Sunday, November 17, 2013

Cinnamon Raisin Bread

You know that craving that sometimes takes over your whole brain and no matter what you try to do to get rid of it, it just nags and nags at your taste buds until you find yourself drooling?  That has been me with the thought of cinnamon raisin bread for several weeks now.  I tried satisfying this craving by purchasing a loaf of the stuff at the store, but it failed miserably.  It was scrawny and flavorless and basically tasted like cardboard...with raisins.  No umpf.  No pizazz. 

I've been messing around with yeast products lately and making lots of homemade breads and other carb'y yummy things, so why can't *I* make a loaf of cinnamon raisin bread? 

I can make this, right?!

Do you want to know why?  Because I'm lazy!  And, every time the thought entered my mind (basically as often as when 16 year boys when they think about sex), I either was in the middle of something, or didn't have enough eggs, or not enough milk, or I needed to clean my kitchen, any other excuse here.

But, the craving was too great.

Let's break out the labor this recipe will generate.  Rising times of 1 hour, 40 minutes and 30 minutes.  Baking time of 45 minutes.  That's close to 3 hours, and doesn't even factor in mixing, kneading and cooling.

Was it worth it?

Fuck yeah. 

Cinnamon Raisin Bread
(makes 2 loaves)

For the dough:
2 1/4 tsp of dry, active yeast (or one envelope)
2 cups milk, warmed
6 1/2 cups of flour, plus more for dusting
1 stick of butter, plus more to lubricate pans
1/2 cup sugar
2 large eggs, plus 1 large egg, lightly beaten
2 1/2 tsp salt
1 cup of raisins
1 tbsp ground cinnamon

For the filling:
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 tbsp ground cinnamon
2 tbsp water

In the large bowl sprinkle yeast over warmed milk and whisk slightly until combined.  Set aside.

Take dried raisins and place in a small bowl covered with hot water.  Set aside.

In the bowl of an electric mixer with a dough hook attachment, add flour, sugar, 2 eggs and salt. Start mixer on low speed and slowly pour in milk mixture.  Once combined, raise the speed to medium and continue to mix until the dough is smooth and pulls away from the sides of the bowl. 

Turn dough onto a lightly floured surface. Pat dough into a 9 inch round, approximately 1'' thick.  Drain raisins from water and pat dry with paper towel.  Place in the middle of the dough round.  Sprinkle raisins with ground cinnamon.  Knead entire mixture until raisins and cinnamon are incorporated.  Place dough ball in a lightly oiled bowl and cover with plastic wrap.  Let rise 1 hour.  (Dough will be doubled in bulk.)

After first rise, return dough to lightly floured work surface and pat into a round.  Fold dough upon itself like a present, and return dough to the bowl with the seam sides down.  Let rise another 40 minutes. 

Near the end of the second rise, combine all of the ingredients for the filling in a small bowl.  Prepare your 2 loaf pans with butter.

Return the dough to a lightly floured surface and divide in half.  Roll one half into a 10 x 12 inch rectangle.  Brush with beaten egg and sprinkle with half of the filling mixture evenly, all the way to the ends.  Fold 3 sides of your rectangle in about an inch or two and tightly roll down from the top, creating a log.  Place log seam side down in the prepared loaf pan.

Roll from the top, down.

Repeat with second half of dough and filling. 

Cover pans loosely with plastic wrap and let rise for the third and final time, for approximately 30 minutes. 

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

Brush the tops of the loaves with remaining beaten egg and place loaf pans on a lined baking sheet.*  Bake for 45 minutes, rotating half way through baking time.  Remember to use a foil tent if the tops start to brown faster than you'd like. 

Turn bread out onto a wire rack to cool completely before slicing...if you can.  I couldn't.  I waited about 10 minutes in misery before deciding that a burnt mouth wouldn't be too bad.

That's a whole lotta goodness right there!

How best to describe the taste?  Hmmmmm....soft, soft bread, juicy raisins and gooey cinnamon sugar filling.  It tastes like heaven.  Like, when I think of relaxing on the cloudy surface of heaven looking down at mere mortals while they are showering, I can see myself feasting on this bread.  It's that good.
*I don't know why I didn't do this.  My loaves split slightly and I had a hot sugar eruption.  If I used a baking sheet, it would've caught the mess so that I wouldn't have to clean my oven.  Grrrr....

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