Monday, August 17, 2009

Boozy Bunnies

I don't know what's wrong with me but, just like Eve in the Garden of Eden, I can't help it. Ever since my first fermented apple, I have had my head wrapped around the idea of fermenting (that is when I wasn't dreaming up our next ciabatta) and so, just like Eve, I finally I gave in. I bought a bag of California seedless raisins and went with it. I chopped them some, then put them in water. Stirred daily, they macerated for two weeks, bubbling away. I tasted the soaking water periodically but forgot to do it after a while and then I tasted again and, lo and behold, all sugar was gone all of a sudden and I was sipping pure alcohol ! I wasn't sure what would happen next to the mixture if fermentation went on, so I decided to put a stop to it and use the stuff to make bread. To compensate for this reckless use of an inebriating substance, I also decided to go virtuous and incorporate freshly grated carrots as an ingredient (hence the bunny theme). I added some non fermented raisins to give the yeast some sugar to snack on blindly in case it became completely wasted and couldn't fight its way out of the gluten chains. I put in a bit of sugar for the same reason. The sweetener could be skipped but, truly, these buns do not really taste sweet, so unless it is for dietary reasons, it should probably stay in. And I wouldn't use a liquid sweetener such as honey or agave syrup because this is one wet dough already! Now I have to tell you, folks! These bunnies were a hit. They are too boozy for the mouths of babes though and if you eat more than one and hit the road, you may unwittingly be DUI and not pass the breathalyzer test. So watch out and pace yourself. I know it's hard, but they keep and reheat very well, and they can be frozen. It's not as if you had to go through the whole batch in one fell swoop and, anyway, I was just kidding (I think)... Ingredients (for 12 bunnies and a big loaf or for 24 bunnies or 2 big loaves): For the fermented raisins (to be made 2 weeks ahead) 150 g seedless raisins, chopped 300 g water For the levain 340 g mature 100% white starter 340 g water 340 g unbleached all-purpose flour For the final dough 802 g unbleached all-purpose flour 203 g white whole wheat flour 577 g water 540 g levain 440 g carrots, raw, shredded 230 g raisin water 175 g raisins, whole (not fermented) 90 g drained fermented raisins 50 g light brown sugar (optional) 40 g milk 27 g extra-virgin olive oil 24 g salt 6 g instant yeast 1 g diastatic malt powder Method:
  1. The afternoon before mixing the dough, mix together all the ingredients for the levain and let the mixture rest at room temperature
  2. The morning after, mix the flour, the yeast, the levain and 500 g of the water on low speed in the bowl of the mixer until just incorporated
  3. Let rest, covered, for 20 to 30 minutes (autolyse)
  4. Add the salt and mix on low speed until the salt is incorporated and, when pulling gently on a piece of dough with wet hands, you can see that the gluten structure has barely started to develop (the mixing time should be kept rather short, especially if using a KitchenAid type mixer. I use a spiral mixer which is very gentle and only has one speed and, after the autolyse, I only need to mix the dough for 3 to 4 minutes)
  5. Add the carrots and the raisins
  6. Mix the remaining liquid with the olive oil and the milk and slowly, very slowly, dribble it over the dough at it spins (a process known as "double hydration")
  7. When all the liquid is incorporated, stop the machine and transfer the dough (it will be almost runny) to an oiled container (oblong shape is best as it makes it possible to fold the dough straight in the container. As indicated in a previous post, I use an Ikea sturdy food container which a snap-on lid)
  8. Let it ferment for 2 to 3 hours, with folds every 30 minutes ( the dough was so weak that I gave it 7 folds all together, including one last fold after it had spent 30 minutes in the fridge. It was either that or get ready to drink the bread with a straw later, it was so wet)
  9. The dough looked like batter
  10. Then refrigerate for two to three hours
  11. Turn the dough out onto a heavily floured work surface and dust it with flour before slicing it in two (lengthwise). Then according to what you want, divide each piece in 12 or not (for want of a sufficient number of half sheet pans to make 24 rolls, I went for 12 rolls and 1 loaf)
  12. Gently transfer the pieces to parchment paper dusted with semolina flour and flour
  13. Dust them with flour again and dimple them with your fingers
  14. Then let rise another hour at room temperature in a large clear plastic bag filled with air
  15. Pre-heat the oven to 500 F/260 C at least 45 minutes before baking
  16. When ready to bake, heavily mist the interior of the oven with water and slide in the loaves (as my oven is tiny, I can only bake one half-sheet pan load at a time). Spray twice more at 2 minute- intervals, then bake for 15 minutes (at home, in my "normal" oven, I then lower the temperature to 450 F/232 C). Rotate the bunnies and bake another 8 minutes
  17. Set loaves on a rack to cool and bake the other one(s) the same way.
Besides the boozy kick, these bunnies are flaky, a little bit like croissants on steroids. They are really good.
The big loaf
These Boozy Bunnies are hopping on to Macheesmo ( a beautiful blog which I am very happy to discover) for this week's issue of Yeastspotting. Thank you, Nick, and thank you, Susan!


  1. You're my hero. First you make limoncello ciabatta, now you are fermenting your own raisin wine for carrot cake bread. What's next?!

  2. I'm speechless! I was just reading about fermenting raisins for dough, etc., and here you are en artiste! I love the "croissants en steriods" comment! Bravo, as always!

  3. That looks awesome!Fermenting raisins for this bread? wow indeed!I'd love to guide our readers to your site if you won't mind.Just add your choice of foodista widget to this post and it's all set, Thanks!

  4. What beautiful bread Farine. How inventive to ferment raisins for the bread too, Wow!!!!

  5. @mimicooks! Thank you so much. My ancestors made their own wine (and sold some too). So I guess fermenting is in my genes!
    @Shellyfish! Thanks for stopping by! What should I try to ferment next?
    @Penny! I wish the Web allowed for tasting...
    @Alisa! I will look into the widget. Thank you!
    @George! Thank you for your kind words. When making bread, the sky is the limit. Thats what makes it so much fun...



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