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Monday, October 25, 2010

Cinnamon Swirl Raisin Bread

Drama Queen was in the mood for some raisin bread the other what was I to do?  Why, make some of course!  Since the yeasties and I have only been tight for less than a year, I didn't yet have a good raisin bread recipe under my belt.  So I went on the hunt...and found one that claimed of course to be "the greatest raisin bread recipe in the whole wide world" basically.  I'll admit, it did sound good...and all of the reviews that I read were pretty positive.  The only downside was that it used a whole lot of white flour and white sugar.  I do try to be healthyish whenever possible, without sacrificing flavor, so I made a few modifications...using half whole wheat flour and subbing honey for the white sugar in the dough and brown sugar for the white sugar in the swirl (which I know from experience works way better).  I used both purple and yellow raisins this time, but you could use all of one of a mix of others, if that's what you have.  I think it's important to soak the raisins, as well.  DQ actually commented on how juicy the raisins in each bite were!  This is definitely a favorite and we'll make it does make 3 loaves...but you can freeze them or give them away.  Need I say it's fabulous when toasted?  Didn't think so...

Cinnamon Swirl Raisin Bread
from the kitchen of girlichef
inspired by/adapted from this recipe
yield: 3 loaves

1½ c. milk, scalded & cooled to lukewarm
1 c. lukewarm water
½ c. honey
1 Tbs. + 1 tsp. yeast
3 eggs, at room temperature
4 oz. unsalted butter, at room temperature
4 c. whole wheat flour + extra for bench
4 c. unbleached ap flour
1 tsp. sea salt
1 c. raisins, plumped in hot water & drained

cinnamon swirl
1 Tbs. milk, lukewarm
1 c. brown sugar, not packed
2 Tbs. ground cinnamon

~2 Tbs. melted butter (optional)

Begin by putting the scalded milk, water, and honey in a very large bowl.  Sprinkle yeast over the surface. Let it bloom and become creamy, ~10 minutes.  In the meantime, whisk together the butter and eggs.  Once the 10 minutes is up, whisk in the egg/butter mixture.  Stir in the flours and salt with a wooden spoon.  Fold in raisins.    Turn out onto a well-floured surface and knead until the dough becomes silky and workable.  Dough may seem a bit sticky at first...simply add more flour to the bench as needed, using a bench scraper to lift dough in between if it starts to stick.  This should take ~10-15 minutes.  Form into a ball and place into an oiled bowl, turning once to coat.  Cover with plastic wrap or a clean kitchen towel and let raise until doubled in size, ~1½ hrs.  This dough is superman...just look!!!
Punch dough down.  Lightly flour your work surface again and turn dough out.  Gently roll the dough into a very large rectangle-ish, approximately 24"x12".  Combine the sugar and cinnamon.  Gently rub the milk across the whole surface of the dough, then sprinkle the cinnamon and sugar mixture evenly over the moistened dough.
Roll the dough (jellyroll style), keeping it as tight as possible.
Cut the dough into three even sections, ~8" each.
Pinch the open edges together and tuck underneath the dough.  Place in well-greased loaf pans.  I tried two different sizes, both of which worked just fine...but I prefer the smaller, skinner one which measures about 4¼" W x 8½" H x 2¾" Deep.  That said, it was just the aesthetics, so use the loaf pan you already have if it's a different size.  Cover with plastic or towel and let rise until doubled in size, ~45 minutes.
Again...this loaf is so superman...rises up all big and beautiful...and fast!  Preheat the oven to 350° F. during last 20 minutes or so of rise time.
Bake in your preheated oven for ~45 minutes, or until golden (should register ~185° F., if you're temping it).
Let bread cool in the pans on a rack for ~10 minutes.
If you want, now is the time to brush the top of the loaves with a bit of melted butter.  The butter gives it a pretty sheen, but it doesn't add or take away from the loaf in the end.  I think if you're going to store it, I'd leave the butter off.
Turn the loaves out of the pans to finish cooling.
Once it's cool, you can wrap it well and freeze it, if you wish.  Or give some away...your neighbors will appreciate.  I know this from personal experience.  Or slice in and take a bite of cinnamon raisin bliss!
Our next raisin bread loaf will be an oatmeal loaf- no swirl.  We'll compare and let you know the results!!

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