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Raisin Rosemary Bread

This bread is what I would call a little bit unexpected.  It uses bread flour...regular old white bread flour...and yet it is dense and chewy, deeply flavorful and brown!  And while it's true that the heady, piney rosemary threaded throughout the bread is a major contributor to the "deeply flavorful" factor (not to mention the intoxicating smell it emits), it's actually the humble raisin that plays the star in this loaf.  Bruised and battered into submission, the pulpy raisin spreads its stickiness...its every last inch of this bread.

Unexpected.  In a glorious way.
Raisin Rosemary Bread
As I've been doing a lot lately, I turned this recipe around a bit so that I could let my bread machine do all of the heavy work in the beginning.  You can just as easily change the order of things to mix it by hand (since that was how the original recipe was written).  If you do it by hand, you may will want to run your knife through the raisins a few times to "open them up", so that they still give the bread that gorgeous color, perfume, and flavor throughout.
adapted from Jamie's Kitchen
yield: 1 loaf

2 c. tepid water + more as needed
1 Tbs. honey
just over 1 lb. (3-4 c.) bread flour + more as needed
1 Tbs. salt
scant 2 Tbs. instant yeast
~⅓ c. fresh rosemary leaves
~9 oz. (~1½ c.) raisins
Add the ingredients in the order listed from water through yeast to the pan of your bread machine and select dough cycle.  Adjust water and/or flour as needed until your dough is neither sticky nor should be just "tacky".  Add raisins and rosemary to pan just once everything is mixed correctly and just as it starts to knead the ingredients together.  Let cycle run (and rise).

Turn dough out onto a floured counter and knead for a few minutes by hand.  Form into either a free-form round or long loaf and place on a baking sheet that has been dusted with flour.  Alternately, oil a loaf pan really well, form dough into a cylinder and place in pan.  Cover lightly with a greased film of plastic or a clean kitchen towel and let rise until doubled in size, ~45 minutes - 1 hour.

Preheat oven to 350° F during last 15 or 20 minutes of rise time.
Score the length of the bread with a sharp knife, stick a sprig of rosemary in (if you wish) and slide into preheated oven.  Depending on how  you formed  your loaf, bake for anywhere from 25-50 minutes, until golden and crisp.  It seems to take longer to bake if it is in a loaf pan.  If I had to recommend a shape, I'd go with a free form or banneton-formed loaf (it has a tendency of sticking to the pan if baked in one).

This loaf is extremely fragrant and somewhat dense.  It reminds me of brown bread.  Very moist and satisfying.  Jamie recommends serving with a Ploughman's lunch or with a Cheddar cheese sandwich and tangy pickles.  I decided to make a grilled cheese using Extra Sharp cheddar.  I ate it with tangy pickles and washed it down with some dark ale.  It was heaven!  The salty, gooey cheese was the perfect compliment to the sweet, yet herbaceous, hearty bread.

I am also sharing this post with:
*Ott, A's Iron Chef Challenge: Red Star Yeast
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