Saturday, January 27, 2007

Another Berry Tasty Bread

I don’t know why I’m in the mood for berry flavors lately, but I suspect it has something to do with all that white stuff that keeps falling from the sky and sticking to the ground.

There’s something about the depths of winter that makes us crave summer foods, reminiscent of warm sunshine. And that’s when I tend to reach for the berry jams I’ve preserved or, now that I have them, dried berries.

So when I looked through my bread baking books for a yeast bread that would appeal to me, I decided to modify a standard cinnamon raisin bread in order to use some of my dried black raspberries.

I started off by soaking the raspberries in the warm water that would get worked into the dough later, and after breakfast, I mixed the dough, adding some dried lavender to enhance the raspberry flavor and some chopped walnuts for texture.

And all of a sudden, the kitchen filled with a warm yeasty aroma filled with the juicy promise of berries and the fresh herbal scent of lavender, just as if I had opened the door to a sun-dappled garden.

Who knew such a simple loaf of bread could hold such magic? But how could it not, with that rosy blush and those speckles of berries and walnuts?

As with all baked goods, though, the quality control taste test is the most important. Sure, the bread looked gorgeous, but how did it taste?

That aroma drew me back out to the kitchen after the loaf had had a chance to cool a bit, and I cut two slices from the end, buttered them, and sat back and savored them.

Wonderful! The experiment resulted in a bright berry flavor, a hint of lavender, and just enough walnut crunch to balance the soft, tender crumb, and I knew it would be equally fine toasted the next few mornings.

In short, a berry fine bread for winter to tide me over until summer’s return.


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