Cinnamon Raisin Bread

So the good thing about the economic slowdown, my now part-time job and an extra burst of free time is that I now have the luxury of making recipes that take, well, a little more time. I was searching my baking books for something I could make as a hostess gift for some friends who'd invited Jon and I over for dinner and was leaning toward something breakfast-y. Mostly because whenever we've gotten together in the past we'd ended up with atleast 2 desserts, and while I do enjoy desserts that can be a bit much. I was actually thinking of making muffins but for some reason couldn't find the right section in Martha Stewart's Baking Handbook. I ended up looking longingly at photos of home baked bread and had the wonderful idea that I could actually make bread and perhaps even had the ingredients.

I decided on cinnamon raisin bread, the kind with the swirl. And well, I didn't exactly have everything I needed. I dumped out the last of my bag of flour coming up 3 cups short. But decided whole wheat pastry flour could fill in and add a boost of extra nutrition (extra because cinnamon raisin bread is filled with wonderfully nutritious things like 2 cups of sugar, and a stick of butter). And in any case it's barely noticeable when used as less than half of the total flour in a recipe.

Risen Dough with sticky layers of cinnamon, Rolled slab ready for it's sugary filling, Sugary filling being Spread, and then Rolled, and then Baked, and Cooled

I've been eating it for breakfast thinly sliced, toasted to a golden brown, and spread with butter. Apparently our friends made their loaf into french toast which sounds absolutely delicious. But no matter how you like it, it's quite good and though time consuming, it's relatively easy. Jon was really happy with it too, declaring it better than Pepperidge Farms, but requesting more swirls next time.

Cinnamon-Raisin Bread
Adapted From Martha Stewart's Baking Handbook

Makes Two 9-by-5 Inch Loaves

1 envelope active dry yeast
2 cups warm skim milk
4 cups all purpose flour
2 1/2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
1 stick butter, at room temperature, cut into pieces
1/2 cup sugar
2 large eggs, plus 1 large egg, lightly beaten
2 1/2 tsp coarse salt
1 cup raisins
1 tbsp ground cinnamon
Vegetable oil for bowl and plastic wrap

1 1/2 cup sugar
2 tbsp ground cinnamon
2 tbsp water

In the bowl of an electric mixer sprinkle the yeast over warm milk, whisk to combine. Add the flour, butter, sugar, 2 eggs, and salt. Attach bowl to mixer fitted with the dough hook. Mix on low speed until all ingredients are well combined, about 3 minutes. Raise the speed to medium-low and continue to mix until the dough is uniformly smooth and pulls away from the sides of the bowl. (Note: If you don't have a dough hook, mix with a mixer until the dough starts to form a ball, knead by hand until smooth.)

Turn out dough onto a lightly floured work surface. Pat out dough into a 9-inch round, about 1 1/4 inch thick. Sprinkle with raisin s and cinnamon, and knead until they are just incorporated. Place the dough in a lightly oiled bowl, cover with oiled plastic wrap, let rise in a warm place until doubled in bulk, about 1 hour.

Return the dough to a lightly floured work surface, pat into a round. Fold the bottom third up, the top third down, and both sides in. Tapping the flour off the dough after each fold. Press down to seal and return to bowl. Let double in bulk, about 40 min.

Combine the sugar, cinnamon, and water in a bowl. Divide the dough in half and return one half to a lightly floured surface. Roll out to a 12 by 10 inch rectangle, brush with beaten egg, and sprinkle on half the sugar mixture spreading evenly. Repeat with the second half of dough and filling.

Generously butter two 9 by 5 loaf pans. With the short end of the rectangle facing you fold in about 1 inch of the sides to form a lip, then tightly roll the short end up to form a log. Place the log in a loaf pan, seam side down. Cover pans loosely with oiled plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place until down reaches just about the rim, about 30 min. Preheat the oven to 425 F.

Brush the tops of the loaves with beaten egg, and transfer to a lined baking sheet. Bake rotating half way through until loaves are golden brown, about 45 minutes. Turn out bread onto a wire rack to cool completely before slicing. Wrapped in plastic and kept in the refrigerator it should last about a week.

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