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Heavenly bread: Cramique loaf

cramique


Belgians love their 'bokes', or sliced bread, and a cramique or raisin loaf is an especially loved treat. 
Cramique is best eaten a few hours after it has come out of the oven, so why not take a stab at baking one yourself? This recipe from Anna Jenkinson and Neil Evans is in the book 'What's Cooking Belgium'. 

For 2 loaves

  • 1 large bowl
  • 2 small bowls
  • 2 bread tins or baking tins

Preparation: 40 minutes
Standing: 2 hours
Cooking: 40-45 minutes

  • 550g plain flour
  • 3 eggs
  • 20g fresh yeast
  • 250g raisins
  • 100g brown sugar
  • 100g soft butter
  • 150ml milk
  • 150ml warm water
  • 1 large pinch of cinnamon

In a small bowl, stir the fresh yeast and sugar into the milk and warm water until the yeast has dissolved. Add a couple of tablespoons of flour and stir until smooth, then set aside for 15 minutes.

Sieve the remaining flour into a large bowl and mix in a generous pinch of cinnamon and the raisins. Lightly beat 2 of the 3 eggs and add to the small bowl containing the yeast.

Stir the liquid and dry ingredients together using either the paddle attachment of an electronic mixer on a slow setting, or gently and gradually by hand. If you are mixing manually, this is best achieved by digging a well in the middle of the flour and filling it with a third of the liquid at a time, drawing the dry mixture in from the edges to the middle until smooth.

The dough must now be allowed to double in size. Leave it in a warm place covered with cling film or a tea towel for about an hour.

Once doubled in size, dice the 100g of soft butter and knead it into the dough. As you do this the dough will reduce in size and make a popping sound as the gases are forced out.

Transfer the dough to greased bread tins or baking tins, filling them no more than halfway, then cover with cling film or a tea towel, and leave in a warm place for about an hour in order to rise again.

Once risen, gently push the dough back into the tins to force out any large air pockets and then lightly brush with some beaten egg.

Place in the middle of a pre-heated oven at 180°C for 40-45 minutes.

There are 2 ways to check if a cramique is cooked: tap the top with a knife handle and if the loaf sounds hollow then it is ready, or insert a skewer into the centre of the cramique and if it comes out clean then it’s ready. Once cooked, remove the cramique from the tin and leave to cool on a wire rack.

Your loaf can be kept for several days in a paper bag in the fridge, and if it becomes dry then it is delicious toasted.

TIP: Make your raisins and sultanas moist and plump by soaking them in water or tea for a few hours or boiling them for 15 minutes. this will make the cramique tastier and help it stay fresh for longer.

Enjoy!

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