Bread, of course!
Although I bake bread almost every week, it has been a while since I've blogged about bread. The last one was a somewhat tropical bread with cocoa and cinnamon, that I often bake around here. As I mentioned in other posts, bread is a family thing. Both my grandmothers were talented bakers, either by choice, by chance or simple need. Bread flour bags, large terracotta bowls, immaculate white sheets and wooden trays are part of my childhood memories, when my grandma use to bake a weekly bread batch in a wooden oven she had at the end of the backyard. I vividly remember those days as being truly emotive and messy. Saturday was the day we'd make small cakes using the dough leftovers, roast vegetables and bake sardines in olive oil "to take advantage of the oven", and beautiful breads to feed us throughout the week.
Every time I bake some bread I re-live those Saturdays with grandma - it works both as therapy and meditation whilst kneading, punching and shaping the dough. Me with myself, and the dough. It's the same ritual every Sunday, and, boy, do I love it. There's nothing better than bread!
Whole Wheat Milk Bread with Raisins
Makes 2 loafs
3 1/4 cups (500 grs) whole wheat flour
1 3/4 cup (250 grs) bread flour, extra to dust
2 tsp dry yeast
1 1/2 cup (375 ml) whole milk
1/2 cup (100 grs) salted butter, extra to brush
3 Tbsp granulated sugar
3 large eggs, beaten
1 1/2 tsp salt
3/4 cup (75 grs) raisins, or more to taste
In a saucepan, heat milk, butter, and sugar until melted and combined. Remove from heat. Allow to cool. Mix in the beaten eggs. Add the salt. Set aside.
In a large bowl, combine the flours with the yeast. Make a hole in the middle. Add the milk mixture mixing with a fork (if using a stand mixer, pour the milk slowly and steadily while mixing, with the hook attachment). Work the dough for 10 minutes or until it's elastic and doesn't stick too much to your fingers (or to the bowl of the stand mixer). Add extra bread flour if the dough is too wet and sticky. Put the dough in an oiled bowl, cover and let rise in a warm, dry place for 1 hour or until it doubles in size. Turn the dough onto a lightly dusted surface, and punch it. Set aside for a couple of minutes to rest. Work the dough for another 5 minutes, slowly incorporating the raisins whilst you knead. Prepare 2 loaf pans, buttered and dusted. Divide the dough in 2, and each half in 4 round shaped parts. Place 4 dough balls into each loaf pan. With scissors or a sharp knife, slice the top of each ball lengthwise. Cover, and let rise again for 45 minutes.
Preheat oven to 180ºC. Use a pizza stone or some bricks in the oven. To create some steam, carefully pour some boiling water over ice cubes in a large heatproof plate. Place it in the bottom of your oven. Brush the bread generously with melted butter. Bake for 35-40 minutes. Remove and allow to cool on a rack.
Today is World Bread Day'08, a fantastic initiative to celebrate - what I personally think is - the best food in the entire world: bread, of course!. This is my contribute to this lovely day, the 3rd World Bread Day is brilliantly organized by Zorra.