Not too long ago my local vegetable market began carrying fresh-baked breads and rolls, which they display, temptingly, in a large wicker basket. Among the offerings is a raisin-studded whole-wheat loaf.
The bread is wonderful, and after one bite I learned that it also contains a delicious surprise--whole hazelnuts (filberts). I became an avid fan of the raisin-hazelnut loaf and found that friends in the neighborhood had discovered it too.
Here is a homemade version of the bread that I like to make as rolls since the dough is heavy with raisins and hazelnuts. These rolls are wonderful warmed in the morning for breakfast and equally good with light lunches. They are great to eat with a variety of vegetable soups, and leftover rolls make great chicken-salad sandwiches.
Only One Minute
The food processor kneads this whole-wheat dough in about one minute of processing. Since the recipe calls for about one pound of flour (3 3/4 cups) it may be a heavy load for older or smaller-quantity food processors. If the dough stops the machine, remove half and continue processing.
The liquid used to soak the raisins is used to moisten the dough. In fact, the dough is completely mixed without the extra step of dissolving the yeast. Dry ingredients are put in the processor and liquid is added slowly, while processing.
Within 20 to 30 seconds after all the liquid has been added, the dough is thoroughly kneaded because every 10 seconds of processing is roughly equivalent to three minutes of hand-kneading.
This one-step kneading technique can be applied to other bread recipes that call for dry active granulated yeast. Date stamps on packages of dry granular yeast can be used to ensure that the yeast is active, and it's not really necessary to dissolve, or proof, today's granular yeast.
An Optional Accessory
I like to bite into whole raisins and hazelnuts in the finished bread, so I remove the dough from the processor and knead in the raisins and nuts by hand. If you prefer to do this in the machine, switch to the stubby bread kneading blade (an optional accessory on many machines) after all the liquid is added to the dough. Add raisins and nuts and increase the final processing (or kneading) time to 45 seconds.
1/4 cup golden raisins
1/4 cup dark raisins
1 1/2 cups boiling water
2 1/4 to 2 1/2 cups bread flour or unbleached all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups whole-wheat flour
2 packages dry yeast
1 tablespoon sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/2 cup (2 ounces) shelled hazelnuts
2 tablespoons cornmeal
1 egg white
Mix golden and dark raisins in bowl. Add boiling water and set aside until raisins are plumped and water is cool, about 30 minutes. Remove raisins with slotted spoon and set aside. Measure water and add warm water to make 1 1/2 cups. Set aside.
Insert metal blade in dry processor. Add 2 1/4 cups bread flour, whole-wheat flour, yeast, sugar and salt. With motor on, pour water through food chute within 30 seconds. Process until dough is thoroughly kneaded, about 20 seconds longer.
Remove dough from processor. Mix hazelnuts with raisins. Lightly flour work surface. Place dough on work surface and knead in hazelnuts and raisins by hand (do not worry if hazelnuts break) until thoroughly incorporated in dough.
Rinse large mixing bowl with warm water. Do not dry. Add dough, cover with plastic wrap. Secure plastic with rubber band. Set aside until dough triples in volume, about 2 to 2 1/2 hours depending on room temperature.
To shape rolls, remove dough from bowl without kneading. Cut dough into 12 pieces (each 3 ounces or 1/3 cup). Knead each piece of dough into ball, brush off excess flour and gently press what will be bottom of each roll into cornmeal.
Place dough balls, cornmeal-side down, about 1-inch apart on baking sheet. Cover rolls with dry towel and set aside until doubled in volume, about 1 1/2 hours depending on room temperature.
Adjust oven rack to middle position. Lightly beat egg white with fork. Dip damp pastry brush into egg white and brush lightly over tops of rolls. Bake 20 to 25 minutes at 400 degrees, until richly browned. Transfer rolls to cake rack and cool to room temperature. Makes 12 rolls.