23 December 2007

Beorn's Honey Bread

This outstanding recipe has been in my family for years. It is sweet without being cakey, and is wonderful toasted, with butter and honey. I am fairly certain that this exact recipe is what Beorn served to Bilbo and the dwarves.

1 pkg active dry yeast
1 1/3 cups honey
1/3 cup sultanas or golden raisins
2 large eggs
3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp sea salt
2 to 2 1/2 Tbsp vegetable oil
3/4 cup warm water

In a large bowl, combine yeast, 3/4 cup warm water, and honey. Let stand 5 minutes to soften yeast.

Put sultanas in a small bowl, and cover with hot or boiling water. Set aside.

In another small bowl, beat eggs; cover and chill.

Once yeast has softened, add all but 1 Tbsp of egg, and 1 1/2 cup flour, salt, and oil. Beat until batter is stretchy. Add remaining flour. Drain sultanas, add. Stir with a wooden spoon until dough is well moistened.

Scrape dough onto a lightly floured board and knead until smooth and elastic; about 10 minutes. Add flour as needed to prevent sticking. Rinse, dry, and oil bread bowl; turn dough in bowl to oil top. Cover dough and let rise in a warm place until doubled in size, about 1 hour.

Turn out dough on a lightly floured bowl to expel air. Shape in a rope about two feet long. If dough is so elastic it shrinks back, let rest a few minutes and then continue.

Oil a 9" or 10" springform pan with removable rim. Coil dough to pan rim. Cover and let stand until puffy, about 20 to 30 minutes. Uncover and gently brush dough with reserved egg.

Bake in 325 degree oven, on rack about 1/3 distance from bottom, until dark golden brown. Let cool in pan.

Best served with butter and honey, or fresh strawberries, and lots of tea.

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