Wednesday, March 5, 2014

food: cinnamon raisin bread

For years I have loved a good loaf of cinnamon raisin bread. For years I have tried making my own and failed. Almost every.single.time. (seriously!). My loaf always comes out with a huge hole in the spiral filling (while still good and edible, it's kind of difficult to spread with honey and eat without the honey dripping all down your hand ;)). I came across this gorgeous looking loaf on pinterest and decided to try again. The loaves (it made two) came out perfect, ya'll. Perfect. We ate one loaf in one evening. It was that good. 

I tweaked the recipe a bit (ingredients and process included) - I ended up dividing the dough into two loaves and I think we finally have a go-to cinnamon raisin loaf of bread! Yay! This bread is perfect lightly toasted with a drizzle of fresh honey on it. Enjoy!

This recipe does take pretty much all day to make. The dough requires two rising times of about 2.5 hours each and then baking time. But it's well worth it. So worth it.
Cinnamon Raisin Bread - adapted from It's My Side of Life
1 cup Milk
6 Tablespoons butter
2-1/2 teaspoons Active Dry Yeast
2 whole eggs
1/3 cup Sugar
3-1/4 cups  Flour
1 teaspoon salt

For filling:
3 Tbsp. butter, softened
1/2 cup raisins
1/3 cup sugar
2 Tablespoons Cinnamon

For topping:
1 Tbsp. butter, melted
1 Tbsp. sugar

In a small saucepan, heat together milk and 6 Tbsp. butter. Mixture should start bubbling with tiny bubbles, but NOT boil. Remove from heat immediately, set aside to cool to warm. Add yeast and stir gently. Allow yeast to proof (bubble up into a foamy mixture) for about 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, mix together 3-1/2 cups flour and 1 tsp. salt. Set aside. In a large bowl, beat together eggs and 1/3 cup sugar until thoroughly combined (use a hand mixer). Add yeast mixture and continue to beat until well incorporated.

Add half of the flour mixture in, and beat on medium speed. Add in the other half and continue to beat -- it gets super hard to beat at this point because the dough is so thick, so I kind of lifted my mixer out of the bowl a bit to just try and mix up a little of the mixture at a time. Add a couple of tablespoons of flour at a time if the dough is too sticky - do NOT add too much flour or it will become too dense :(

Once I was finished mixing, I lifted the dough out of the bowl, used olive oil (or extra melted butter) to coat the bowl and then put the dough back in. Cover with plastic wrap and allow to rise 2 to 2-1/2 hours in a warm and draft-free place. The dough should double in size.

While dough is rising, combine 1/3 cup sugar, 2 Tbsp. cinnamon and raisins in a bowl. After it is finished rising, pour the dough (do not punch down) onto a floured surface. Using a rolling pin, gently roll dough into an 18"x24" rectangle. Use a rubber spatula and spread the softened butter onto the dough. Sprinkle with the cinnamon-sugar-raisin mixture. 

Beginning at a short end, roll the dough tightly. I pulled the dough and stretched it taught as I was rolling it - I think this is what helped prevent the big hole in the center of my loaf from happening ;). Pinch the seam to seal. Cut the dough-log in half so you have two loaves. Tuck and pinch under the edges. Place each in a greased loaf pan. Brush melted topping butter (1 Tbsp.) on each loaf, gently. Sprinkle with sugar. Cover with plastic wrap and allow to rise 2 to 2-1/2 more hours. Loaves should puff up, but they won't be huge.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Once loaves have risen, place in oven (remove plastic wrap). Bake for 30-35 minutes, until top crust is a dark golden brown and loaf sounds hollow when tapped. I started checking on mine every couple of minutes at about 25 minutes. Immediately remove from pans and place on a cooling rack. Brush with a little bit of extra butter if desired. I let mine cool like this for about 10 minutes and then turned them onto their sides (once again, trying to prevent a huge hole from developing in the loaf ;)).

To store (if there's any left ;)), wrap tightly in plastic wrap and keep in a cool, dry place.

Enjoy! :)


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