01 September 2013

Italian Whole Wheat Walnut and Raisin Bread

This past week, SB and I spent time up Vermont way ... camping is always such an adventure and we had our share of adventures! We weathered two nights of torrential rains without having the tent and gear float away, listened and chuckled at our luck, as a tree fell over in the woods adjacent to one of the sites near ours, rode the bicycles along a beautiful stretch of Lake Champlain shoreline bike path, discovering Michigan dogs at one of the most popular food trucks in Burlington, and enjoyed daily visits to our campsite by a pair of pileated woodpeckers. By the end of the week, my feet were dirty, my clothes were damp and sweaty, the tent and gear were pretty musty, my ankles and elbows sported mosquito bites, and we were ready to return to the comfort of the grey cottage. Vacation is fun, but boy, is it strenuous sometimes!

The first thing I did when we returned was to make some fresh bread - well, that is, after I took a long hot shower and did three loads of laundry ! This morning, a lazy breakfast and looking at vacation pictures is about as strenuous as I will get!

This bread is made with a very soft dough that is loaded with whole wheat flour, honey, golden raisins and currants and walnut chunks. We feel that toasting it is one of the best ways to enjoy it, but the slices must be toasted/broiled on a baking sheet in the oven, as it is so loaded down with fruit and nuts that the toaster might get jammed as bits fall loose during toasting. You really get a raisin, nut or currant in every bite of this bread.

SB loves his with jam and butter, but I like the toast lightly buttered. I also think this bread would be wonderful broiled with a slice of goat cheese a top and some honey drizzled over all. Just a thought ...

The recipe comes from another Beth Hensperger book that I found a while back ... she really does have a great way with breads! This particular book has many ethnic recipes that are taken from seasonal celebrations around the world. This is the third bread that I've made from the book and we are pretty happy with it! It shouldn't last long in the grey cottage!

So ... here's a peek at some of the vistas that we had during our week of camping and touring the Burlington, Vermont area ... enjoy! And ... the recipe for the bread follows ...

... looking across Lake Champlain from a Burlington shoreline park ...

... the Ethan Allen homestead that lies along the Winooski River

... Vermont's Official Greeter ...

... a view of Camel's Back behind a couple other ridges ...

Italian Whole Wheat Walnut and Raisin Bread


2 tbsp. active dry yeast
1 tsp. honey
2½ c. warm water (109° F)
½ c. extra virgin olive oil
a generous ¼ c. honey
1½ tsp. salt
4 c. whole wheat flour – fine grind
1¾ c. all- purpose flour plus more for kneading
2 c. raisins (or a combination of currants and raisins)
3 c. chopped walnuts
2 tbsp. whole wheat flour for sprinkling
2 tbsp. wheat germ for sprinkling

Making the Bread:

  1. Whisk together the yeast, 1 tsp. honey, and ½ c. of the warm water measure together in a small bowl. Set aside for 5 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, beat briskly 2 c. of the whole wheat flour with the other 2 c. of warm water, the extra virgin olive oil, and the honey and salt. When the mixture is smooth, add the proofed yeast mixture and beat briskly.
  3. Add the remaining whole wheat flour, ½ cup at a time and mixing well in between to make a stringy dough/batter.
  4. Then, add the all-purpose flour ¼ cup at a time, working it into the dough until the batter begins to leave the sides of the deep bowl.
  5. Knead the rest of the flour in, using a spatula to keep the dough from sticking to the cool kneading surface. Add additional flour 1 tbsp. at a time to keep the bread from sticking to the kneading surface and your hands.
  6. The final dough should be soft and springy, barely holding its shape when made into a ball. It will be tacky under the surface, but smooth on the surface .
  7. Grease a deep bowl or pan and turn the dough into it, cover with a towel and let the dough rise for 2 hours or until doubled.
  8. While the dough rises, soak the raisins in a large bowl of hot water for 1 hour. Drain them in a colander and then turn them onto paper towels for drying.
  9. Chop the walnuts and have them ready near the kneading station.
  10. Turn the risen dough out onto a lightly floured surface and gently pat it into a long rectangle.
  11. Place half the raisins and half the walnuts on the dough and push them into the dough. Flour your hands and then roll the dough jelly roll style. Press the dough to push the nuts and raisins into the dough really well.
  12. Pat the dough out again into a large rectangle. Place the other half of the raisins and nuts on the surface and repeat.
  13. When the jellyroll of bread dough is formed, divide it into two or three equal lumps.
  14. Shape the loaves into round boules or baguettes, rolling the cut surfaces that expose the raisins and nuts over toward each other and sealing them.
  15. Sprinkle some wheat germ on parchment paper lined baking pans and gently place the loaves over top. Cover the loaves and let them rise for an hour.
  16. One half hour before baking, preheat the oven to 450° F and place a rack in the center of the baking space.
  17.  When the loaves have doubled, sprinkle the tops with a bit of whole wheat flour and wheat germ, place in the oven and immediately turn the oven temperature down to 400 ° F.
  18. Bake about 30 minutes for baguettes and 35 to 40 minutes for round boules.
  19. Remove from the oven and slide the bread and parchment paper onto cooling racks.
  20. Cool the bread completely before slicing.
  21. If you toast the bread, slice it and toast it under a broiler on a cookie sheet.

... Home Sweet Home on a sunny morning ...


  1. Oh my gosh it sounds like a Swallows and Amazons adventure will rain and falling trees! You're lucky to be alive. I love the look at that bread which is just riding the wave between cake and savoury loaf. Gorgeous stuff x

  2. Looks like you had an amazing holiday Susan. There is always something about camping even if it is in the rain.Of course there is always something about coming home to a warm bed and home made bread too.


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