It’s time of the month when the Bread Baking Babes are at it again. We’re baking bread together and this March we’re making Peter Reinhart’s Cinnamon Raisin Struan. Elle of Feeding My Enthusiasms picked the recipe, Peter’s then favourite one apparently, out of his book Sacramental Magic in a Small-Town Cafe – Recipes and Stories from Brother Juniper’s Café.
Struan is a small village on the Isle of Skye. The word is also considered to be an anglicised form of the Scottish Gaelic word “sruthan” supposed to mean “small stream”. In today’s bread baking world, the Struan is bread made from different grains and a variety of ingredients. Though it has changed somewhat through time, it continues to be the harvest bread baked for Michaelmas.
Going back to do some research on the net, I found that the original bread, known as Struan Micheil, was a bannock style unleavened flat bread that used to be made on the eve of the festival of St. Michael, guardian of the harvest. Cooked on a griddle by the eldest daughter of the family under direction of her mother, this harvest bread was made using the various grains (usually oats, barley, wheat and rye) harvested during the year.
Each family used whatever they had harvested so there was no fixed recipe. Large Straun were made for the community while smaller individual loaves for the family. Special ones were made in memory of dear ones who had passed away and these were given away to the poor.
The modern day Struan keeps the spirit of using different grains but is a much lighter and moist bread that’s usually bakes as a sandwich loaf. Peter Reinhart’s recipe uses flour, rolled oats, cornmeal, and cooked brown rice with honey, brown sugar and buttermilk. The cinnamon and raisins in this recipe make this Struan more of a raisin bread.
I did change Peter Reinhart’s recipe a little. I first cut it down by a third to make just one loaf. The recipe calls for strong bread flour which I don’t get. So according to advice I found on a bread baking site, I made my own by adding 2 tbsp of vital wheat gluten to the 2 ½ cups of flour I used. I didn’t have any wheat bran so I left that out.
The original recipe called for 1 tbsp active dry yeast which I found a bit on the higher side. The bread was good but a bit yeasty so I would use 3/4 tbsp the next time I make this bread. Any less might be too little given that this is multigrain bread that needs help to proof. It would have been too much of effort to specially cook rice to make this bread so I substituted the cooked rice with beaten red rice flakes (aval/ poha).
I left out the cinnamon sugar in the bread as I didn’t want a very sweet bread and kneaded the raisins into the dough. Once the bread was done, I brushed it with butter and sprinkled cinnamon sugar over that for a nice crust. So my Struan stayed true to the original recipe with cinnamon and raisins without being too sweet. This bread is quite good toasted and slathered with butter. It also makes excellent French toast. You can use the leftovers, if any, to make bread pudding.
Please see Elle’s post for the original recipe.
Cinnamon Raisin Struan Bread
- 1 tbsp active dry yeast
- 1/4 cup warm water
- 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/8 cup uncooked polenta (coarse ground cornmeal)
- 1/8 cup rolled oats
- 1/8 cup brown sugar
- 1 1/4 tsp salt
- 1/8 cup beaten red rice flakes (or cooked brown rice)
- 1/3 cup buttermilk
- 1 tbsp honey
- 1/2 water more as required
- 2/3 cup raisins
- 1/8 cup cinnamon sugar (1 part cinnamon to 2 parts granulated sugar)
- 1 1/2 tbsp melted butter or oil
- Mix in the active dried yeast and honey into the warm water. Stir well and leave it for about 10 minutes till it is frothy. If you’re using instant yeast, directly mix it in with the other dry ingredients.
- In a large bowl (or the food processor bowl), combine all the dry ingredients, including the salt and yeast (if using instant yeast). Add the honey, buttermilk and the activated yeast mixture and about 1/4 cup water (a little more if you’re using instant yeast). Knead into a ball and let the dough rest for about half an hour. This time allows the grains time to absorb some of the liquid.
- Then knead again adding more water or flour, as required, until your dough is evenly grained and more elastic. If using a processor, empty the dough onto a lightly floured work surface and knead further by hand. Once the dough has been kneaded well, it should be stretchy and a bit tacky but not sticky.
- When your dough is ready add the raisins and knead for another couple of minutes so they’re evenly distributed. Shape into a ball and put it in a well oiled bowl, turning it around so it is well coated. Loosely cover and let it rise till double in volume. This took my dough about 2 hours.
- Gently deflate the dough and press it out into a rectangle about 8” wide. Roll it up from the short end along the length. Pinch and seal the seam well. Place the loaf, seam side down, in a greased loaf tin (9” x 4 1/3” x 3”). Cover loosely and allow the loaf to rise until doubled in size, about another hour.
- When the dough is crests over the top of the loaf tin, bake at 180C (350F) for about 45 minutes until domed and golden brown on the top. It is done when tapping the bread produces a hollow sound.
- Remove from the oven and brush the top with melted butter. Sprinkle cinnamon sugar over this so it covers the top of the loaf creating a cinnamon crust. Let it cool completely on a wire rack, for at least 40 minutes before slicing.
The Bread Baking Babes are –
Though the Bread Baking Babes (BBB) are a closed group, you’re most welcome to bake with us as a Bread Baking Buddy. Here’s how it works.
The Kitchen of the Month this month isElle’’s and the recipe for this month’s bread is on her blog. Bake the Cinnamon Raisin Straun according to that recipe and post it on your blog before the 28th of this month. Make sure you mention the Bread Baking Babes and link to her BBB post in your own post.
Then e-mail Elle with your name and the link to the post, or leave a comment on her blog post with this information. She will do a Buddy round-up for this month on her blog and send you a BBB badge for this bread to add to your post on your blog.