I love raisins. Somebody along the line taught me that raisins are candy. I suspect it's the same person who taught me sweet potatoes are ice cream.
I mention raisins not only because I adore them but also because I baked the Dark Pumpernickel with Raisins from Bread Alone this past weekend. The recipe called for 2 cups of the little sundried grapes! And the longest part of the whole process (aside from having established starter) is the 8 hours prior to any dough mixing/kneading that you need to soak the raisins! The best part is that the recipe calls for 1 cup of said raisin-soaking water AND a cup of strong coffee. Andy is a perfect combination of hilarious and disgusting and so he said this to me as I read him the recipe, "Skip the middle man and just dump it down the toilet!"
Everything was lined up for this bread to be awesome. So awesome, in fact, that I didn't bother halving the huge recipe. Look at all of the loaves I yielded:
Note the two different colors happening...
The color disparities are not the least of the problems with this bread. The color is actually quite interesting. What happened is I baked two long loaves on a cookie sheet, uncovered and the boule in the dutch oven, covered. So, in the future I know to get a deeper color to leave the bread covered. Valuable lesson learned. What's not so desirable about these loaves is the density. The sourdough starter I used had thawed from the freezer. I let it warm up in the refrigerator for 48 hours, stirring when I could. I saw that it smelled and appeared active to I used it in the recipe. Unfortunately, I think it was too tired to give the bread any lift. Another lesson learned, don't debut starter that has been frozen for weeks until you discard and feed it AT LEAST once. That being said, these loaves taste delicious and I am going to try this recipe again without a doubt once my starter is more eager.
In slightly older news, I ruined the Multigrain Bread with Sunflower Seeds that Lil baked once before. Slowing that bread down in the fridge didn't work so hot and we wanted to try it again to get a better rise. Lil and I were both busy bees so we tag-teamed this bread. It starts as a sponge and then you add more ingredients and it becomes a dough, basically.
The recipe unintentionally adapted from Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone by Deborah Madison
1 cup uncooked multigrain cereal (we use Bob's Red Mill)
1 1/2 cups hot water
1 cup buttermilk (or faux buttermilk = milk + white vinegar)
2 1/4 teaspoons (1 envelope) active dry yeast
2 tablespoons honey or malt syrup
1 cup whole wheat flour
2 1/2 teaspoons salt
2 tablespoons olive oil
3/4 cup sunflower seeds
4 cups whole wheat flour
See that part where it says 2 1/2 teaspoons? Well, I didn't. I read tablespoons and threw them in before rushing off to yoga. Is rushing to yoga counterproductive?
Anyways, the bread came out VERY saltly. We turned it into breadcrumbs. You can make breadcrumbs with any type of bread. I'd recommend a basic bread -- more of a whole wheat or multigrain instead of a dark raisin pumpernickel, for example. Breadcrumbs are a practical alternative for dry on-the-way-to-stale bread. Plus, you can use them to enhance many dishes i.e. macaroni and cheese!
How to Make Homemade Breadcrumbs
1. Slice bread.
2. Lay out in a single layer on a cookie sheet.
3. Toast in a 300°F for about 10 - 15 minutes.
4. Tear dried bread into smaller pieces and blend in your food processor. Or, if you are us and do not own a food processor, get chopping! Either way, leave them coarse so that you have the option to go finer.
Store in the freezer!
Sarah Style Three-cheese Macaroni with Broccoli
This is Sarah Style because it was impromptu and there are a million different variations.
pasta (I use 100% Whole Wheat chiocciole from bionaturae)
cheese (I have a personal bias toward Cabot)
all-purpose flour (unbleached)
vegetable (I had broccoli in the fridge)
You whip it up like this:
Cook the pasta al dente and blanche your vegetable (like I mentioned, I used broccoli, but cauliflower, peas, or a combo would work here).
While the pasta cooks, melt a tablespoon of butter. Add about a half cup of milk and a teaspoon of flour. Then, add LOTS of cheese. Cheddar doesn't melt all that great, but it tastes good. If you use it I recommend pairing it with a cheese that melts better. I used Cabot's Horseradish cheese. Sounds weird, and it kind of is but it's good in mac and cheese.
Pour it all (vegetable, pasta, cheese sauce) together in a casserole dish.
Top with breadcrumbs and loads of parmesan cheese.
Bake at 350°F for about 30 minutes.
Mac and cheese is the ultimate comfort food so I figure it goes well with the dense black bread and the over-salted multigrain turned to breadcrumbs mistake post.
Nobody's perfect. Except raisins.
P.S. Youtube "nobody's perfect doglover199709" if you need a pick me up and don't have time to make macaroni.