Is there anything better than the smell of fresh bread baking in your kitchen? Yes, fresh bread with cinnamon! I can’t stress enough how amazing our kitchen smelled on this cold, snowy weekend with this cinnamon raisin bread baking in the oven. I really need to bake more with cinnamon. It is such a warm, sweet smell – I absolutely love it!
This cinnamon raisin bread brings back memories of my childhood and the loaf of Sunmaid raisin bread that was a breakfast favorite in my household. It is a nice soft loaf studded with plump raisins and a hint of sweet cinnamon in every bite. A piece of this bread toasted with butter and cinnamon sugar is really helping me get through this Monday morning!
I talked about using a starter in my post on Country Bread. I liked the results so much that I decided to give it another try! This recipe is from Amy’s Bread and it is made with a “biga” starter. It did take a little bit of planning, but it wasn’t hard! I made the biga on Friday night right before bed, and then when I woke up Saturday morning my biga was ready to use! Not bad.
Mix together the biga with the other ingredients. You can knead it by hand or in a stand mixer. I used a stand mixer because it just seemed easier and less messy to me!
After rising, it is time for the good part – adding the cinnamon sugar and raisins.
Roll up the dough, keeping it tight the whole way. I need some more practice doing this, but I think it turned out pretty well for my second try with a rolled up bread.
Amy’s cautions to let the bread cool completely before slicing or it will fall apart. Usually I ignore this direction, but I decided to listen this time because I didn’t want my bread to fall apart! It was worth the wait because my bread stayed together beautifully! Look at those raisins and that swirl.
Recipe slightly adapted from Amy’s Bread
Makes 400 grams (1 ¾ cups)
200 grams (¾ cup plus 2 Tbsp) Very warm water, 105 to 115°F
1/8 tsp Active dry yeast
227 grams (1 ½ cups plus 2 Tbsp) Unbleached all-purpose flour
In a medium bowl, mix the warm water and yeast together and stir to dissolve the yeast. Add the flour and stir for 1 to 2 minutes, until a smooth, somewhat elastic batter has formed. The batter will be fairly thick; it gets softer after it has risen. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap. Let it rise at room temperature for 6 to 8 hours. Use the starter while it is still bubbling up, but before it starts to deflate. (I let the starter sit 10 hours and it was fine.)
Cinnamon Raisin Bread
Makes two 9×5 inch loaves
57 grams (¼ cup) Very warm water, 105 to 115°F
1 ¼ tsp Active dry yeast
368 grams (1 ½ cups plus 2 Tbsp) Cool water, 75 to 78°F
574 grams (4 ½ cups) Unbleached all-purpose flour
12 grams (1 Tbsp plus 1 tsp) Kosher salt
283 grams (2 cups) Dark raisins (the original recipe calls for 3 cups, I only used 2 and thought it was plenty)
65 grams (¼ cup plus 1 Tbsp) sugar
2 Tbsp Ground cinnamon (one for the dough, one for the filling)
Combine the very warm water and yeast in the bowl of a stand mixer and stir with a fork to dissolve the yeast. Let stand for 3 minutes.
Add the biga and cool water to the yeast mixture and mix with your fingers for 2 minutes, breaking up the starter. The mixture should look milky, and slightly foamy and there will still be chunks of dough.
Add the flour, salt and 1 Tbsp of cinnamon and mix with your fingers or a spatula until the dough forms a shaggy mass. Knead with the dough hook at medium-low speed for about 4 minutes, until it is smooth and supple. (You can also do this by hand on a lightly floured work surface.) Cover the bowl with plastic wrap sprayed with nonstick spray, and let the dough rest for 20 minutes.
Knead the dough again for about 5 minutes. It will become silky and elastic with kneading, and it will be a soft and loose dough. Place the dough into a lightly oiled bowl. Cover the dough with the oiled plastic wrap and allow it to rise at warm room temperature (75 – 77°F) for an hour.
After an hour, gently deflate the dough in the middle of the bowl, then fold the left side over the middle and the right side over the middle. Fold the dough in half, gently pat it down, and then turn it over so the seam is underneath. Let it rise again for 1 to 1 ½ hours. When the dough is ready, an indentation made by poking your finger in the dough should not spring back.
While the dough is rising, place the raisins in a bowl and add warm water to come just below the top of the raisins. Combine the sugar and cinnamon in a small bowl and set aside.
Place the risen dough on a lightly floured surface. Gently pat it into a rectangle about 14×12 inches with the long sides at the top and bottom edges. Cut the dough into two equal rectangles by cutting the dough in half lengthwise. Sprinkle each piece of dough with cinnamon sugar to taste (the more the better for me!) Drain the raisins well, spread them evenly over the entire surface of the dough, and press them in. Starting at the short side of one loaf, roll the dough tightly into a log, keeping the skin of the dough slightly taut and tucking in any raisins that fall out. Keep the roll tight, but don’t tear the dough. Seal the seam of the log and place each loaf seam side down in a well-oiled 9x5inch baking pan. Gently press down on the loaves to spread them to fill the corners of the pan, and cover with oiled plastic wrap. Let the bread rise for 1 to 1 ½ hours, until it has doubled in size and risen about 1 inch above the sides of the pan.
30 minutes before baking pre-heat the oven to 450°F and prepare the oven by placing a cast-iron skillet and a smaller pan (mini loaf pan, etc.) on the floor of the oven. Place an oven rack two rungs above the cast iron pan. Fill a teakettle with water to be boiled later, and have a metal 1-cup measure available.
5-10 minutes before the loaf is ready to bake, put the water on to boil and carefully place 2 or 3 ice cubes in the small loaf pan. This helps to create moisture in the oven prior to baking. When the loaves are ready, fill the metal cup with boiling water, open the oven, place the loaf pans on the oven rack ,(note: Amy said to quickly mist the loaves 6-8 times with a plastic spray bottle. I don’t have one so I skipped this step and it turned out fine) quickly but carefully pour the boiling water into the skillet and immediately close the oven door. Let me stress carefully with this step – the water is going to splatter everywhere when it hits the hot pan, and will make a really loud noise! Bake for 15 minutes, then reduce the oven temperature to 375°F and bake for 18 – 25 minutes longer, until the crust is brown and the loaves sound hollow when tapped on the bottom. The internal temperature will be about 200°F. If the crust is coloring too quickly during the baking process, cover the tops of the loaves loosely with foil (I had to do this). Let the bread cool in the pans for 5 minutes, then remove the bread from the pans and place the loaves on a rack to cool. Let cool completely before slicing, or the bread will fall apart.