I don’t know what’s wrong with me but, just like Eve in the Garden of Eden, I can’t help it. Ever since my first fermented apple, I have had my head wrapped around the idea of fermenting (that is when I wasn’t dreaming up our next ciabatta) and so, just like Eve, I finally I gave in.
I bought a bag of California seedless raisins and went with it. I chopped them some, then put them in water. Stirred daily, they macerated for two weeks, bubbling away. I tasted the soaking water periodically but forgot to do it after a while and then I tasted again and, lo and behold, all sugar was gone all of a sudden and I was sipping pure alcohol !
I wasn’t sure what would happen next to the mixture if fermentation went on, so I decided to put a stop to it and use the stuff to make bread. To compensate for this reckless use of an inebriating substance, I also decided to go virtuous and incorporate freshly grated carrots as an ingredient.
I added some non fermented raisins to give the yeast some sugar to snack on blindly in case it became completely wasted and couldn’t fight its way out of the gluten chains. I put in a bit of sugar for the same reason.
The sweetener could be skipped but, truly, these buns do not really taste sweet, so unless it is for dietary reasons, it should probably stay in. And I wouldn’t use a liquid sweetener such as honey or agave syrup because this is one wet dough already!
Now I have to tell you, folks! These buns were a hit. They are too boozy for the mouths of babes though and if you eat more than one and hit the road, you may unwittingly be DUI and not pass the breathalyzer test. So watch out and pace yourself. I know it’s hard, but they keep and reheat very well, and they can be frozen. It’s not as if you had to go through the whole batch in one fell swoop and, anyway, I was just kidding (I think)…
Ingredients (for 12 buns and a big loaf or for 24 buns or 2 big loaves):
For the fermented raisins (to be made 2 weeks ahead)
150 g seedless raisins, chopped
300 g water
For the levain
340 g mature 100% white starter
340 g water
340 g unbleached all-purpose flour
For the final dough
802 g unbleached all-purpose flour
203 g white whole wheat flour
577 g water
540 g levain
440 g carrots, raw, shredded
230 g raisin water
175 g raisins, whole (not fermented)
90 g drained fermented raisins
50 g light brown sugar (optional)
40 g milk
27 g extra-virgin olive oil
24 g salt
6 g instant yeast
1 g diastatic malt powder
- The afternoon before mixing the dough, mix together all the ingredients for the levain and let the mixture rest at room temperature
- The morning after, mix the flour, the yeast, the levain and 500 g of the water on low speed in the bowl of the mixer until just incorporated
- Let rest, covered, for 20 to 30 minutes (autolyse)
- Add the salt and mix on low speed until the salt is incorporated and, when pulling gently on a piece of dough with wet hands, you can see that the gluten structure has barely started to develop (the mixing time should be kept rather short, especially if using a KitchenAid type mixer. I use a spiral mixer which is very gentle and only has one speed and, after the autolyse, I only need to mix the dough for 3 to 4 minutes)
- Add the carrots and the raisins
- Mix the remaining liquid with the olive oil and the milk and slowly, very slowly, dribble it over the dough at it spins (a process known as “double hydration”)
- When all the liquid is incorporated, stop the machine and transfer the dough (it will be almost runny) to an oiled container (oblong shape is best as it makes it possible to fold the dough straight in the container. As indicated in a previous post, I use an Ikea sturdy food container which a snap-on lid)
- Let it ferment for 2 to 3 hours, with folds every 30 minutes ( the dough was so weak that I gave it 7 folds all together, including one last fold after it had spent 30 minutes in the fridge. It was either that or get ready to drink the bread with a straw later, it was so wet)
- Then refrigerate for two to three hours
- Turn the dough out onto a heavily floured work surface and dust it with flour before slicing it in two (lengthwise). Then according to what you want, divide each piece in 12 or not (for want of a sufficient number of half sheet pans to make 24 rolls, I went for 12 rolls and 1 loaf)
- Gently transfer the pieces to parchment paper dusted with semolina flour and flour
- Dust them with flour again and dimple them with your fingers
- Then let rise another hour at room temperature in a large clear plastic bag filled with air
- Pre-heat the oven to 500 F/260 C at least 45 minutes before baking
- When ready to bake, heavily mist the interior of the oven with water and slide in the loaves (as my oven is tiny, I can only bake one half-sheet pan load at a time). Spray twice more at 2 minute- intervals, then bake for 15 minutes (at home, in my “normal” oven, I then lower the temperature to 450 F/232 C). Rotate the bunnies and bake another 8 minutes
- Set loaves on a rack to cool and bake the other one(s) the same way.