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Mesquite flour sourdough bread w/raisins

October 25, 2015

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Be sure to visit Angie’s fabuloso Fiesta Friday where I’ll be taking this bread. There you can find out about Selma’s posthumous award she received from U.K.’s “Observer Food Monthly” at their annual ceremony. Prestigious indeed! Way to go Selma, you continue to touch our hearts!

Before I begin I also wanted to mention an update with an added introduction to my “Hatch Chile Salsa Verde”. Emily, the author of the wonderful blog  “Cooking For Kishore”  suggested to me to submit it to her fun series, “Food ‘n Film”.  The October 2015 edition is still open. Do give her a visit!

I had a hard time trying to think of a good name for my blog when I started.   I would have been very happy with “The Cosmic Tortilla”,  my first choice, but a  French band had already taken that up.  “Bread and Tortillas” sounds so unimaginative but there was a simple reason behind the name.   The idea was that   those two meal accompaniments could be found on our table depending on what was being served.  Tortillas for Mexican food,  bread for about everything else. This was a time when tortillas were considered way too ethnic for mainstream U.S. of A.  I don’t remember how long ago it was, maybe 20 or 25 years ago when I saw a TV commercial for “Mission Flour Tortillas”. The setting was a dining room of a middle to upper class white family.  “What!?” I said to myself.  “The tortilla has arrived!”, or maybe Mission was pushing it along.  We don’t think twice anymore about the diversity of foods that are available to us.  On the flip side, the bread we were eating as kids was not very ethnic at all.  I could not imagine a TV commercial for say pumpernickel or sourdough or any kind of artisan bread.  That would have also been too ethnic for the mainstream.  Not including  “pan de dulce” which we ate every Sunday at our table, our family had 2 kinds of bread on our shopping list.  One was the plain old white sandwich bread, which was our multi-purpose accompaniment for all things “American” like sandwiches or toast.  (Special occasions called for “Pan Frances”, which is found in Mexican bakeries.) Oh, and we used white sandwich bread to make “capirotada” (Mexican bread pudding). The second kind of “American”  bread we enjoyed was raisin bread.  Back in those days,  those were the only types of non-Mexican bread available for us to buy in the little towns of the Rio Grande Valley of Texas.   What kind of breads or tortillas did you eat growing up?

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I can’t help but be reminded of the good old commercial raisin bread we were so fond of as kids when I bite into this mesquite sourdough.  The small amount of mesquite flour gives it a different flavor,  but the raisins and cinnamon are a natural fit for it.  And voila, NO PERSERVATIVES, ADDITIVES, CONDITIONERS or anything else.  It tastes much better than the stuff you find on your supermarket shelf.  The soft crumb has a great chew though  I think the dough could stand a little more water for an even moister crumb. It’s been many years since eating commercial raisin bread but I am willing to bet that in comparison to my loaf, it would now seem to  crumble and almost dissipate in your mouth, rather than let you enjoy flavor to the fullest.  Not that the flavor is all that great!

I made a version of this bread a couple of weeks ago and decided to add more cinnamon and a little less sugar this time around.  It got eaten so fast though that I didn’t have a chance to take any photos. I take a lot of the blame for that.  I better take my camera out before it’s too late.

I used a bread loaf pan and also made a boule from this recipe.  I didn’t bother trying to make a swirl of raisins like you see with sandwich style loaves.  I think it would have disturbed the tiny pockets of air that I carefully tried to nurture during the fermentation phase.

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For 2 medium size loaves:

Levain:

1 tablespoon sourdough starter refreshed 8 hours before

200 grams water at 70 degrees F.

100 grams bread flour

100 grams whole wheat flour

Final dough:

All the levain

475 grams water at 78 degrees F.

525 grams bread flour

125 grams whole wheat flour

150 grams mesquite flour

50 grams granulated sugar

2 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

12 grams table salt + 30 grams water

1 1/2 heaping cups raisins

 

Make the levain the night before:

I make this about 8 to 9 hours before I mix the final dough.  Dissolve the starter in the 200 grams of water in a small bowl.  Mix together the 2 flours and add it to the sourdough mixture.  Blend everything well to make sure all the flour is moistened.  Cover with plastic and let it ferment overnight at room temperature.

On the day of baking:

The next morning take a spoonful of the levain and drop it into a small bowl of water. It’s ready if it floats. It should be ok as long as it doesn’t smell vinegary.

Dissolve the levain in the 450 grams of water in a large bowl.  In a separate bowl, mix the flours, sugar, and cinnamon. Add this to the levain/water solution and mix well to moisten all the flour. Cover with a wet plastic or a wet cloth and let it autolyze for 30 minutes or so.  Next, dissolve the salt in the 30 grams water and then squelch this solution into the dough.  Now add the raisins. It took me only a minute or two with the help of my 6 quart mixer but you can also do it by hand. Put the dough in a container for the bulk fermentation.  I gave it a stretch and fold every 30 minutes for 3 hours.  The dough became soft and supple with a slight increase of volume. It also tended to stick less and less to the container throughout the 3 hours.

Divide the dough into two portions and form them into rounds.  Let them rest for about 10 minutes.  Shape them to your desire. This dough is not so wet that it requires baskets or bannetons to proof but I liked using the loaf pan for one of the portions. Place the free standing loaf on parchment paper if not using a proofing basket.  Lightly spray with baking spray oil and cover with plastic.  I let these proof for about 4 1/2 hours.  They had risen about 50%.

Preheat the oven to 500 degrees F. about 45 minutes before baking.  If using loaf pans,  place them in the oven and immediately lower the temperature to 425 degrees. Bake until the internal temperature of the bread reaches 200 degrees F.  I scored the bread with a simple slash though I’m not sure it was necessary.  If you shaped the dough into free standing boules, score them as desired and place in the hot oven.  Do use your baking stone if you have one.I misted the oven with water 3 times within 10 minutes and then lowered the temperature to 425 degrees.  I found that I had to cover the bread with foil about 15 minutes into baking to prevent the crust from getting too dark.  Make sure you are rotating the bread every now and them to insure even baking.  Remove when it reaches 200 degrees.

Put the bread on a rack and let them cool completely before slicing.  It’s a test of patience to resist the temptation of cutting a warm slice of it right away.

Notes:

This bread has a higher ratio of levain than I usually use.  I wanted to go for a quicker ferment and tighter crumb to mimic a loaf of raisin bread.

Mesquite flour has no gluten. That’s why I think it takes longer to rise despite the relatively high amount of levain in the dough.

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27 Comments leave one →
  1. October 25, 2015 10:27 pm

    These loaves look amazing, Gerard – I have to look up the mesquite flour now as the texture looks beautiful. I felt very similar when moving to the UK, where the only bread for sale seemed to be white sliced bread – you could get that in Germany too, but we called it ‘toast’, as that’s, really, the only way I can eat it. But no pumpernickels, no sourdough, even the French sticks weren’t baguettes. Tortillas, on the other hand, I encountered first here: I had a Costa Rican flatmate who introduced me to them.
    Now I better find out more about that flour …

    • October 25, 2015 11:31 pm

      Thank you! I really enjoy using mesquite flour. There is a little more about it on 2 of the “Related” posts just above. I used to be able to get it at a specialty store, but now can only get it online…I’m sure glad our bread choices are much better nowadays!

      • October 25, 2015 11:48 pm

        I had a quick look but will come back to find out more! Those air pockets are just too good to be ignored!

  2. October 26, 2015 12:18 am

    This looks delicious and is definitely going in the must try list. I used up the last of the Mesquite flour on your Fig Bread recipe! Honestly I love the name of your blog it resonates perfectly, I’m just writing up a bit about when food diversity reached the supermarket in my area. As for which bread we had growing up, that could be divided into two categories what was made: Costa Rican Corn Tortillas, Quick Breads, and Irish Soda Bread, and what was bought. Store bought really depended on the time of year and what was on sale: Italian, Challah, Pumpernickel, Pan de Manteca, Russian Rye, but either way it was always a hearty bread.

    • October 26, 2015 12:43 am

      Thanks for the nice comments! You had a pretty good variety going on. Our family only made tortillas. Are Costa Rican corn tortillas similar to Mexican ones?

      • October 26, 2015 12:58 am

        We did have variety! The tortillas are definitely similar, slightly thicker, and they mix grated cheese with the masa. Delicious!

    • October 26, 2015 1:08 am

      Interesting! I’m sure they are good!

  3. October 26, 2015 3:45 am

    What a beautiful bread Gerard! Me too I didn’t know about mesquite flour, very interesting! Here in Germany bread is of course one of the most important foods – I grew up eating mostly whole grain breads with rye, spelt, oat or other flours – and sometimes we had some wheat buns or pretzels, which I liked a lot 🙂 There are so many varieties of bread here – but you always manage to invent something that’s entirely new!

    • October 26, 2015 8:00 pm

      Thank you Sophie! You’re lucky to have such a wide choice of breads! I’m not sure if I’ve ever eaten a real pretzel. I imagined that there is a great tradition of bread baking in Germany.

  4. October 26, 2015 5:02 am

    Wonderful loaves Gerard 🙂 the colour is amazing!

  5. October 26, 2015 11:39 am

    I love to work with sourdough, especially after receiving some of Selma’s starter. I am surprised at the small amount of starter used. Mesquite is new to me but your bread looks so good especially with all the raisins. Thanks for sharing with Fiesta Friday 🙂

    • October 26, 2015 8:25 pm

      Thank you! One of the first things that I also noticed about sourdough baking was how little amount of starter is used. .Mesquite flour does give a nice and unique flavor to baked goods. It’s really hard to describe. It lends itself to sweet items.
      Thank you for hosting this week’s Fiesta Friday!
      .

  6. October 26, 2015 1:35 pm

    I’ve been making sourdough, too, and I think I’m getting better. But I still need to make it as good as yours, which is perfect really, so I’m not promising anything here 😀 If I can get mine half as good, I’ll be happy.

    • October 26, 2015 9:00 pm

      Nice to see you took the sourdough plunge Angie! If you’re like me, there is always some drama built up as you put your dough in the oven and wait for it to bake. Then you take it out and want to slice a piece right away but you have to wait till it cools. Then the moment of truth as you see if the crumb looks and tastes like you wanted. It doesn’t always come out like I hoped it would, but at least it’s edible.
      Fiesta Friday #91, hard to believe!

      • October 26, 2015 11:33 pm

        I always, always, slice way too soon, haha… Can’t believe we’re still standing with #91!!

    • October 27, 2015 10:05 am

      2 years just around the corner!

  7. October 31, 2015 12:22 am

    What interesting flavor twists to the traditional sourdough Gerard! Adding raisins puts my name all over it.

  8. October 31, 2015 4:25 pm

    Sounds delicious! Would love a slice toasted with a slab of butter and a hot cup of vanilla tea! Yummy! 🙂

  9. November 12, 2015 4:32 pm

    Looks like another winner to me!

    • November 16, 2015 1:32 am

      Thank you Marcella! I was satisfied how it turned out. The cinnamon adds a nice flavor.
      I hope you are doing well!

  10. November 16, 2015 7:16 am

    Wow scrumptious looking bread Gerard…. 🙂 🙂

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