The Wood-Fired Blog

Nice Swirl; Bad Seam

Still baking away most days, and on occasion something happens where I learn something new. On this loaf of whole wheat cinnamon raise bread I did something right, and something wrong — at the same time.

First the good news. The swirl inside my loaf is nice, tight and symmetric, which I think reflects that my dough was shaped in a nice rectangle of even thickness before I rolled it; and it kept it tight while I rolled it, without stretching it out of shape. It’s easier to slice and toast, and well, it just looks better.

For the not so good news, cinnamon and sugar melted and leaked out the bottom of the loaf where I had tried to seal the seam. The key word here is “tried”, as I clearly did not properly seal the loaf at the bottom. Sealing the dough is a big part of many loaf shaping processes, where the seam is permanent and the loaf holds its shape as it evenly balloons outward while it proofs. Seeing the “leak” is a good lesson — visual proof that I did nothing wrong.

As always, it’s great eating my experiments.

Raisin-Free Cinnamon Raisin Bread

What do you do when you are baking cinnamon raisin bread, and you don’t have any raisins? Punt? No. You use a mix of chopped, dried apricots and dried cranberries. And it came out really nicely.

This is my second attempt at Peter Reinhart’s Whole Wheat Cinnamon Raisin Bread, and it’s a keeper. I made a couple of modifications to my first batch, including adding more cinnamon to the dough, and more importantly, adding more cinnamon and sugar before I rolled the dough up into a loaf for the final proofing. It was a little more gooey and a little sweeter — but hey, this is a 100% whole wheat bread replacing cinnamon rolls, so I think we deserve a little bit of sweet. haha. Also, the pre-ferment was 400 grams of water, 350 grams of whole wheat flour, 10 grams of salt and 2-3 grams of yeast. The recipe calls for milk rather than water, and I will use milk next time for a softer dough, but I was sharing the pre-ferment with a loaf of whole wheat toasting bread. So I compromised.

Next time I am going to use more fruit, and maybe start adding walnuts or pecans.

If you look closely at the bottom of the loaf, you can see the melted sugar and cinnamon oozing out. Nice.

Cinnamon Raisin Bread

This is from Peter Reinhart’s Whole Grain Bread cookbook, and it came out really well. Peter describes this as a transitional recipe for a bread that lies somewhere between a nice whole wheat bread, and a sticky cinnamon roll. In general, you make a nice soft whole wheat bread using milk and an egg, plus honey, olive oil and cinnamon, and then flatten the dough and cover it with sugar and cinnamon and roll it up. It’s soft, it makes great toast and it’s still pretty healthy.

The Reinhart recipes calls for a long soak of the whole wheat flour, salt, raisins and milk, and a separate Biga pre-ferment with whole wheat flour, milk, oil, egg and yeast — which are combined with the last ingredients to make the final dough. That required one day more of pre-planning than I was ready to make, so I compressed the soaker and the Biga into a single pre-fermentation that I refrigerated over night. I added the ingredients for the final dough the next day and then shaped the loaf.

Next time I am going to add more cinnamon to the dough and a little more sugar and cinnamon before I roll up the loaf — to get a more pronounced swirl.

The loaf in the background is a whole wheat rye loaf with an overnight pre-fermentation. This is really starting to work well, and I’ve go the family on my side at this point. Now I just need to avoid a dense, brick-like meltdown.