It’s Summertime! I am so excited for a change of pace and time for things that I don’t typically get to during the rat race of the school year. Baking, walking, reading and blogging are some of those things. I’ve been wanting to post this recipe for a few months, but haven’t had the time.
It’s from my friend Sharon, found on a blog- Life Is Crazy Beautiful, reposting a recipe from another blog, Simply So Good. Simply So Good is chock full of inspiring and beautiful posts that I hope to explore this summer.
One week this winter when life was feeling rough- dark afternoons, too much to do, sick kids- Sharon asked if there was anything she could do to help.
I am not a person who refuses help. While there may have been a time in my past when it was harder for me to accept help, that ship sailed at about kid #1. It was obvious that I couldn’t do this life alone. God made us for community. Therefore, I say yes! Though sometimes I don’t know what it is that I need, I know I have needs and welcome help!
I told her I would let her know… to standby.
Two days later, I got home from sitting in rush-hour traffic – delivering the desserts to the Girl Scout Room In the Inn service project that we couldn’t attend, because I had a sick girl scout, but wanted to still bring the food we had signed up to bring, having rushed home to serve dinner to the family in the 5:00 darkness. Once I made it home, my son told me that while I was gone our sweet friends had come to the door with a paper grocery sack with 2 beautiful, warm loaves of cinnamon raisin bread for us. The smell and the beauty was something to behold. Asher and I dug in immediately, and sliced thick pieces, smeared with butter, and stood in the kitchen smiling (and me choking back tears) and feeling SO incredibly loved.
I ended up having a week of this bread as toast most every morning. It was delightful. These sweet, cinnamony crusty loaves were a gift of thoughtfulness and love.
When I asked Sharon about the recipe for the bread she said it was so easy.
I love homemade artisan bread but the time it takes to make it is
sometimes almost always a barrier for me. I have learned that when it comes to bread, at this moment in time, I need simple and low maintenance. My friend Emily is becoming quite the bread artisan with her yeast-free, from-scratch-sourdough crusty bread that is VERY impressive. I tried her bread process a few months ago, inspired by her, but I left the multi-day process overwhelmed and discouraged.
I told Emily that all of the tending to it and “observing” it, and every hour caring for it, all with the risk that something might go wrong and if it did, I wouldn’t know what it was that went wrong stressed me out.
She replied, “Did you think it was going to be easy? It’s not easy! But I love being curious about the process!”
To which I replied, “OH!!! That’s my problem!! In my life right now I am full-up on curiosity projects- raising 2 teens and a tween who are extremely different from each other, and doing a job that is never dull or mundane. I really need my creative endeavors to be low-risk and low-mystery right now. I’ve got enough that is forcing curiosity, such that baking is not the area I need that in.”
I was so thankful for that clarification!
So, I will marvel at Emily’s bread for now (and hope to be a lucky recipient of her gorgeous loaves when she has extra) and will work on “perfecting” this simple, low-investment bread which yields great loaves. I’m hoping to be able to spread the joy that Sharon and her boys shared with me, by bringing these loaves of love to people who might enjoy them.
A rustic, chewy loaf of artisan-style bread, chock-full of plump raisins and cinnamon.
(1 loaf) Time: Prep: 5min; Cook: 40min; Total: 12hr, 45min
3 cups unbleached, all-purpose flour – or part whole wheat/part all-purpose; or white wheat
2 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons sugar
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon instant yeast
1 cup raisins (I used part golden, part classic raisins)
1 1/2 cups water
In a large bowl stir together flour, salt, sugar, cinnamon and yeast until well combined.
Stir in raisins.
Stir in water.
Mix just until combined. Dough will be shaggy and possibly a little dry looking.
Cover bowl with plastic wrap and allow to sit on counter for 12-18 hours.
Place dutch oven (or large enamel coated cast iron pot with lid – think Le Creuset…though mine is a knock-off from Aldi!) in your oven and preheat to 450 degrees for 20- 30 minutes. In the meantime, turn your dough onto a moderately floured surface. Sprinkle with flour and use floured hands to shape into a smooth ball, folding the edges to the bottom. Put the loaf down on your floured surface, invert your bowl on top and leave it until your oven and pot are preheated.
Slit the top of your loaf about 1/8-1/4 inch deep with a criss-cross with a sharp serrated knife. Drop it carefully in your preheated pot (you can sprinkle some corn meal in the bottom first if you like) and cover with the lid.
Bake covered at 450 degrees for 25 minutes. Remove lid and continue to bake for 10 to 15 minutes. Carefully remove your hot loaf to a cooling rack and cool thoroughly before slicing.
*If you don’t have the dutch oven…you can bake your loaf on a baking stone or sheet. Just preheat it as you do the pot, and put the bottom of a broiler pan or jelly roll pan on the rack below. After you put your bread on the sheet pour a cup of water into the broiler pan and close the door. This will provide the steam you need for the crispy, chewy artisan crust.
As I mentioned at the beginning of the post, reading is another summer pursuit! I have a tradition of making a book stack (a tangible book-list) for the summer and posting on the blog. It’s full of all of my favorite genres of books this year- I usually read a few books at a time so I can rotate my reading depending my mindset and mood.
While I never finish the stack, I work hard to chip away at it. The best is when I find a friend who is also interested in any of these and we get together (or chat on the phone if not local) and talk about the book after we have both read it. Multiple mini-book clubs!
I hope your summer is filled with loving people with gifts of food and reading lots of great books (or whatever refreshes you)!