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ImageThis was another recipe out of The Tassajara Bread Book. I made them for breakfast this weekend, but didn’t get to blog about it until now because I broke my glasses.  I am very nearsighted, so this is a big problem.  I tried gluing them with two different kind of glue, I tried taping them unobtrusively, and nothing worked.

Finally my husband worked out a way to tape them that works.  It is even more unsightly than the stereotypical “nerdy glasses with tape on the nosepiece” and obstructs my vision because some of the tape is on the lenses, but I can see!  My new glasses won’t be ready until Thursday.  It definitely makes me grateful for modern optical technology.  If I had been born before glasses, I’m pretty sure it would have been detrimental to my survival.

Anyway.  The raisin rolls.  First you let some raisins sit around in water at room temperature for 3 or 4 days to ferment.  Then you make the dough using the raisin water, and knead the fermented raisins in, as well as some plain raisins.

Most sourdough recipes I’ve tried have some overnight component – usually mixing part of the flour, the liquid, and the starter the night before and letting it sit and get bubbly.  Then the dough is made the next morning and let to rise twice.  So making the dough completely the night before was a departure.  Then, instead of rising twice, this recipe called for shaping the rolls and giving them one long overnight (or 15 hour) rise.

This made me very nervous.  I worried that the overnight rise would be too long and the rolls would rise and then collapse on me.  It also said cover them with a damp towel.  I got my towel pretty wet, but I still knew it would dry out overnight.  I worried that the recipe wouldn’t taste good, because it didn’t call for any sugar at all.  But I thought I would try to trust the recipe and follow it as written at least once to see how it worked.

I had dreams at least twice in the night about my rolls being ruined.  I was tempted to get up and check on them, but that would cross the intangible line for me between “baking as a fun hobby” and “unhealthily obsessed with my bread”.

I didn’t get up and check on them. The rolls turned out fine.  The towel did dry out and stick to them.  I spritzed the towel with water and then pulled it off, then spritzed the rolls before baking because they had developed a thick skin.  They had flattened and spread during the rise instead of rising upward, though they did rise a little more in the oven.  They have a dense, substantial texture, not puffy and soft, but that is to be expected since they’re whole wheat.  They remind me of cinnamon-raisin English muffins or bagels, and in fact, they’re pretty flat and I cut a couple in half and toasted them in the toaster.

The recipe also said to take a portion of the final dough and use it to replenish your starter.  That would make a starter with raisins, raisin water, and cinnamon in it, though, so I just made rolls out of the entire amount of dough and replenished my starter with flour and water as usual.

I don’t know if I will make this recipe again because the long “fermenting” period for the raisins is a pain (he suggests keeping a bowl of fermenting raisins and a separate raisin-cinnamon starter going all the time if you want to bake them weekly).  My family really enjoyed them and now I have some good ideas for cinnamon-raisin english muffins, though.

If I were to make them again, I would definitely cover the rolls with oiled plastic wrap for the overnight rise and see how it affected the final roll.  The one long rise is good because if you make them up the night before, you can bake them the next morning immediately, with no extra rise time – just get out of bed, slide them into the oven, and 25 minutes later you have hot raisin rolls for breakfast.  I am all for breakfasts where all the work can be done the night before.

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