Cinnamon + Raisin Applesauce Bread

>> Monday, March 4, 2013

Before I say what I need to say (and do what I need to do for my own curiosity), let's break bread together. I promise it won't be the last time ever. Just the last time for a while.

Makes two loaves or, as I discovered, one gigantic monster

What you'll need . . .
  • 2-1/4 teaspoon active dry yeast
  • 1/2 cup warm water
  • 1-1/2 cups applesauce
  • 3 cups whole wheat flour
  • 3 cups unbleached bread flour, plus more for dusting
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons ground flax meal + 1/2 cup hot water (flax eggs)
  • 2 teaspoons salt (I used coarse, Kosher salt)
  • 1 cup raisins
  • 1 tablespoons ground cinnamon

Method . . . 

  1. Optional: Make 15-minute applesauce for us in this recipe. But any sort will do.
  2. In the bowl of an electric mixer, mix together the yeast and 1/2 cup warm water. Let sit until frothy.
  3. Whisk in the applesauce and let sit another couple minutes. Then add the flour, olive oil, flax eggs, and salt. 
  4. Attach bowl to mixer fitted with the dough hook. Mix on low speed until all the ingredients are well combined, about 3 minutes. Raise the speed to medium-low, and continue to mix until the dough is uniformly smooth and pulls away from the sides of the bowl, about 3 minutes more.
  5. Turn out the dough onto a lightly floured work surface. Pat out into a round + cover with raisins and cinnamon. Knead until they are in the dough. Don't worry if raisins pop out from time to time, that happened to me, too. 
  6. Place the dough back in the bowl you used to mix it in -- lightly oiled and covered with plastic wrap.
  7. Let rise for 2 hours, until doubled in bulk.
  8. Preheat your oven to 425 degrees F. I used a dutch oven to bake my bread (it's 5 to 6 quart in size), so if you have one -- place it in, too, to preheat as well. (Alternatively: You may also use a loaf pan and bake two loaves.)
  9. Punch down dough a bit and fashion into a round. (Alternatively, split into two pieces and shape into a loaf that will fit in your pan.)
  10. Bake for 40 to 50 minutes, until golden brown.
  11. Turn out the bread onto a wire rack to cool completely before slicing.

You read that correctly. After years of scoffing + rolling my eyes like a bratty 13-year-old at the gluten-free diet for years, I am going to give it a try for 28 days. I have been waking up feeling hungover for a couple weeks now. I've had digestive ills, too, that I won't go into. I haven't been drinking much. I haven't been particularly dehydrated (I have water at my side 24/7).

One of my friends suggested my gluten-heavy diet might be to blame. We all know I eat tons of the stuff. So, it's not out of the realm of possibility.

I will write more about this plan + why I'm doing it tomorrow. I had a farewell hunk of bread for breakfast this morning, am saving some for Stephen, and have packed a good chunk of it away in the freezer for safekeeping. I don't know exactly what "the plan" will entail, but I refuse to buy expensive, exotic ingredients to substitute in for my regular mainstays. Instead, I'll use what I have -- oats, cornmeal, almonds, flaxmeal, etc. -- staying within our weekly grocery budget.

I will not be going gluten-free for life even if I feel fantastic at the end of this little experiment. All or nothing rarely works for me, especially for matters relating to food. However, I see how my reliance on bread and other convenience carbs is cutting into my veggie intake and, therefore, might be wrecking havoc on my body.

I could learn a thing or two -- also -- by making creative substitutions for my favorite foods, like pizza and cookies, and perhaps come up with some alternatives to throw in my everyday mix of culinary delights.

Also, I've started a Pinterest board with tasty gluten-free foods I've discovered and am continuing to suss out. And I'd love your suggestions for how to incorporate GF foods and ingredients into my life without feeling shocked/deprived of my crusty slices of sourdough.

Stay tuned for more on this "exciting" adventure . . .

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