The night before you want to bake the bread, feed your starter, so that it will be ripe and ready to bake. Take 4 oz. of starter and add 4 oz. each of flour and water. Mix well, cover and set aside overnight. This will take about 8~10 hours, depending on the conditions in your kitchen. In the morning, the starter should be bubbly, with a fresh, fruity aroma and not yet receding.
In the morning, in a large mixing bowl or the bowl of the stand mixer, combine bread & whole wheat flours, sourdough starter and lukewarm water. Mix well either with hand or with a dough hook, until they are well combined and the flour is thoroughly moistened. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap or kitchen towel and rest in a warm area for 20 minutes.
After 20 minutes, stir in the honey and salt on the slowest speed or by hand*. Once they are incorporated, turn up the mixer speed and knead the dough for 2~3 minutes. If you are kneading by hand, this is a wet dough, resist the urge to add more flour. The dough will be quite sticky, that is OK. Cover the bowl and let the dough rise for 30 minutes.
Adding Add-ins (optional):
After 30 minutes, turn the dough out onto a well-floured surface. Using floured hands, lightly pat the dough out into a rough rectangle, about 9"x12". Sprinkle the raisins evenly on top. Using a bench scraper or you hands, fold the dough into thirds over the raisins, patting the dough lightly to remove any excess flour as you fold.
Now pat the dough into rectangle again sealing the raisins, and sprinkle with the walnuts. Use a bench scraper or your hands, fold the dough in thirds in the opposite direction. This is a sticky dough at this stage, but it will smooth out as it rises and is folded repeatedly. Cover and set aside in a warm area for 30 minutes
Stretch and Fold:
This step build the dough strength as well as redistribute the carbon dioxide produced by the yeast. With well-floured hands, pat the dough out to a rough rectangle. Using a metal bench scraper, fold the dough in thirds, as you would a business letter. Use your hands or a pastry brush to pat away any excess flour. You will have a horizontal strip of dough. Again using your bench scraper or your hands, fold the dough, but this time in the opposite direction. You will be left with a packet of dough to return to the bowl. Cover the bowl and set it aside to rise for 30 minutes.Perform total 4 sets of stretch and folds spaced out by 30 minutes. Make sure to place the dough back in the warm area after each fold.
After the stretch and folding, the dough is ready to shape. On a floured work surface, scrape the dough and divide it in half. Pull the edges of each half into the center to form a rough round. Let the dough rest, rough side up, on a floured surface for 15~20 minutes. This rest will allow you to shape the dough more firmly.While the dough is resting, place a linen tea towel* in 2 bowls or colanders or round baskets. If you have bannetons or brotforms, use them. Heavily flour them with either rice flour or bread flour and set aside until ready to use.
After 20 minutes, it is time for final shape. Using floured hands, turn the dough over so that seam of the shaped loaf is on the bottom. Begin tightening the surface by pulling the loaf toward you repeatedly on the work surface. Make sure that the dough is slightly taut and uniformly round. The goal is equal tension all over the loaf's surface. Place the shaped boules in the prepared bannetons or other proofing baskets. Cover them well with plastic wrap and let them rest in a warm place for 2~2½ hours. You will know that the bread is ready to bake when you poke it gently with a floured finger, it should fill back in slowly not quickly.If you prefer to bake the loaves the next day, then proof for 1 hour and then place the bowls in the fridge for overnight bulk fermentation.
About 30~40 minutes before you're ready to bake, place a cast iron combo cooker or a Dutch oven with lid on the middle rack of the oven. Preheat the oven to 450°F.
Turn the boules out of the bowls onto a piece of parchment. Using a sharp knife or blade, slash them.
Wearing oven mitts, remove the hot pan from the oven and carefully transfer the bread, parchment and all into the pan. Place the lid on top and bake for 15 minutes.Carefully remove the lid and lower the oven temperature to 425°F and bake for another 25~30 minutes, or until the loaf is deep brown and registers an internal temperature of 205~210°F.
Carefully remove the baked bread onto a wire rack and cool completely for at least 1 hour before slicing. Repeat with the second loaf.
If you are kneading by hand, this is a wet dough, resist the urge to add more flour. The dough will be quite sticky, that is OK.
I highly recommend that you weigh your ingredients for this recipe.
Make sure to use bread flour and not all purpose flour because it has higher protein and works well in this recipe.
If the dried fruit are too dry, then soak them in warm water for at least 1 hour before using them.
Warm spot in the house is where the temperature is between 70~80°F, usually the laundry room or over the radiator or near a window.
Make sure to preheat the cast iron pan or Dutch oven in the oven to ensure that you the bread forms the lovely crust.
It is important to choose a smooth-textured fabric or your bread dough will get stuck to the material. Linen or cotton work best.
Please note that the oven temperature needs to be reduced after the first 15 minutes of baking and the lid comes off too at this point.
If you prefer to bake the loaves the next day, then proof for 1 hour at room temperature. Then place the bowls in the fridge for overnight bulk fermentation. Bake as per the recipe.
You can leave the dough for bulk fermentation for up to 24 hours but not more than that.
To store the leftover bread:
Slice completely cooled bread, then either wrap it in plastic or foil and put it in a freezer safe ziploc bag. Can be stored for up to a month in the freezer.
For the leftover slices, store them well wrapped in a ziploc bag for up to 2 days at room temperature.