Making bread wasn’t really something I did much of until I bought myself a bread machine last year. I really do love fresh bread, and I guess you could say I am a bit of a carb addict. Then again most people in our culture seem to be, because let’s face it – there’s just nothing quite like the smell (or taste) of fresh baked bread!

Today I wanted to try to make a beautiful fruit and nut bread, as I couldn’t find exactly what I was looking for at the bakery and I knew I had the perfect cheeses to go with this particular type of bread. Also, having had a particularly sugary day yesterday (I made a cherry cheesecake, nuff said) I wanted to make a bread that didn’t contain any refined sugars. This one has no sugar, and uses honey to sweeten it slightly. I found the recipe on pastrywhiz.com, and it seemed quite straight forward. This is not technically a bread machine bread, but I don’t see why it couldn’t be mixed in one to cut down a little on the amount of work and kneading involved.

In any case, this makes a delightful little loaf perfect for serving alongside your favourite cheeses.

Walnut and Raisin Bread

3/4 cup raisins
1 package (1/4 ounce) active dry yeast
2 cups lukewarm water (105 ° to 115 °)
2 TBSP honey
2 3/4 cups whole wheat flour
1 1/2 – 2 cups flour
2 tsp salt
1 cup walnut halves, coarsely chopped

In a large mixing bowl, stir together honey and 1/2 cup of the lukewarm water. Add yeast and stir to dissolve. Let stand until foamy, about 5 minutes. Stir in remaining 1 1/2 cups lukewarm water.

Add whole wheat flour, 1 1/2 cups of white flour and salt. Stir until well combined. Add enough of remaining white flour until dough leaves sides of bowl.

Sprinkle flour on a flat dry surface. Turn dough onto the surface and knead 5 to 10 minutes, adding more flour if necessary, until dough is smooth and elastic. Don’t make the dough too dry.

Lightly oil a large mixing bowl. Place dough in bowl and turn to coat. Cover with damp cloth and set aside in warm place to rise until doubled in bulk, about 1 1/2 hours. Place a piece of parchment paper on a large baking sheet.

Punch dough down and turn on to floured surface. Knead raisins and walnuts into dough (this is the frustrating part, as they will fall out as you knead, just keep stuffing them back in) 😉

Shape (round, long, square,) into 1 large loaf and place on prepared baking sheet. Cover with damp cloth and let rise until almost doubled, about 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 425 °F. Using a spray bottle spray loaf with water. With a knife, slash top of loaf. Sprinkle with flour. Bake 15 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 375 °F and bake 30 minutes or until nicely browned. Cool on rack before slicing. Serve with your favourite cheese!