Cinnamon Raisin Bread

Warning: this bread is incredibly addictive. My husband and I had it every morning for breakfast… and then I had to make more as soon as it ran out. We went through three loaves in a much shorter time period than I care to admit.

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I have been looking for a while for a really good cinnamon raisin bread recipe. I usually found recipes for enriched bread with a raisin and cinnamon swirl, which, while delicious, were never “cinnamony” enough for me. About a year ago, however, my in-laws gave me Peter Reinhart’s The Bread Baker’s Apprentice. I like that Reinhart explains the science behind the bread baking, and I have used the book extensively.

This bread is chock full of raisins, cinnamon, and sugar. It is perfect toasted or not, with a generous smear of butter.

Cinnamon Raisin Bread (adapted from The Bread Baker’s Apprentice)

Bread
3 1/2 C (16 oz) unbleached bread flour
4 tsp (.66 oz) granulated sugar
1 1/4 tsp (.31 oz) salt
2 tsp (.22 oz) instant yeast
1 1/4 tsp (.16 oz) ground cinnamon
1 large (1.65 oz) egg, slightly beaten
2 tbsp (1 oz) shortening, at room temperature
1/2 C (4 oz) whole milk, at room temperature
3/4 C (6 oz) water, at room temperature
1 1/2 C (9 oz) raisins, rinsed, drained, and patted dry
1 C (4 oz) chopped walnuts (optional, I left them out)

Cinnamon Sugar Swirl/Topping
1/2 C granulated sugar
2 tbsp ground cinnamon

1 tbsp melted butter

Mix together flour, sugar, salt, yeast, and cinnamon in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the mixing paddle. Add the egg, shortening, whole milk, and water and mix until combined.

Switch to the dough hook and knead on medium speed until “soft and pliable, tacky but not sticky” (6-8 minutes). Add flour or water as necessary to maintain the correct texture. Add raisins (and walnuts, if using) during the last two minutes of kneading. Transfer dough to a lightly oiled bowl, rolling the dough around in the bowl to coat it with oil, and cover the bowl loosely with oiled plastic wrap.

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Leave in a warm place to rise for two hours or until doubled. If it is the middle of winter, like it is here, and there’s nowhere warm in your house, try this: turn on the oven for a few minutes, then shut it off. Allow the dough to rise in the warm (but not hot) oven.

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Once the dough has risen, punch it down then divide it into two equal pieces and roll into rectangles approximately 8 inches by five inches.

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Mix together the cinnamon and sugar filling in a small bowl. Sprinkle a generous layer on the rectangle of dough.

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Roll the dough tightly starting at a 5-inch side. Place the rolls into a loaf tin and cover loosely with plastic wrap. Allow to rise until the dough peeks over the top of the tin, 60-90 minutes.

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Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Bake the loaves for 40-50 minutes, rotating halfway through if your oven heats unevenly. The loaves should be 190 degrees in the middle, golden brown on top, and should sound hollow when tapped on the bottom. During the last few minutes of baking, melt the remaining butter.

Remove the loaves from their pans and brush melted butter on the top of the loaves. Roll the buttered tops in the remaining cinnamon-sugar mixture. Allow the loaves to cool for at least an hour.

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