Monday, March 22, 2010

Cinnamon Raisin Bread

Despite my lukewarm attitude toward cinnamon, I’ve always been a huge fan of cinnamon raisin bread – especially when it has a cinnamon sugar swirl in the middle, all the better for nuggets of butter to nestle in to make the sweetest combination of fat, gluten, and carbs conceivable.

I thought that husband didn’t like cinnamon raisin bread, so imagine my surprise when I got back from my trip to find that he had eaten his way through most of a loaf (from the store) in my absence. Clearly, we had been suffering from grievous miscommunication on the issue. Resolving it provided all the encouragement I needed to make my own.

This process was less linear than anticipated. I started with the recipe suggested in The Bread Baker's Apprentice, but it just didn’t suit. It made two tiny loaves or one large one; I wanted one medium loaf, which is just about what we can eat up before it goes stale or moldy. It took a few tries before I hit upon the right combination in terms of flavor, texture, and size. By “a few,” I mean “about five.”

That is to say that this recipe has been well-tested, especially by my standards.

Cinnamon Raisin Bread (with or without a cinnamon sugar swirl)

3 ½ cups bread flour (or all-purpose flour plus one tablespoon vital wheat gluten, which is what I used)
3 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons yeast
¾ teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1-2 tablespoons malted milk powder (optional)
1 ½ tablespoons butter, melted
½ cup milk
½ cup water
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 cup raisins

For cinnamon swirl (optional)
¼ cup white sugar
2 teaspoons cinnamon
dash salt

Mix together all the dry dough ingredients (except raisins) in a large bowl or the bowl of your stand mixer. Mix milk, water, and butter, and heat in microwave until about 115 degrees (warm-lukewarm). Mix the egg into the liquids, then pour into the dry ingredients.

Stir together with spoon, and then knead, either by hand or using a dough hook in a stand mixer, for 5-10 minutes or until smooth and elastic – you can add more water if the dough is too dry, or more flour if it’s too moist. Toward the end of the kneading time, stir in the raisins.

Let rise in a warm place for an hour or hour and a half until doubled.

Punch down. If using cinnamon swirl, mix together sugar, cinnamon, and salt in a small bowl. Roll the dough into a large rectangle. Pour the cinnamon mixture evenly over the rectangle and roll up into a loaf that will fit in a normal-sized loaf pan.

Place into greased loaf pan and let rise an hour or hour and a half until doubled.

Bake at 350 for 30-45 minutes or until hollow when thumped and golden brown. It only takes half an hour in my oven, but my oven: crazy hot.
So for me, this is it: this is what I had been striving for the other four or so times that I made raisin bread. None of the other loaves was a chore to eat, but this was the first one that I tasted and experienced a “eureka” moment. It’s soft and light and goes so well with just about anything.

I particularly recommend buttered slices with Swiss cheese, which I brought with me for lunch several days. I just wish that cinnamon didn’t give me heartburn every time.

Printable recipe here.  I plan to submit this to Yeastspotting
I am rather less than diligent about the position of the cinnamon swirl.


  1. You can tell a bread baker is looking at your pictures when their first thoughts are: "wow! gorgeous crust".

    Your loaf looks like perfection, good job making it over and over until you got it just right!

  2. Thanks! I am particular like that. I'm glad you can appreciate it as a fellow baker!

  3. I am seriously inspired by all of your breadmaking. It's something I'm still a total amateur at but each time I see one of your loaves I think "maybe I could do it?"

    I'm determined to give some bread a go this weekend and this might just be the recipe for it! Thanks!

  4. Of course you could do it! Once you get a feel for how warm the liquid should be, it's actually pretty hard to ruin a loaf of bread. My next loaf (which will pop up on Thursday) was even more improvised and was v. tasty.

    I hope it comes out perfectly for you! The main thing to remember is that bread is very forgiving -- if the dough seems to wet, you can almost always safely add more flour and ditto for adding more liquid if it seems too dry. :)