Raisin Pecan & Honey sourdough loaf

raisin pecan loaf

The story behind this loaf is a recent encounter with a similar loaf at a supermarket. Many would ask why would I buy bread, when I make so many at home. The simple answer is I love to try specialty breads once in a while for inspiration and also for the sheer joy of eating bread without having to break a sweat.

So, a raisin & pecan artisan loaf caught my eyes recently while I was browsing through the bread isle looking to grab a simple carb for dinner! The bread smelled nice, and I loved the fact that it had my favorite nut in it. I though this will be perfect for the brunch next day.

But as I was eating the bread, I could get raisins but not many pecans, which was a bit disappointing but nonetheless the bread was delicious. So as you might have guessed already, I set off to make my own version of the bread. So this bread was born.

raisin pecan sourdough

Okay so for my loaf, I use a lot of raisins (majority of it will be soaked) a lot of pecans, honey (some beautiful local honey) and a bit of spices just to make it interesting. Now, if you are not into cinnamon or nutmeg, just skip them, this will still be super delicious!

This is free formed( I decided to braid but you can do whichever the shape you fancy), I used my inspiration plus imagination to create the flavor and most importantly this is naturally leavened (and a same day bake!). You can still retard the dough, which will add more flavor to the bread. Simply refrigerate the bulked dough ( in an air tight container) over night and shape, proof and bake the following day.

I hope, you will take this recipe, use your own imagination and make it your own true artisan loaf! So let’s get started. Step by step instructions as usual and I will mention ingredient substitutes where necessary.

starter

Fist things first! You need fed, active starter ( usually 100% hydrated)

A lot of questions about what ratio to feed and that really depends on how fast you want the starter to be ready.
eg: 1:5:5 ratio will be ready in 6-7 hours whereas 1:10:10 will take longer to ripe (10-12)

What I usually do is, feed my starter (1:10:10 or 1:15:15) the night before around 10 p.m. so it will be ready by morning next day, say 7-8 a.m

soaked raisins

Soak the raisins in luke warm water for about an hour. This will re hydrate the dried fruit and they will look swollen and plump. Do not discard the soaking water, we use all that in the dough!

Give these a rough chop once fully soaked

The soaked raisins will smash easily while mixing and add sweetness and color to the dough, so does the soaking water!

pecans

Roughly chop the pecans. Again, I like big chunks, but you can chop them finer too.

measure water and starter

When you are ready to make the bread, weigh the 130 g of water and starter in a bowl. Add the honey to the same and give it a good mix

honey

Let’s talk about what honey does in this bread. It adds sweetness and flavor. I prefer to add honey instead of refined sugar as long as it doesn’t conflict with other flavors.

You can substitute the 2 tbsp honey with 2 tbsp of any of the following;
brown sugar (dark/light)
castor sugar
maple syrup

If using sugar, add extra 2 tbsp water

add butter

Weight/measure flour, salt, spices, soaked sultana, starter mixture into a bowl of a stand mixer. Start mixing using the dough hook, on low speed. Add raisin soaking water gradually as you mix. The dough will come together to a sticky mess. You may have some water left, but that’s okay.

Keep kneading for about a minute more and them add soften butter a tablespoon at a time and keep kneading/mixing on medium speed.

Scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl as you go.

mixing

Once the dough get to this stage and all your butter is added, mix for an additional 1-2 minutes. Use a little flour to help release the sticky dough from the sides of the ball.

The dough will be sticky but manageable. You will feel the dough has started to get stronger

dough

Get the semi developed dough onto a bench (flat, non-stick surface) Use water to lubricate your hands and use slap and fold to finish kneading the dough. Once done you can use a little dusting of flour to round up the dough. This will not take more than a minute or two.

dough

The kneaded dough will be a lot firmer and smoother. Use a little flour to mold it into a dough ball and place this in a container. Cover loosely and let sit for 30 minutes (an hour is fine too) This is to relax the dough, as we are going to stretch it to incorporate pecans and the rest of the raisins.

stretched dough

Take the rested dough onto a bench and stretch the dough as wide as you can without tearing it. There is no particular size, we just want to fold through the pecans as evenly as possible and this is the easiest way to do it. Once stretched, spread the pecans and the remaining 20 g of raisins. Roll the dough starting from one side (like a cinnamon roll) to a cylinder and then to a ball again like shown in the next picture.

dough

Place this dough ball in a lightly greased bowl, cover loosely and place in a warm place to bulk. This will take about 4-5 hours ( roughly at 27°C) We are looking for a dough that is doubled(almost) in size.

bulked dough

This is the bulked dough. It will look a lot airy and silky.

bulked dough

Get this onto a floured surface and punch down.

I wanted to shape this into a platte, but you can actually shape this in anyway you like. You can also bake it into a pan loaf using a 9 by 5 loaf pan.

If you want to do the braid, divide the dough in to three pieces.

shape dough

Shape each piece into a log, by rolling the dough on the bench while applying pressure with your palms.

If the dough is too sticky, place the dough back in the container cover and refrigerate for about 30 minutes. Cold dough is much easier to handle.

plaited bread

Plait the three strands, squeeze and tuck the end bits underneath. Do not plait too tightly, leave some room for the dough to expand. It is okay if the dough infuses together. As it is a stickier dough, it is likely that the braid will disappear when proofing/baking, which is fine.

Place this on a tray lined with a parchment, cover loosely and place in a moist, warm place to proof

proofed bread

This bread took 4-5 hours to proof ( roughly at 27°C). Be patient! at first you will not see any movement, but after two hours or so it will start to grow rapidly.

Once ready, bake for 40- 45 minutes @ 350 °F / 180 °C

raisin pecan sourdough
Proofed in a loaf pan
baked oaf

Make a light sugar syrup by boiling equal parts of water and sugar for 2 minutes. As soon as the bread comes out, apply a thin coating of the syrup. This will help keep the loaf moist for longer.

Leave on a wire rack to cool.

Store the completely cooled bread in a air tight container for up to two days at room temperature.

Best eaten on the same day!

raisin pecan sourdough

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9 comments

  1. Just came across your posts on Instagram and love it. A quick question with regards to feeding the starter. Are the times you describe based on refrigerated on refrigerated? Also, living a warm humid climate, should I adjust hydration?
    Cheers.

    1. These times are when the starter is left at room temperature.
      Water is always a variable, this is why I have mentioned to add “soaking water” gradually and leaving some behind if your dough becomes too wet/sticky.
      Also, If it is humid and warm;
      – you can refrigerate the dough for 15 minutes after adding butter, just to stop butter from melting
      – also I have mentioned to refrigerate the bulked dough (for 30 minutes – 1 hour) if the dough is too sticky, which might help in your case

      Hope this will help.

  2. I don’t have sourdough starter for this bread. I found out that Red Star now has a yeast that has dried sourdough starter built into it. How or what adjustments should I make to the ingredients if I use this instead of regular sourdough starter? Thanks!

    1. If you don’t have sourdough starter, you can use instant yeast (2 teaspoons)
      With instant yeast, bulk will only take about 45 minutes – 1 hour and final proof is another 30-45 minutes ( depending on the room temperature)

      I am not sure how to use the Red Star dried sourdough starter, as I have never tried it.
      Hope this helps

    1. Yes. You can place the shaped loaf in the pan and cover (make sure to cover entirely, to prevent drying out) and refrigerate. Check if it is proofed next day, before you bake. If not let it sit at room temperature until proofed enough and then bake!

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