...with a jar of Bron's Bee Co. Raw Honey - Buckwheat Blend. Just small treat I had picked up for myself during my last trip to the Green City farmer's market. I don't usually buy honey, but for some reason, on this one rainy Saturday, I couldn't resist the small glass bear filled to the brim with a deep amber liquid. An impulse buy, really, but one infinitely more satisfying than a pack of sugar-free gum. Or a cherry chapstick, for that matter.
But the honey, oh let's continue talking about the honey. Did you know honey has a flavor? I didn't. The pale, processed goo I had always found in the supermarket had been as close as I had ever come to the real thing. But oh, I have been eating a lie! Because real honey does have a flavor. It's somewhere between molasses and ripe fruit and fields in late summer, and it's earthy and intense and comforting all at once. With the first spoonful, I was carried back to the day I was 9 and I fell asleep wrapped in a blanket on our hammock strung between two sunny pine trees. And a good jar of honey can be used with anything. Really. I dare you to go out and find a food that won't taste delicious with raw honey. Licked off of fingers, drizzled on scones, painted on barbecue, served with cheese, added to marinades, mixed with peanut butter, stirred into tea, spooned onto oatmeal, baked into breads...Baked into breads....mmmmm.
Pardon me while I go hide the honey away in my kitchen cabinet. It's been sitting on my desk all this time for inspiration, but it's becoming increasingly difficult to type as I keep poking my finger into the jar for just one more taste. But I need to type because I absolutely must tell you how that honey made it into my dinner tonight. Honey Walnut Bread with Golden Raisins. And it's taken all my willpower (ALL of it) not to demolish the whole loaf in one night. Smeared with cream cheese and drizzled with more honey, a slice of this bread may be the most decadent, soul-fillingly joyous treat I've eaten since Kylie baked me a chocolate fudge cake for my birthday. I'm sure each and every one of you is simply dying to try this bread for yourself, so allow me to explain just how to make it.
Special note: Thank you Bronwyn and Bob for collecting the very best honey I have ever had in my life! I very much hope to come visit you on your farm soon. For those of you who want some Bron's Bees Co. Honey of your own, visit them at the Green City Farmer's Market in Chicago, or online at http://www.hpmfarm.com/brons_bees.html.
Honey Walnut Bread
with Golden Raisins
makes 1 large loaf
3/4 cup golden raisins
2 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast (or one package)
2 tablespoons raw buckwheat honey
2 3/4 cups whole wheat flour
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons salt
1 cup walnuts, coarsely chopped
1 large egg beaten with 1 tablespoon of water
Step one: Put the raisins in a small bowl and cover with 1/3 cup hot (but not boiling) water. Set aside.
Step two: Dissolve yeast into 1/2 cup lukewarm water. Mix in the honey and then let the mixture stand until foamy, about 5 minutes. If no bubbles appear, your yeast might not be working, so toss the mixture out and try again with new yeast. Add another 1 1/2 cups of lukewarm water.
Step three: Mix in the whole wheat flour and 1 1/2 cups of all-purpose flour, sprinkle in the salt, and stir until well combined. Continue stirring in a bit more flour until the dough pulls away from the sides of the bowl.
Step four: Turn the dough onto a floured surface and knead by hand for 10 minutes, adding more flour as necessary. By the end, the dough should be smooth, elastic, and slightly sticky. Place dough in a lightly oiled large mixing bowl (making sure you turn it first to coat it), before covering it with a damp cloth and setting it aside in a warm place to rise until it doubles in size, roughly 1 1/2 hours.
Step five: Drain the raisins and dry with a paper towel. Turn dough out onto a floured surface and knead the raisins and walnuts into the dough. Shape into a loaf and place on a lightly oiled cookie sheet. Cover with a damp cloth and let rise until it once again almost doubles in size, about 30 more minutes.
Step six: Meanwhile, preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Slash the top of the loaf with a small, sharp knife, and brush the entire loaf with the egg mixture. Bake for 15 minutes, reduce oven temperature to 375 degrees F and bake for 30 more minutes or until nicely browned. You'll know it's done when you tap the bottom of the loaf and it sounds hollow. Cool for at least 15 minutes before slicing.
I ate my bread with cream cheese (and don't even think about using reduced fat) and a drizzle of the buckwheat honey on top. Here's a picture of my roommate trying my invention.