This is quite possibly one of my favourite breads of all time. It is dark, sweet, rich and fragrant, and improves as it ages, (not that it ever gets very old in our house.) It seems rather sticky to begin with, but it does come together. I cannot emphasis enough that fresh spices make the world of difference when you are baking, so if you are delving deep in the back of a cupboard to find an old pot of something, please fling out old dusty spices, that are long past their sell by date and use fresh ones. Lastly when you first mix this dough it will look sticky. Don’t be tempted to add more flour, the raisins will soak up some of the moisture. When it comes to whisking the paste then an electric whisk will help, as it is important for it to spread easily.
Makes: 1 x large loaf
- 200ml milk
- 200ml water
- 1 tsp Osmotolerant yeast
- 1 tbsp treacle
- 500g strong white flour
- 12g salt
- 150g raisins
For the paste
- 85g unsalted butter, very soft
- 60g soft brown sugar
- 1 tsp Ndali fairtrade vanilla extract
- 2 tsp ground cinnamon
- Semolina or polenta for dusting
- Large bowl
- Clean tea towel
- Small bowl
- Dough scraper
- 1kg Banneton
- La Cloche
- Lame or Grignette
In a large bowl whisk together the milk, water, yeast and treacle with a dough whisk. Add the flour, salt and raisins and mix until the dough comes together into a large ball.
Leave your dough overnight, covered with a clean damp cloth.
The following morning:
Mix all the ingredients for the paste together. This is best done with an electric whisk as your paste needs to be soft and of a spreadable consistency.
Turn your out your dough onto a lightly floured work surface. Gently stretch it out to form roughly a 30x30cm square and drop teaspoons of the paste over the surface then spread gently with a palate knife.
Next shape the dough lightly, by pulling the sides of the dough in like folding the corners of a napkin so all the paste is inside the dough. Pop your dough into a dusted banneton and leave to prove for 1 hour on the side, or until doubled in size.
Before you are ready to bake, preheat the oven to 220C for at least 30 minutes with your cloche or an ovenproof dish (with a lid) in the oven. The dish must be very hot.
When ready to bake, take the dish out of the oven and sprinkle polenta or semolina on the bottom. Gently turn your dough out into the cloche. Slash the top of your bread with a grignette and then place the lid back on top of the cloche. Bake for 30 minutes.
Turn the heat down to 170C and bake for another 25 – 30 minutes, until you have a golden brown crust. Keep the lid on as it protects the dough from burning due to the high sugar content of this bread. Do keep an eye on the bread. It is rich with treacle and fruit and so will catch if your oven runs hot.
Let the bread cool on a rack for at least 30 minutes before slicing.
Storage: Once cooled store in a linen or cotton bread bag.