Sunday, February 8, 2015

Rose's Alpha Bakers: Whole Wheat Walnut & Raisin Loaf

It's catch-up week for Rose's Alpha Bakers. Instead of making a recipe I missed, I decided to try something healthy this week and made the 100% Whole Wheat Walnut Loaf from Rose Levy Beranbaum's The Baking Bible. I made a few small changes though - adding a bit of white flour and some raisins - so I'll call mine a Whole Wheat Walnut & Raisin Loaf. It was a mostly whole wheat loaf that was 100% delicious!

While I am enjoying baking through The Baking Bible, I am really feeling the need to be more I've just purchased Rose's The Bread Bible and will be making more breads and fewer sweets. I'll still be baking along with my online buddies (as evidenced by next week's chocolate cake, which I've already made!), but - here in Massachusetts - we've been digging out from one storm after another and making fresh bread from scratch while I'm stuck in the house feels like an awesome winter project.

my finished loaf and dinner rolls

You can see here that the loaf baked up with a nice light crumb. It was hearty, but not heavy.

a view of the inside

lovely fresh rolls

Overall, the bread was amazing. It was easy to make (although it took all day) and the taste was delicious. I felt so healthy eating it! It also made so much dough that I could make a full sized loaf plus eight rolls.

I was a bit nervous about using only whole wheat flour because I feared the bread would be too dense and heavy, so my loaf doesn't look much like the picture in the book. Rose's bread (in the book) looks almost like a Boston brown bread to me - very dark in color with a tight crumb. My loaf is lighter in color and slightly fluffier inside. The addition of raisins also kind of threw off my senses and I was expecting it to be slightly sweeter, so next time I think I would add a bit more honey to the dough or just use nuts and no raisins. Turning it into some kind of cinnamon-raisin-walnut bread would also be yummy.

The first step in making the bread is making a "sponge," a starter dough that adds structure, flavor and texture to the final bread. I let mine rise for the full 4 hours (with the rest of the flour sprinkled over the top) to get the best flavor possible.

ingredients for the sponge - so easy!

the sponge was really liquidy

One of the ingredients was vital wheat gluten. I'd never even heard of this before, but was glad I found it at the grocery store! I don't know if it was just a great recipe or the addition of the vital wheat gluten, but this bread was really great! A definite make again recipe.

ingredients for the bread this is what vital wheat gluten looks like!

the dry ingredients are mixed together

After mixing the starter ingredients, the rest of the dry ingredients are mixed together and sprinkled over the top of the sponge like a thick flour blanket. Then the dough rests for 1-4 hours.

sprinkle sprinkle...see you in 4 hours!

After 1 hour, small cracks have formed in the flour "blanket." After 4 hours, there are lots of bubbles all around the edges. Baking with yeast is so cool - it's alive (said in Dr. Frankenstein's voice)!

after 4 hours...bubbles everywhere

so cool - a science experiment in my bowl

After four hours of resting, the dough gets mixed together then the oil and salt are mixed in. I was a bit worried at this point because it seemed really oily...but, of course, it turned out fine.

After that, the raisins and walnuts are mixed in, then it gets the first rise.

mixing everything together...a bit oily now, but not for long

in go the raisins and walnuts

and another very brief mix, to incorporate everything

Time for the first rise. The dough goes into my lovely dough-rising-bin.

there is always that nervous moment...will it rise properly??

yahoo, it rose! Beautiful.

After the first rise, the dough is turned out - look at all those beautiful air bubbles! - gently deflated, and back in the bin for another rise.

gently deflating the dough

and giving it a gentle knead

Time for the second rise...

after about an hour, it's done

Then the dough is turned out again, shaped, and put in the pan for the final rise. To shape it, it's rolled up and placed in the pan, seam side down.



and pinching the seams

into the pan for the final rise

I thought there was way too much dough to fit into my bread pan so I split it in half for the loaf and to make 8 rolls.

roll dough, ready to be shaped

into the pan for rising

After the final rise we're ready for baking. Yum!

beautiful dough!

golden brown rolls

look how pretty they are!

a bit of butter and we're ready to go

gorgeous loaf on the outside...

...and in the inside!

Bye for now...


  1. hi Alice what a wonderful idea for your catching , you made a loaf and made buns, I like whole wheat bread and white actually without the the the raisins or than or the nuts, but overall your bread looks beautiful and airy looking in huge.

    1. Thanks - it was really fun to make...I might even make another loaf this weekend.

  2. Beautiful bread and beautiful post. I've had the bread bible for years and years, but I've hardly opened it. My copy of the cake bible is falling apart though so that tells you where my baking comfort zone is. I definitely need to up my bread game - thanks for inspiring me!

    1. That's how I am too (baking more sweets than breads), but I'm trying to make some small changes toward breads and even savory pastries. I want to try Cornish pasties next! Yum.

  3. Alice: I really want to try that bread, it looks so good!! I might even be able to get my husband to consider whole wheat if I give it to him with blue cheese! So glad you got the Bread Bible! It's an old favorite of mine. I bake bread at least once and often twice a week. I hope you'll find a minute to see my catch-up pie at

    1. I'm sure your husband would love it! It would be really nice with cheese. You could even slice it thin and toast it to use on a cheeseboard instead of crackers.

  4. Your bread looks delicious. The picture with the buttered rolls almost looks like Easter buns.