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Cook3 hrs 20 mins
A remarkable bread - wonderful, fine texture. From Beth Hensperger's 'The Bread Bible'. Her desciption: 'I think this is one of the best breads in the Western world. It is distinctly stamped with the fragrance of raisins and walnuts. Use a fruity Italian extra-virgin olive oil for the bread; the special quality the oil gives it is very desirable.
- 2 1⁄2 cups warm water (105 - 115F)
- 2 (1 tablespoon) packages active dry yeast
- 1 pinch light brown sugar or 1 teaspoon honey
- 1⁄2 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1⁄4 cup honey
- 1 tablespoon salt
- 4 cups fine-grind whole wheat flour, preferably stone ground
- 1 1⁄2-1 3⁄4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
- 2 cups dark raisins, plumped in hot water 1 hour and drained on paper towels (10 ounces)
- 3 cups walnuts, broken or chopped (12 ounces)
- 2 tablespoons whole wheat flour, for sprinkling
- 2 tablespoons unprocessed wheat bran, for sprinkling
- In a small bowl, pour 1/2 cup of the warm water; Add yeast and sugar; stir to dissolve and let stand until foamy, about 10 minutes.
- In a large mixing bowl with a whisk or the work bowl of a heavy-duty electric mixer with the paddle attachment, combine the remaining 2 cups warm water, olive oil, honey, sale and 2 cups of the whole-wheat flour; Add the yeast mixture; Beat vigorously until smooth, about 1 minute.
- Add the remaining whole-wheat flour, 1/2 cup at a time; Add the unbleached flour, 1/4 cup at a time, until a soft dough that just clears the sides of the bowl is formed; Switch to a wooden spoon when necessary if making by hand.
- Turn the dough out onto a very lightly floured work surface; knead until soft and springy yet resilient to the touch, dusting with flour only 1 tablespoon at a time as needed to prevent sticking, about 6 minutes.
- If kneading by machine, use dough hook and knead 5 to 6 minutes, or until dough is smooth and springy.
- Do not add too much flour, or the loaf will be too dry and hard to work.
- Place the dough in a greased bowl, turning once to coat; cover with plastic wrap; let rise until doubled in bulk, 2 to 2 1/2 hours.
- Grease or parchment-line a baking sheet; Combine the whole-wheat flour and wheat bran and sprinkle on the baking sheet; Turn dough out onto lightly floured work surface without punching it down.
- Pat into large oval and sprinkle evenly with half the drained raisins and half the walnuts; Press the nuts and fruit into the dough and roll it up; Pat the dough down into an oval once again and sprinkle it evenly with the remaining nuts and raisins.
- Press the addition in and roll the dough up again.
- Divide the dough into 2 or 3 equal portions.
- Shape into 3 tight round loaves, or 2 baguettes about 14 inches long; Gently pull the surface taut from the bottom on both; Place the loaves on the pans; cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rise until doubled in bulk, 45 minutes to an hour.
- Twenty minutes before baking, preheat the over to 400F, with a baking stone, if desired.
- Slash the round or baguette loaves quickly with a serrated knife with two parallel lines and one intersecting line no more than 1/4 inch deep; Place the baking sheet directly on the stone or on an oven rack and bake until loaves are brown, crusty, and sound hollow when tapped with your finger, 35 to 40 minutes for the round loaves and 25 to 30 minutes for the baguettes.
- Transfer to a cooling rack; cool completely before slicing.