I love my kitchen – especially on cold, snowy days like today. Its bright turquoise paint and cherry red accents make it feel fresh and summery, even in the bleakest of Novembers. While the kitchen was already blue and white when I bought the house, the red is what really makes it feel like mine. My Kitchenaid stand mixer was the first pop of colour, followed soon after by coordinating cafe curtains, sewn by my grandmother. The mixer was also a present from her, for completing my Master’s degree in 2008.
Playing around in the kitchen is so much better when you have all the right tools to work with. My mixer whips up breads, cookies and cakes without so much as batting an eye. My knives work in tandem with the perfect cutting boards to slice, dice and chop to (amateur-acceptable) perfection. And now, I’ve discovered another kitchen tool, one that I’ve had sitting in my basement for a while, but had yet to break out and use.
A year ago, I inherited a clay baker. It was stashed away in its box, on the off chance that maybe, I might want to make a pot roast for one. (unlikely) Then the other week, the thought of using it to bake bread popped into my head. All the cool bakers talk about using baking stones and steam to get the perfect crust – why wouldn’t a clay baker work perfectly for bread baking? After bopping around the internet for a while, I found that yes, this was certainly possible, and had been tried by a few bakers, who mostly wrote of their findings on bread baking forums. Enter a batch of grainy raisin bread dough, a soaked clay baker, and a cold, early winter afternoon. The gorgeously browned results can be seen above.
Now for the part I know you’ve all been really waiting for - the giveaway. Last week, I was asked if I would be interested in giving away a shiny new 13-cup Kitchenaid food processor for the holidays. It slices, shreds, chops and purees, and comes in a couple of great Kitchenaid colours – white, black, or space-age silver.
Interested in winning the food processor? Just leave a comment telling me what you’d make if you won. The deadline is December 1st, 2011, at which point I’ll put all the entries into a hat and randomly pick a winner. One caveat – you must be Canadian to win. Good luck!
Multigrain Raisin Bread
1 1/2 to 2 cups white flour
1 package active dry yeast
1/4 cup honey
3 tbsp butter
1 cup milk
1 tsp salt
1 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup rolled oats
1/2 cup stone ground oats
1/2 cup grainy hot cereal *
1/4 cup chopped almonds
1 cup plumped raisins **
In the bowl of your mixer, stir together 1 cup of white flour and the yeast.
In a large, microwaveable pitcher, mix the honey, butter and milk. Warm for a minute at a time, until the butter has just barely melted.
Stir the warmed milk, salt and egg into the flour and yeast, beating at medium speed for 30 seconds. Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a spatula, then continue to mix at low speed for 3 minutes.
Swap out the paddle mixer for the dough hook. Add the whole wheat flour, grains, almonds and raisins on low speed, a single ingredient at a time, letting the hook bring everything together into a sticky lump.
Slowly add another half a cup to a cup of white flour, still keeping the mixer at low speed. The completed dough should be kneaded for 5-8 minutes, until smooth and elastic.
Place the ball of dough in a lightly greased bowl, cover and let rise for at least an hour, until doubled in size.
Punch down the risen dough and shape into a smooth, round loaf. Place the ball of dough on a large rectangle of parchment paper, cover and let rise again for 30 minutes.
While the dough is going through this final rise, soak both halves of a clay baker in water, drying the inside of the base before adding the dough.
Lift the risen dough on its parchment paper into the base of the clay baker. Top with the lid and place in a cold oven. Turn the oven up to 375°F and bake, covered, for 35 minutes. At this point, remove the lid of the clay baker and continue cooking the bread for another 15-20 minutes, or until browned on top.
Take the clay baker out of the oven, lift the parchment paper and bread onto a wire rack and let cool to room temperature before slicing.
* I used some Daystart cereal from the Daybreak Scheresky Mill in Saskatchewan. It’s a mix of millet, buckwheat, oat bran, flax and sunflower seeds.
** To plump raisins, toss them in a bowl and cover with water. Microwave for 1 minute, then let sit for at least another 10 minutes before draining and adding to the dough.