Excerpt from Ari’s Top 5 enews
A classic bread to bring comfort
We’ve been baking this lovely Pecan Raisin Bread for well over 25 years. It has stayed at the top of the Bakehouse’s list of favorites for so long now that I almost forget about it sometimes. Fortunately for me, the bread bakers at the Bakehouse don’t. If we failed to make it we would have some very unhappy customers on our hands!
If you’re one of the few folks who still don’t know this bread, let me take this opportunity to introduce you. Over half a pound of really juicy Red Flame raisins and Georgia pecans are packed into every loaf. It’s baked on a stone hearth to ensure a thin crispy caramelized crust. Toast it with butter or Creamery Cream Cheese. Use it as a base for chicken salad sandwiches (I made a great salad using the oak-smoked chicken from the Roadhouse the other day). It would be a perfect pairing with the Pitchfork cheddar. I love it myself, toasted with olive oil—fruit and olive oil are an underappreciated combination in our part of the world (see the salad below for more on that). If you pick up a loaf fresh from the Bakehouse, Deli or Roadhouse you might eat half of it on the way home. My friend Frank who just retired after 29 years at the Bakehouse, calls the Pecan Raisin a “magical combination.” Amy Emberling, managing partner since 2000—and one of the original bakers back in 1992—says:
I really love this bread. It just seems like the perfect balance of sweet and sour. It’s so satisfying that you can just snack on it, pulling off chunks. It’s become an Ann Arbor classic eaten frequently by our regulars, not just for special occasions!
The ingredient list is impressive in part, for its brevity, and also in the quality of what’s on it. There’s no added sugar, no added shortening or oil. Just organic, unbleached and unbromated flour, filtered water, sea salt, pecans, and dried cranberries. The quality of the bread itself is what actually “makes” the loaf so special. We use organic flour and it’s a naturally leavened dough with 18 hours of rise time. The result is chewy, dense, not super sweet, but terrifically tasty. Most commercial alternatives which are industrial bread sweetened with nuts, and dried fruit. The Bakehouse, by contrast, is crafting an amazing artisan bread loaded with pecans and raisins. Which is why, I realize now, that the New York Times once said it “redefines the category.”