Saturday, May 22, 2010

Cinnamon Raisin Bread (aka A Way to Make the Whole House Smell Wonderful)

To me, one of the best smells in the entire world is cinnamon. No matter what time of year it is, what kind of mood you're in, or what type of sweet you feel like eating, cinnamon is the superhero of the spice world. So when I combined the magical aroma of cinnamon with they heavenly smell of rising yeast to make this cinnamon raisin-swirl bread, the entire house smelled amazing for the whole afternoon.

This bread definitely took quite a bit of time to make: an 1 1/2 to rise, another 1 1/2 rising in the pan after the loaf was formed, and then 45 minute in the oven, but it was worth it. It turned out looking beeeautiful, and it tasted light and sweet, too. 

The dough takes a bit of work, but aim to have your dough springy (when you lightly poke it, it will make an indent, but then retake its original form), and not too sticky.  I found that I had to use almost the entire amount of recommended flour to make my dough not be sticky.

In order to get the beautiful swirl shape when you cut into the loaf, you treat the dough sort of like a jellyroll: put the cinnamon/sugar mix and raisins on the rolled out dough, and then start at a long end and roll it all up! Make sure you pinch the seam closed, so that it won't fall apart later.

When you have made your jellyroll-ed dough, put it in your bread pan and let it rise again (so much rising!). Once it has risen, brush the top with egg and sprinkle with the leftover cinnamon/sugar mix. The egg on the crust made it a little crunchy, but I thought it gave the crust a nice, varied texture.

Then you put it in the oven and bake it until it looks wonderful and your whole house smells like cinnamon - yum!

Cinnamon Raisin Bread Recipe
Adapted from Joy of Cooking

2 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast 
3 tablespoons warm (105 F to 115 F) water 
1 cup warm (105 F to 115 F) milk
5 tablespoons melted butter
3 tablespoons sugar
1 large egg
1 teaspoon salt
2 cups bread flour
1 1/2 to 2 cups all purpose flour

1/2 cup raisins
2 tablespoons brown sugar
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 1/2 teaspoons melted butter
1 egg

1. Combine yeast and warm water in a large mixing bowl and let stand until the yeast is dissolved, about 5 minutes.
2. Add milk, 5 tablespoons melted butter, 3 tablespoons sugar, 1 egg, and 1 teaspoon salt. Mix by hand or on low speed for 1 minute.
3. Gradually stir in bread flour. Gradually add all-purpose flour until the dough is moist but not sticky. Knead for 10 minutes until the dough is smooth and elastic.
4. Transfer the dough to an oiled bowl and turn it over once to coat with oil. Cover loosely with a damp towl and let rise in a warm place (75 F to 80 F) until doubled in volume, 1 to 1 1/5 hours.
5. While dough finishes rising, place raisins in a small saucepan with enough water to cover by 1/2 inch. Bring to a boil, drain well, and let cool. In a small bowl, stir together brown sugar and cinnamon.
6. Grease an 8 1/2 x 4 1/2-inch (6 cup) loaf pan. Punch the dough down. Using a rolling pin, roll the dough into an 8-inch-wide rectangle, about 1/2 inch thick. Brush the surface of the dough with 1 1/2 teaspoons melted butter.
7. Sprinkle all but 2 teaspoons of the cinnamon mixture over the dough, then spread the raisins evenly over the surface. Starting from one 8-inch side, roll up the dough as you would a jelly roll. Pinch the seam closed. Place seam side down in the pan. Cover loosely with oiled plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place until doubled in volume, 1 to 1 1/12 hours.
8. Preheat the oven to 375 F. Whisk 1 egg and brush over the top of the loaf. Sprinkle the top of the dough with the remaining cinnamon mixture.
9. Bake 40-45 minutes until the crust is deep golden brown and the bottom of the loaf sounds hollow when tapped. Remove the loaf from the pan to a rack. Let cool completely before slicing.

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