04 February 2017

While you wait

Over the Christmas week break, I opened a package of yeast for the first time. To make: Saltie's focaccia, which is the only recipe I will ever need for focaccia. I'm not sure why I waited so long to tackle yeast, but suddenly it feels like the perfect time. We could all use a bit of kneading these days. Or no-kneading, in the case of a lot of recipes in the new wave of bread. Waiting, resting and patience. Magical things take place, while you wait. The purpose of sleep? To forget, researchers have said. There is no better place to see this than with bread.

I decided for the next foray with yeast to approach pan tramvai, a Milanese raisin bread highlighted on Food52 last year. So many things to love about it. One: It uses a nice amount of raisins, AND the water you soak the raisins in, serves as the bread's liquid. It is something to make on an afternoon at home, cool, tuck into a plastic bag, and slice up the next morning. I was shocked at how easily this came together. Delicious with good butter and flakey salt for breakfast. Here's to more adventuring.

Pan Tramvai ~ Milanese Raisin Bread (makes one small loaf) Adapted from Food52

3/4 cup raisins
1 teaspoon active dried yeast
3/4 teaspoon sugar
3/4 teaspoon softened butter
1 cup all purpose flour, plus extra for dusting
1/4teaspoon salt
filtered water

-Place the raisins in a bowl with enough warm water to cover; let sit for an hour. Drain raisins thoroughly, reserving the liquid.

-Warm 6 Tablespoons (90 ml) of the liquid until tepid (stick a finger in it, it shouldn't feel cool or warm), pour into a bowl and stir the yeast and sugar into it. 

-Let stand in a warmish spot in the kitchen for about 10 minutes or until the mixture begins to look creamy/ foamy. Add softened butter and about half of the flour. Stir to combine, then add the rest of the flour and the salt. Mix the dough by hand until soft, silky and elastic, a few minutes.

-Place dough in an olive oil-greased bowl covered with plastic wrap and let rise at room temperature until doubled in size, 1-2 hours, depending on how warm your kitchen environment is (mine was an hour). 

-Pat the raisins dry and dust with a little flour.

-The dough should now be soft and puffed. Place the dough on a floured surface, flatten it gently and shape into a rectangular shape. Sprinkle about a third of the raisins over the dough and roll it up, tucking in the sides—it's best to roll it along the length so you have a long roll as you want to end up with a long loaf. Dust with flour, flatten again and sprinkle over another third of the raisins. Roll up, tucking in the sides. 

-To form the dough, with the last addition of raisins, roll up the dough into a long, plump loaf, tucking the ends/ Lift the loaf onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Cover with a tea towel and let rise an hour.

-When ready to bake, heat oven to 450ºF. Place the bread on a bottom shelf and after 5 minutes, turn the heat down to 400ºF and continue baking 30-35-ish minutes longer or until a dark brown crust forms. Cool completely on a rack. Then store in a ziplock. This is easier to cut when it is a day old.


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