Bread-making is the most relaxing and rewarding use of my time, I’ve decided. Without much effort, today I produced two perfect loaves of cinnamon-swirl raisin bread, and then promptly devoured several slices. I couldn’t imagine a better Thursday morning!
Cinnamon-Raisin Swirl Bread:
(makes two loaves)
- 1 cup raisins
- 1 cup warm water
- 1 Tbs active dry yeast
- 1 cup milk
- 1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted
- 2 tsp salt
- 5 1/2 – 6 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/2 cup granulated white sugar
- 1 1/2 tablespoons cinnamon
- 1 large egg beaten with 2 teaspoons warm water
In a small bowl, soak the raisins with hot water, letting them plump for at least 10 minutes. Drain and set aside. Toss the raisins with a few tablespoons of flour to absorb any residual moisture.
Pour a cup of warm water into a large mixing bowl, and sprinkle the yeast on top, letting it sit for a few minutes before stirring to fully dissolve the yeast in the water.
Stir in the milk, melted butter, and salt into the mixing bowl, then add 5 1/2 cups of flour and knead to form a shaggy dough. If the dough is really sticky, add a little bit more flour. I had to add at least 1 1/2 cups of flour. You’ll know the dough is ready when it forms a ball without sagging and quickly springs back when poked. Gradually add the raisins to the dough, and make sure they are mixed in well.
Place the dough in an oiled bowl and cover. Let rise in a warm place until doubled in size, about an hour. (I put mine in the oven with the light on.) Meanwhile, combine the sugar and cinnamon in a small bowl and beat together the egg and water in a second bowl.
Once the dough has risen, divide it into two pieces. Working with one piece at a time, roll the dough out on the counter. It should be slightly less wide than your bread pan and as long as you can make it.
Brush the entire surface of the dough with egg wash, then sprinkle generously with cinnamon and sugar. Starting at the end closest to you, roll up the dough. When you get to the top, pinch the seam closed. Transfer the loaf to your loaf pan seam-side down. Repeat with the other half of the dough. Let the loaves rise until mounded over the top of the pan, about 30-40 minutes.
Brush the top of the dough with some of the remaining egg wash, and bake at 375° for 40-45 minutes until golden brown. Allow them to cool completely before slicing. Enjoy!