I haven’t baked at all, not even bread, in the past couple of months except for a batch of cupcakes a couple of weeks ago. All the kids (grown-ups really) in the extended family were home at the same time after about 3 years or so and that was reason enough to bake some celebratory cupcakes. Otherwise my oven has been on a well-earned break.
I’ve been itching to bake bread for the past week and when I saw the Bread Baking Babes (BBB) decided to “go healthy” this month, I knew it had to be that. The healthy reference was a big part of the attraction to bake the bread, it being a whole wheat bread with bran with walnuts and raisins.
This month’s BBB host is Lien and she chose a recipe by the Simili sisters (from the book “Pane e Roba Dolce” by Sorelle Simili), the famous cooking and baking twins from Italy. I halved the original recipe (you can find that on Lien’s blog) to make one small loaf as there’s only two of us at home right now. I also substituted the suggested raisins with dates as my husband absolutely loves the combination of walnuts and dates in breads and cakes. Rather than soak the walnuts and dates to soften them, I added them as they were. I lightly toasted the walnuts (I like them this way) and my dates were already on the soft and somewhat squishy side. I also used oat bran instead of wheat bran because that was what I had on hand.
I also made a slight change to the way the dough was prepared. I have previously baked Peter Reinhart’s 100% Whole Wheat Bread and his recipe/ method calls for soaking the whole wheat flour overnight. This makes the softest whole wheat bread I’ve ever made so I decided to follow that method for this Bran Bread. I mixed together most of the whole wheat and bran with water, salt and a little vinegar into a dough and left it overnight on the counter. I then kneaded in the remaining ingredients the next morning and proceeded with the recipe.