Now this is a celebration I can wrap my head around! I consider raisin bread comfort food and have made it often to give as gifts. The aroma of this bread just says comfort!
There are many variations of raisin bread, which typically has cinnamon as an added punch of flavor. Some recipes have raisins in the dough, some have the raisins just in the swirl. The cinnamon can also be used either way. But to truly get that punch of flavor, the spiral with the cinnamon and raisins can hit the spot.
Raisins are little sponges. When baked in bread, they tend to soak up moisture from the dough, making the finished bread dough dry. Soak the raisins in water first to make them plump and juicy, but not mushy.
A cinnamon filling can make a pretty swirl when shaping the loaves. Resist using too much butter as that can cause the swirl to separate and then the bread slices will lose their shape. Add a tablespoon of flour to help prevent this from happening.
If you like the flavor of sourdough bread but don’t want to wait for a sourdough starter to develop, there’s good news!
Red Star® has made a new Instant Sourdough yeast to replace regular yeast in any recipe to give it sourdough flavor. The yeast actually contains a starter culture (Lactobacillus) and rye flour to take the place of a sourdough starter. Simply blend the yeast with the dry ingredients and use liquids at a temperature of 120-130°F. Bread recipes with four cups of flour can use one packet of this yeast.
When making yeast dough, when should you stop kneading? Try the windowpane test!
When dough forms, it will be rough and shaggy. As kneading continues, it gets smoother. Pull out a piece of dough and work it with your fingers as thin as possible. It should be almost translucent. The dough should stretch, but not pull apart. If the dough pulls apart and tears easily, it is not kneaded enough. If it holds together, and when stretched and held up to light, the light should shine through.
Source: Understanding Baking, 3rd edition, Joseph Amendola and Nicole Rees
If you didn’t get the opportunity to host or enter the State Fair County Contest last year, here is another chance! Once again, the Kansas State Fair will partner with the Kansas Wheat Commission and offer the Bread Sculpture Contest where you can send your County Fair Winners to represent you at the State Fair with their amazing creations!
There are some great “dough” prizes available, but first you “knead” to enter. All entries MUST be pre-entered with the Kansas State Fair by August 15th to participate. This contest is offered by the Kansas State Fair Foods Department located in the Domestic Arts Building. This is where entries need to be received, will be judged, displayed and released from. A $1.00 handling fee, per exhibitor, is due at the time of entry.
Artisan, or hearth, breads have some characteristics that make them unique. Here are some tips to evaluate these breads.
Aspect—Feel the weight, it should be appropriate for its size. Are the cuts on top open to allow expansion? Scoring will dictate the interior structure and visual appearance. The color should be golden, and darkly burnished is not always best.
Crumb Structure—Baguettes will have some marble-sized holes along with smaller holes. The cell walls will look translucent.
Flavor—This is a combination of the crust flavor and interior flavor. One should not overpower the other.
Balance—Sour flavor notes from fermentation should balance with malty notes. Browning from Maillard reactions should be balanced with interior flavors and added ingredients.
Texture—This varies by bread type and is the contrast of the crust and interior. It may be chewy, tender, tender, crispy, moist or dry.
“Find Your Fun” and have some fun with food! A new contest for county fairs and the State Fair has been developed by the Kansas Wheat Commission to bring out your creativity with bread sculptures.
The Kansas Wheat Commission recommends having a county contest to send the winner on to the State Fair. But, individuals may still enter their item in the “Open Class” Bread Sculpture contest at the State Fair.
Judges will consider creativity, originality, imagination, attention to detail, design, color, and instructions.
Durum wheat has long been used for making pasta because of its yellow color and high protein content for a firm ‘bite.’ It is also used to make couscous and a few Mediterranean breads. But research, conducted by the USDA Agricultural Research Service, now offers a new soft durum wheat called “Soft Svevo.”
Soft Svevo was created with classical breeding methods by introducing two genes from soft bread wheat into Italian durum Svevo wheat. This new variety has flour quality similar to soft bread wheat. It is appealing for making pizza crust, baguettes, pan breads, and other breads.
Traditional durum wheat is very hard and difficult to mill into flour. This new variety can save 75 percent energy and 15 percent water during milling.
Add more gluten or knead the dough more. Sprouted wheat flour has a little less available gluten, so it may take more kneading to develop a good dough. Another option is to add 1-2 teaspoons vital wheat gluten per cup of flour.
Shorter fermentation time will give depth of flavor. For traditional long fermented dough, time is needed to develop flavor. Sprouted flour will reduce this time to achieve good volume.
Measure sprouted flour cup for cup.
Store sprouted flour in a cool, dry, dark, airtight container and use within 12 months. Freeze it to add another six months of storage.