This recipe for raisin caraway sourdough comes at the request of my boyfriend who loves both caraway seeds and raisins. I grew up eating seeded rye bread from the local German bakery, so for me, caraway seeds are always fragrant and nostalgic.
The flavors in these loaves are like that of Irish soda bread but with the chewy and crusty texture and tang of sourdough. I find this raisin caraway sourdough to be quite satisfying, and it may just inspire a whole new world of flavor possibilities for you, too!
I recommend using a dough scraper to help you work with and transfer your dough. It also helps scrape the sides of the bowl in its initial stages when it is still quite wet.
When adding mix-ins to sourdough bread, the key steps are to:
- Soak the fruit and the seeds in water and add them along with most of their water to the dough
- Add the mix-ins at the beginning of the first fold and gently massage them into the dough
makes 2 loaves of bread
for the levain
- 1 tablespoon mature sourdough starter
- ¼ cup whole wheat flour
- ¼ cup all-purpose flour
- ⅓ cup water
for the dough
- 2 + ¼ cups water
- 5 cups all-purpose or bread flour
- ½ cup whole-wheat flour
- 1 tablespoon kosher salt
- 1 cup raisins, soaked in ½ cup of water
- 2-3 tablespoons caraway seeds, soaked
The night before you plan to bake your bread, mix the levain by adding sourdough starter, ¼ cup whole-wheat flour, ¼ cup all-purpose flour, and ⅓ cup water in a bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and a towel and let sit for 12 hours.
Your levain is ready when it is dotted with many small bubbles on top. To test that it is ready, drop it in water and see if it floats.
Pour two cups of water into the levain and mix until it evenly dissolves. Add the flour and mix into a shaggy dough. Cover with plastic wrap and let sit for 30 minutes to 2 hours. This is the autolyse stage when the flour absorbs the levain. It is during this process that the dough becomes more elastic and begins to develop its depth of flavor.
Meanwhile, fill a small bowl or measuring cup with ¼ cup of water and 1 tablespoon kosher salt. Mix until the salt dissolves.
Once the dough has sat for at least 30 minutes, pour the salt water over the dough and begin to squeeze and pinch it into the parts of the dough. It will feel slimy and sticky and wet. It is at this point when you add in the raisins and caraway seeds and continue pinching and squeezing into the dough.
Begin to stretch the dough by pulling one end upwards and folding it in half over itself (see below photos). Turn the bowl 90° and fold the dough up and over itself once again. Do this 4 times so that in total, you have turned the bowl a full 360°! This is the first fold (of 6 total!)
Let the dough sit for 30 minutes then repeat the folding process 5 more times, every 30 minutes, for 2 and a half hours, each time turning the bowl four times and folding it up and over itself. As the dough rests it will absorb some of the moisture and become more ecstatic. You will notice that it becomes less sticky and easier to work with.
After you have completed all of the turns, remove the dough from the bowl and place it on a floured surface. Cut it in half and shape each half by pushing the sides underneath it to form a ball. Let sit.
Line two large bowls with a dish towel and generously coat with flour. (This is where a proofing basket comes in if you have one). Starting with the right side of one loaf, fold four corners to the center and place, fold-side up, into one of the bowls. Repeat with the other loaf. Let sit for ~3 hours at room temperature.
When ready to bake, preheat the oven to 500°F. Place two dutch ovens or heavy-bottomed pots 4 quarts or larger, with the lids on, inside for about 15 minutes. Remove from the oven and turn one loaf of dough into the pot with the side that was touching the towel or basket facing up. Repeat with the second loaf. If you only have one pot, you can bake the two loaves in a row.
Lower the oven to 450°F and bake for 25 minutes. Remove the lid and bake for another 10 minutes or until the crust is golden brown.