My first foray into sourdough bread making, and by extension sourdough starters, was during this winter break. Needless to say, I sort of failed. My sourdough starter just wouldn’t get bubbly or active enough. I think it would have maybe with more time, but eventually I was only back here for 2 weeks before heading back to college, so eh. Luckily, Liz had more luck than I, so I took some of her sourdough starter to play with this spring break.
You may think I’m lame for blogging about bread when I should be naked, drunk, and swimming in some warm location of choice, but then you haven’t tried this bread. I finally succeed at making something that actually rose AND is delicious.
I guess I’ll start by pointing you in the direction of how to get your own sourdough starter going, since that’s the key ingredient here. For those that don’t know, starter is “wild yeast” that you cultivate yourself rather than buying your typical active dry yeast, and is what gives sourdough its, well, sour taste! My first recommendation for having your own starter, is find friends that have theirs and ask for some of it. If you don’t have friends, a great page with detailed instructions on how to get your own going is here at the Fresh Loaf. If that sounds way too intimidating to you, you can always buy some dried starter off the internet and revive it to get your own going. Sourdoughs International has several different cultures you can buy for about $14.
Now that you have a starter going, on to the recipe! For this I combined two different sourdough cinnamon-raisin recipes (here and here) and then changed them both around. Both only said to let the dough rise for 1-2 hours, which seemed a bit low to be, so I let the dough rise overnight instead.
Sourdough Cinnamon Raisin Bread
- 1 cup active sourdough starter
- 1/2 cup raisins
- 3/4 cup lukewarm/cool water
- 2 cups bread flour
- 1 cup whole wheat flour
- 1/8 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 tablespoons melted Earth Balance or other butter-like substance
- 1 tablespoon cinnamon
- 2 tablespoons brown sugar
- 2 tablespoons cane sugar
- ½ teaspoon nutmeg
- ¼ teaspoon cardamon optional
- fine-ground cornmeal for anti-stick purposes
- Take your cup of active sourdough starter (once it's all bubbly) and mix it with the raisins. Let sit for about 20 minutes.
- Add in the water and bread flour, kneading the flour in a bit at a time until just combined.
- Lightly oil a bowl and let dough rise in there for about 4 hours covered with a damp washcloth.
- Transfer dough to a floured surface and knead in the baking soda and earth Balance. Add up to 1/2 cup more bread flour if needed.
- Roll out into a rectangular shape about 14-16 inches long by 8 inches wide.
- Combine the cinnamon through cardamon in a small bowl and sprinkle all over the rolled out dough leaving about 1/2 inch around the edges.
- Roll up the dough long ways (the way that would allow you to roll the most) to get the spiral effect in the picture.
- Once neatly rolled, pinch together the ends and seal it off so it's like a nice little package. You can wet the edges if that helps.
- Line a mixing bowl with parchment paper, squish the dough more into a ball shape and plop it in the lined bowl to rise overnight. Like before, cover with a damp wash towel and let rise for at least 8 hours. It should increase in size by at least 1/3rd.
- Preheat your oven (and baking stone if you have one) to 450F.
- Once pre-heated, take your stone out of the oven and sprinkle it (or your metal making tray) generously with fine-grouned cornmeal to keep the bread from sticking.
- Uncover the risen bread, lift it out with the parchment paper and then plop upside-down onto the tray/stone. Peel away the parchment paper.
- With a sharp knife, cut 1 large or 3 smaller slits in the dough about 1/2 inch deep.
- Put the bread in the oven.
- Fill a small metal baking tray halfway with water and put this in the rack below the bread to provide steam.
- Immediately turn the oven down to 400F.
- Let bake for 35 minutes and then carefully remove the bread. Let cool for 10 minutes before eating. Yum!
This came out amazing, light, fluffy and delicious. The raisins were moist and the swirl was pretty! Success at last! It sounds like a lot of work, but I swear anyone can do it with a bit of time and patience. Most of the time it taken up by waiting for the bread to rise, so just get it going while you’re busy doing other things (or sleeping) and you’re all set.