Tuesday, January 17, 2012
As my grandmother would say, "I'll tell you what..." if you had a loaf of this you'd be hard pressed not to eat an entire loaf in one sitting. This Fine Cooking recipe is chuck a block full of plumped, juicy raisins that are added into the dough and a ton of cinnamon, added to the dough and then as part of the filling. There is absolutely no skimping.
A couple of caveats: This is a sticky dough, but not as wet as a batter bread. Just stay with the directions; more flour is added later on, but only when it's time to roll it out.
This dough has three risings. I confess to messing up and only doing two. Now I'm not sure if it's my cool New England kitchen or the recipe itself (minus the middle rising or could it be the instant yeast had gone past date?), but this bread did not rise well at all for me. My warm place is setting the loaf pans in a plastic tent in the sun on my kitchen table, and that usually works very well. When I saw the dough was still not rising, I put my oven on warm, left it on for about 30 seconds, and put the pans of dough in the oven for about 2 hours. Still the dough didn't rise to bread dough filling the pan. I baked it anyway, and the bread rose a little more while baking, but still not to the height of the big loaves I made here. It took me a couple of minutes to figure out that my older recipe called for double the flour, etc., but not nearly the amount of raisins and cinnamon, smiles. These Fine Cooking loaves are apparently meant to be small.
These loaves are dense. In reading the reviews at Fine Cooking, I see that another baker made the same observation, so I want to think (smiles) this is to be expected.
In the final analysis, this is truly a very good, almost superb, cinnamon-raisin bread. My chief complaint of other recipes is that the cinnamon and raisins were skimpy and fell out of the rolled bread. My chief complaint with this one is the heaviness of the smallish loaves, which is richly overcome by the abundance of raisins and cinnamon. Plumping the raisins and adding them directly to the dough along with a generous portion of cinnamon and sugar is positively genius.
Cinnamon-Swirl Raisin Bread
(found at http://www.finecooking.com/recipes/cinnamon-swirl-raisin-bread.aspx)
2 cups dark raisins
light-flavored oil to grease the bowl (such as canola or grapeseed)
4 cups (18 ounces) unbleached, all-purpose flour plus more for dusting (I used King Arthur's flour)
6 tablespoons sugar, divided
6 tablespoons cinnamon, divided
1 packet (1/4 ounce or 2 1/4 teaspoon) instant yeast
3/4 cup lukewarm water
2 teaspoons salt
1/2 cup whole milk
1 large egg
3 1/2 ounces (7 tablespoons) unsalted butter, softened, plus more for the pans
First plump up the raisins. Put them in a large measuring cup or bowl and add enough hot water to cover them. Allow to sit for five minutes and then drain them.
If you are fortunate enough to have a stand mixer, this would be a good time to use it, otherwise you can do this by hand, it's just a little work.
In a large bowl, combine the flour, 2 tablespoons each of the sugar and cinnamon, the yeast, and salt. Mix (or whisk) until well combined. Add the milk, egg, tablespoons of the butter, and 3/4 cup room temperature water. Mix until well combined, until the dough comes together. Continue to mix until the dough is smooth and slightly sticky. Add the raisins to the dough and gently knead in by hand.