Cinnamon-Raisin Bread

Were I not in such a rush yesterday, I may have fought Jeff for this last piece of cinnamon-raisin bread. But I was in a rush. I bound down the stairs to get out the door early. I had a 7:45 a.m. interview with the superintendent of St. Louis Public Schools, followed by a full day of writing. Gabi was eating oatmeal. And there Jeff was at the toaster, toasting it up the last slice for breakfast. Or so I thought. He now says he’d eaten the bread already. It was too late to strike a bargain.

That’s okay, I decided. There’s another loaf in the freezer. And, I’d been eating slices of this delicious loaf all week. Last Sunday, I let my appetite take over. I had a strong craving for cinnamon rolls. I baked this bread instead.

If you’re enjoy bread baking, you must try this one. The dough comes together in a smooth, lustrous ball. It’s a dream to work with. As it bakes, it makes the house smell like butter, cinnamon and sugar. The next morning, our house still smelled amazing.

The bread itself is mildly sweet. The swirl of cinnamon and sugar get a little oozy when the bread is warm. Trust me, it’s absolutely yummy.

Cinnamon-Raisin Bread
slightly adapted from Martha Stewart’s Baking Handbook

For the dough:
1 envelope (2 1/4 teaspoons) active dry yeast
2 cups warm milk (about 110 degrees F)
2 pounds 2 ounces (about 6 1/2 cups) all-purpose flour
1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter
1/2 cup sugar
2 large eggs, plus 1 large egg, lightly beaten
2 1/2 teaspoons coarse salt
1 cup raisins
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
Vegetable oil, for bowl and plastic wrap

For the filling:
1 cup sugar
2 tablespoons ground cinnamon
*** You’ll need two 9×5-inch loaf pans

First, make the dough. Pour the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a dough hook. Sprinkle the yeast over the milk and whisk to combine. Add the flour, butter, sugar, 2 eggs and salt. Using the dough hook, mix on low speed until all of the ingredients are well combined, about 3 minutes. Raise the speed a notch, to medium-low, and keep mixing until the dough is uniformly smooth and pulls away from the sides of the bowl, about 3 minutes more.

Turn out dough onto a lightly floured work surface. Pat out dough into a 9-inch round, about 1 1/4 inches thick. Sprinkle it with raisins and cinnamon, and knead the dough just until everything is just incorporated. Place the dough in a lightly oiled bowl. Cover with plastic wrap. Put the bowl in a warm place and let the dough rise until it’s doubled in bulk, about 1 hour.

Return the dough to a lightly floured work surface and pat into a round. Fold it like this: Fold the bottom third of the dough up, the top third down, and the right and the left sides over. Return the dough to the bowl, seam side down, and let rise again until doubled in bulk, about 40 minutes.

Make the filling: Combine the cinnamon and sugar with 2 tablespoons of water in a small bowl. Return the dough to the lightly floured work surface. Divide it in half. Roll out hoe half of the dough to a 12-by-10-inch rectangle. Brush the surface with beaten egg, saving the rest of the egg. Sprinkle with half of the filling. Repeat with the remaining dough and filling.

Butter two loaf pans, 9-by-5 inch pans. With a short end of the rectangle facing you, fold in both long sides of the dough, about 1 inch. Then roll the dough toward you, gently pressing as you go to form a tight log. Gently roll the log back and forth to seal the seam. Place the loaf in a  prepared pan, seam side down. Repeat the the second rectangle. Cover the pans loosely with oiled plastic wrap, and let rest in a warm place until the dough rises just above the rim of the pan, about 30 minutes. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.

Brush the tops of the loaves with beaten egg, and transfer pans to a parchment-lined baking sheet (saving your oven from oozing raisins). Bake for 10 minutes, then tent with foil to prevent over browning. For best results, insert an instant-read thermometer in one of the loafs. Bake for about 45 minutes, or until thermometer reads 190 degrees F. Turn out the bread onto a wire rack to cool completely before slicing. The bread can be kept, wrapped in plastic, at room temperature for up to 4 days.

Makes 2 loaves


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