Rum Raisin French Toast
SUMMARY – better than any store-bought bagged raisin bread. Great texture and crumb made the raisins really shine.

bubbly-dough
Like Marie, I only made the bread.

partly-mixed-dough
Why?

first-rise
Because you have to use stale bread for the best French toast. You could use fresh bread, but it doesn’t soak up the egg custard as nicely.

start-the-shaping
Which means that you have to leave bread around for a few days.

filling-spread
This raisin bread was probably the best raisin bread I have had. And I have eaten a lot of bread with raisins in it over the years. (Raisin bread is one of the few ways I will eat raisins in baked goods by the way.) Paska, challah, store-bought in a bag, I’ve eaten it and even made it. Hands down, this was either the best ever or at least the best in recent memory.

loaf-shaped
I was not the only person in the house that really loved the raisin bread. Everyone loved it and had buttered slices for dessert!

loaf-cooling
I ask you, what sane person or household would leave home-baked, yummy raisin bread around long enough that it got stale enough to make it into French toast?

sliced-loaf
The last piece was devoured about a half hour ago. No, French toast will not happen with this particular raisin bread. Unless I make 2 loaves and hide one. Hmmm.

loaf-closeup

Summary: a starter plus two risings make a surprisingly light, well-flavored and tender fully whole wheat walnut bread.

bread-crumbI don’t like homemade whole wheat bread.

It’s either flavorless or bitter. It’s dry and weighs as much as a cement block.

I don’t like making it either. You either have to trust the market to have reasonably fresh flour (which it usually doesn’t) or drive to your local coop and buy it in bulk because their turnover is better.

This bread changed my mind.

It was full of great flavor, light, tender and really, really good. Plus it had nuts and who doesn’t like nuts?

I did cheat a little. Or maybe a lot. I used King Arthur White Whole Wheat flour. Yes it looks white to start but it does bake up a little darker. Plus it’s what I had on hand since I don’t use the other whole wheat flour enough to keep it around. I’d rather use my freezer real estate for other things, thank you very much. I made a couple of other changes that you will see later on.

But first, the starter.

wholewheat-starter

My only deviation from the recipe was to mix the water, honey and yeast together first, and let them get acquainted a little before adding the flour. I had regular yeast, not instant, so I thought blooming the yeast first would give it a kickstart and make sure there was some yeasty activity going on under the blanket of flour.

starter-coveredI have never used this particular technique for a starter. The closest I have come was using sourdough. But I think I may try this the next time I make bread, or even pizza dough.

I also let it sit in the bowl a bit longer than called for, only because it was Sunday and I had other projects going on, i.e. laundry 😉

starter-bubblingIt was a little hyperactive from sitting on top of the fridge. But it smelled really good!

roasted-walnuts-sesame-seedsI had already toasted the nuts. And now I know you can skin walnuts like hazelnuts! That is completely awesome. There’s some sesame seeds there too.

Since I didn’t have quite enough walnuts and no walnut oil, I added sesame seeds and used a bit of toasted sesame oil with plain canola oil. Yes this was a “clean out the pantry” baking project.

nuts-addedThe dough came together nicely and it was really sticky. Rose wasn’t kidding about that!

Several hours and two risings later, the dough was looking pretty good.

after-1st-risingIt was still sticky so I was generous with the bench flour.

loaf-formationI formed it up into a loaf. I didn’t work it that much at that point. I just tried to form it up so it would rise evenly.

loaf-ready-for-ovenInto the loaf pan. At that point it was pretty late on Sunday. So I popped it into the fridge to rise overnight. I have had good luck with that in the past. And from sad past experience, I knew I would probably be up early on Monday so I could bake it then.

In this case, when I checked it Monday morning, it really didn’t rise too much in the fridge. I left it in a warm spot while the oven heated up. It didn’t help. I put it in the oven on a baking sheet with a handful of ice cubes anyway.

The whole house smelled like the best bread ever. I guess that’s my reward for getting up early!

baked-loaf-dishAlthough it didn’t rise as much as I wanted, it looked really good coming out of the oven. The crust was going to be soft because I baked in glass. I didn’t mind that.

Before I left for work, I put it on a cooling rack.

baked-loaf-coolingAfter work, I came home to a great snack!

baked-loafIt sliced nicely, since there was no tough crust to break through. Even my household white-bread eaters liked it!

bread-slicesI will definitely using the starter technique again. And probably making more of this bread.

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BTW I am very glad this weekend is a make-up weekend. I have fair competition baking to do!

This year I am entering pecan coffee cake, champagne-raspberry cupcakes and carmel-glazed peanut butter cookies.

I will be sharing pictures with everyone, and please keep your fingers crossed!


This post is part of the Alpha Bakers bake along. It’s an online project where a group of food bloggers bake our way through The Baking Bible by Rose Levy Beranbaum.

Most of the recipes made during this project will not be shared. If you see something amazing and want to know about the recipe please let me know. You might want to get the book for yourself, or at least check it out from your local library before deciding.