By now, we’re sure all our readers are busy making bread dough once a week so that they can have fresh tasty homemade bread, right? Okay, maybe not every week (although we really do make bread every five to nine days), but perhaps once in a while. And, sometimes, you’d like to have something other than plain bread, but not quite as exotic as the Pecan-Gorgonzola. So, how about that breakfast staple: cinnamon raisin bread?
One of the things to watch out for in making cinnamon raisin bread is not to add the cinnamon to the bread dough. Cinnamon affects the yeast and slows the rising process. That’s why you always see the bread with the swirls of cinnamon, not throughout the dough.
Makes 1 loaf
We always buy organic raisins. They aren’t that much more expensive, and we think it helps prevent pesticides and other chemicals from draining off the fields. Cinnamon, we buy in a big container. You might read that it loses its flavor after a while, and that might be true, but we haven’t noticed. Besides, you can always increase the amount of cinnamon that your recipe calls for to make up for the flavor loss. Butter is unsalted. Finally, bread dough. You can pretty much use any mild- flavored bread dough that you like. We’re partial to our basic bread, since we do make it often.
Procedure in detail:
Grease a 5 x 9 loaf pan. We happen to use a glass pan, but a metal pan will work just as well.
Spread dough. While you could use a rolling pin, we find that the dough we make is supple enough that we can just stretch and pull our dough into a rectangular shape. But, do what you have to get your dough into a rectangle about 9 by 12 inches.
Add everything. Now spread your raisins evenly across the rectangle of dough, then sprinkle with your cinnamon, and, finally, place the butter shavings over it all. You can, if you want a sweeter bread, add about 1/4 cup of brown sugar with the cinnamon. We do, sometimes. Try to keep about 1 inch of the far edge clear of toppings.
Roll. Now, grasp the dough along the narrow edge and roll it up much as you’d roll up a towel. When you get to the end, seal up the roll by pressing the dough together. Don’t worry, the seam will be the bottom of your finished loaf.
Place in pan. Now, lift your roll, and, if need be, scrunch it and fold the ends under a bit to fit in the loaf pan and place it seam side down in the pan.
Let rise. Cover with a damp towel, and let rise for 1 to 2 hours, or until not quite doubled. It can take longer because of the presence of the cinnamon and raisins.
Preheat oven to 400°F.
Slash. Right before you pace your loaf in the oven, cut a slash down the center. We snipped along the top with kitchen shears. In retrospect, we would have been better off using a razor or a sharp knife. The slash was ragged and not quite deep enough.
Bake. Place the pan in the center of the oven and bake for 40 minutes, or until the top is golden brown, and the bread sounds hollow when thumped on the bottom.
Cool. Remove bread from pan, and let cool on a rack. If you cut too early, you’ll squish the loaf.
Enjoy. We find it nice to slice these loaves in half and freeze. That way, we can take out half a loaf and eat it before it gets stale.
In general, the bread made into loaves does not have as nice a crust as the boules, so, while it’s still a good bread, and easily beats anything you’ll find in a plastic bag at the store, it only gets four stars, Just because the crust could be crustier. Next time, we’ll shape it into a boule and bake it in the dutch oven.