Sunday, July 4, 2010

36 Degrees - Good Time to Make Raisin Bread

Yesterday (2 July) was the hottest day I ever experienced in Belgium since 2008. The weatherman predicted it to be 36 degrees maximum in the kempen (countryside), but I actually captured 44 degrees on my thermometer at 5pm. It was unbelievable. Well, that was largely due to the fact that the thermometer was on a brick wall and the sun was shining right on it. Btw do you know what I did to reduce the heat in the house? No, I didn't switch on the aircon. Not the fan either. We have neither. Yes, no aircons and fans in Belgium. Don't laugh ok? Desperate times call for desperate measures. I stuck some aluminium foil on all the windows on the ceiling on my 2nd floor, so as to reduce the radiation of heat into the house. We are quite lucky to have a house which is very cool in the summer, but the 2nd floor can sometimes be like an oven because of the ceiling windows. And opening the ceiling windows is not a good idea, because we didn't have mosquito nets installed on those windows, and we may end up letting in hot wind into the house.

Such hot temperature is actually a blessing in disguise, if you think of it in a positive way. I actually enjoyed more success than ever in making bread! During winter time, I always had to put the dough beside a bain-marie in a closed unheated oven and it took sometimes up to 2 hours for the dough to double in volume. But now it is such a breeze, just leave it upstairs which is as hot as an oven or outside in the garden under the umbrella, and it doubles in size within 45 min! So I had been making bread for a few days in a row with some success.

So here is my recipe for raisin bread, I will be making more bread if the weather continues to be like this....

400g bread flour
1 tsp dried instant yeast
3 tsp sugar
1 tsp salt
3 tbsp corn/olive oil
250ml warm milk
1 tbsp honey
100g raisins

1. Warm the milk in the microwave or in a pot over the fire, and mix 1 tbsp honey with the warm milk. 

2. Put all the dried ingredients except raisin (flour, yeast, sugar, salt) in a big glass bowl and add in the oil and the honey-milk mixture. Knead it using a mixer (with the dough hook) for about 5 minutes. 

3. Grease a plastic clingwrap and cover the bowl of dough. Let it rise in a warm place for at least 1 hour or until doubled in volume.

4. Remove the dough from the bowl and knead it by hand on a floured surface. Add in 100g raisins in batches during the kneading. Knead for 5 min. 

5. Place the dough in a loaf tin lined with baking paper which has been greased with oil. Again let it rise in a warm place for 1 hour or until doubled in volume. 

6. Bake in a pre-heated oven at 220C for 20 min. Let the bread cool before cutting with a serrated knife. If you wish to keep the bread for the next day, do not cut the bread but instead wrap it up in a bread bag. That will keep it fresh for at least a day.

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