It’s a cold day here, as March is coming in like a lion, so it seemed like the perfect day to make some Cinnamon Raisin Bread. Plus a warm slice of this bread toasted with butter, or even peanut butter (were wild over here I know 😉 ) is perfection on a cold day. The cinnamony (apparently this isn’t a word, I disagree) scent that fills the house as it bakes is almost as good as eating a slice, and will have you drooling as you wait for the timer. The bonus about this recipe is that it makes two loaves so you can freeze one for later. Or at least no need to feel guilty eating half the loaf under the guise of testing because there is a whole other one just waiting to be eaten. I hope you love this bread as much as I do, and that it brings you some comfort as we all wait for spring to make its appearance (is it just me longing to be outside barefoot in my garden?).
Start by placing your warm water in a bowl, remember if the water is too hot that you don’t find it comfortable, the yeast won’t be happy either. Sprinkle the sugar and active yeast over the surface of the water and set aside about 10 minutes to get frothy.
While the yeast is doing its thing, again a few nice words never hurt, you can get the rest of the bread prepped and ready. Start by placing the butter in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Next scald the warm milk in a saucepan, or just heat it in the microwave, and pour it over the butter into the bowl.
After you’ve poured the milk into the butter give it a few beats to melt the butter. Now add in 2 cups of flour, an egg, and salt. Mix on low speed until it is fully incorporated.
Now peek at the yeast mixture, but don’t be obvious, yeast is shy and hates that,.Check to see if it’s become frothy with lots of bubbles.
Add the yeast mixture and another cup of the flour to the bowl of the stand mixer, mixing on low until everything is blended together.
It should look like this, as if it’s a thick cake batter.
Now add in the raisins, and another cup of the flour. Usually I like to use a mixture of raisins, but I only had the one type on hand today.
Mix on low speed until everything is combined and the raisins are evenly distributed through out the dough.
This is the point you will add in the remainder of the flour, however one word of caution, add the flour about a half a cup at a time. The recipe will say that it needs two more cups but depending on your climate, or even the weather that day, it may not need it all. I found that today I only need 5 cups of flour to make the dough the right texture. This is the one thing with bread making, the more you make it, the more you know what you are looking for. Once you’ve added enough flour that the dough pulls cleanly away from the bowl switch to the hook attachment and knead for about 5 minutes.
Once the dough has been kneaded for 5 minutes, remove from the bowl of the mixer and do a couple hand kneads to finish. Shape the dough into a ball, give it a pat or two for luck (or not), and place in a well oiled bowl. Turning the dough over to coat both sides.
Now cover the bowl with a tea towel and place in a draft free place to rise. The dough should take about 1 1/2 hours to double in size.
Once the dough has doubled divide it in half, if you have a kitchen scale this is good time to pull it out, so you have two equal pieces. I then flatten each half into a rough rectangle to roll out more easily. Make sure you have a well floured surface for rolling out.
Roll out the dough into an 8 x 12 rectangle, repeat with the other half of the dough as well. You should now have two rectangles. In a small bowl, place the brown sugar and cinnamon, and whisk to combine and break up any clumps. Sprinkle half the brown sugar mixture over each rectangle, making sure to leave about a 1″ border all around the outside.
Once the filling has been evenly spread out, it is time to shape our loaves. There are many ways you can do this, but I decided to keep it simple and fool proof (since there is no school today and I have lots of little helpers). I am going to use the same letter fold I used when making the dough for the danish braid. Fold the top half down over the filling to the middle of the rectangle. Then fold the bottom of the dough up and over the top, you should have a long thin rectangle.
Turn the dough so the narrow side is facing you, and with your hands or rolling pin, flatten out the dough so you can easily roll it up.
Now, just like you would a jelly roll cake, start at the narrow end roll the dough pinching the seam together. You can see the seam on the top of my rolled dough in the first picture. Now you want to take the roll of bread and roll it back and forth on your counter. Keep rolling, firmly yet gentle (that is helpful right, lol) until the log is as long as your bread pan. Place the shaped dough into the greased loaf pan, and repeat with the second rectangle of dough. Cover the bread with a tea towel and again leave it to rise for about an hour to an hour and a half. Once the bread has filled the loaf pan it is time to bake in a preheated 350 degree oven. I like to give the bread a quick egg wash before it goes in, to make it golden and shiny, instead of dull.
Bake the bread in the oven for about 45 – 50 minutes, turning the loaf pans halfway though the baking time. Once they are golden brown and sound hollow when knocked on you know they are ready to come out of the oven.
Remove the bread from the loaf pans and cool on a wire rack before slicing. I always try and wait 30 minutes to let the bread cool, but sometimes it is just so hard to wait so even 20 minutes should be long enough. Slice up the bread and enjoy, you will deserve it after all your hard work. By hard work I don’t mean making the bread, I mean fighting the urge to pull it out of the oven too early when that cinnamon and warm bread scent fills your house.
1 1/4 cups warm water
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 tablespoon active dry yeast
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup buttermilk, warmed
1 tablespoon salt
1 large egg, lightly beaten
5 – 6 cups all purpose flour
1 1/2 cup raisins ( normally I like half golden and half dark raisins)
2/3 cups firmly packed brown sugar
4 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
3 tablespoons water
- In a small bowl, add the warm water and sprinkle the yeast and sugar over the top. Stir to dissolve then set aside for about 10 minutes to get foamy.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer, fitted with the paddle attachment, add the butter.
- In a small saucepan over medium heat, scald the milk, then pour the heated milk over the butter into the bowl of the stand mixer.
- Stir on low speed until the butter has melted into the warm milk.
- Add 2 cups of the all purpose flour, the salt, and egg then beat on medium speed until the mixture is creamy. This takes about 1 minute of mixing.
- Now that your yeast mixture is frothy, add it into the flour mixture. Also add in another 1 cup of all purpose flour and beat on medium for another full minute.
- Add the raisins into the dough, and another 1 cup of all purpose flour (for a total of 4 cups so far). Beat on medium until the raisins are evenly distributed throughout the dough.
- Now adding the reaming flour 1/2 cup at a time, and beating between each addition. Once the dough cleanly pulls away from the sides of the bowl you don’t need to add anymore flour, even if you have some leftover. In my case I only needed to use 5 cups of flour.
- When all the flour has been added, switch from the paddle attachment to the dough hook, and knead the mixture for about 5 minutes.
- Once the dough has been kneaded, remove from the bowl and give a couple hand kneads and turns to finish.
- Place the bread dough in a well oiled metal bowl, turning to coat. Cover loosely with a tea towel and place in a draft free location for 1 – 1 1/2 hours or until the dough has doubled in size.
- Near the ending of the proofing time lightly grease two loaf pans and preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
- Make the filling for the bread by putting the brown sugar and cinnamon in a bowl, whisking it to break up any clumps and incorporate the cinnamon.
- Now that the dough is ready, evenly divide the dough in half. Take each half and roughly shape into a small rectangle.
- On a well floured surface, roll out the dough into an 8 x 12 rectangle, repeat with the second piece of dough as well.
- Take half the filling mixture and spread it evenly over the first rectangle, leaving a 1″ border all around the perimeter. Repeat this on the second rectangle with the remaining filling.
- With the first rectangle, make a letter fold by bring the top half of the rectangle and folding it into the centre (see pictures if you need clarification). Now take the bottom half of the rectangle and fold it up on over the first fold.
- You should now have a long thin rectangle, using your hands (or rolling pin) gently flatten out the rectangle to make sure you don’t end up with gaps in your final bread.
- Turn the rectangle 90 degrees so the narrow end is facing you. Starting at the end nearest you roll all the way up as if you are making a jelly roll.
- Once you get to the end, pinch the seam together with the rest of the loaf to create a seal to keep in all the filling.
- Now you just need to roll the loaf until it isn’t quite so stubby and thick (no comment). Elongate the bread by rolling back and forth on the counter until it is the length of the loaf pan.
- Place the shaped loaf into the pan, and repeat with the second rectangle.
- Cover loosely with a tea towel and again allow the dough to rise for about 1 – 1 1/2 hours.
- You will know it’s ready when the loaf pan is filled and the bread is just above the rim of the pan. If you aren’t sure gently press on the dough if it springs back it is ready.
- Make the egg wash by placing the egg and water in a small bowl and whisking to combine. Generously brush the mixture over the exposed areas of the bread.
- Bake the bread in a preheated 350 degree oven for 45 -50 minutes. Turn the loaf pans halfway through the baking time.
- Once they are a golden brown and sound hollow when knocked on they are ready to come out of the oven.
- Carefully remove the loaves from the pans and place on a wire rack to cool for about 20 -30 minutes, then slice up and enjoy.
Note: This bread doesn’t last long in our house, but if you do have some leftover and you are sick of toast (or its starting to go a little stale) it also makes for a lovely french toast. Or just wrap in plastic wrap and put in the freezer for a treat another day.