it could have benefitted by baking it longer.

Possibly, using a smaller pot could have impacted the bread. If I remember correctly, the olive bread, made some time back, seems to have had the same problem.  Therefore,  my next Lahey bread will cook a bit longer covered and uncovered next time.

This was a marvelous loaf--we ate it over the weekend.  The low amount of yeast, and the long rise times, really brought out the flavors of the grain, walnuts, and raisins.  It was great plain, with sweet butter, or cream cheese.  It will be interesting to experiment with longer bake times next time.  Possibly, that will help the center cook more completely. 

Thanks for stopping by to visit! Come back soon, I'll be baking again often. I hope you will leave a comment below. I read every comment, and really appreciate your feedback.

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