One of the things I have liked best about taking my cooking online, so to speak (the Cooking Light Bulletin Board, this blog, reading other blogs, participating in the various events like Bread Baking Day and the Daring Bakers) is that I have really started stretching myself as a baker. Now I realize that for some experienced bread bakers this recipe won’t seem very challenging. But it was a big challenge for me because I have a serious aversion to rolling dough out.
I realize I need to get over this aversion. It gets in the way of a lot of baking—you should see the stockpile I have of roll out cookies to try. I have several problems with rolling out: I never have space on my counters; my counter seems to absorb and reflect heat, causing the dough to stick horribly; and oh yeah I am just plain bad at it. I have never mastered the trick of rolling dough out really thin—my attempts are always much thicker than called for.
Anyway, while John was out of town, I decided I was going to make bread. Further, I was going to choose a bread from Rose Levy Beranbaum’s The Bread Bible—a longtime used bookstore goal of mine that I had finally recently acquired. For some reason I kept coming back to the Cinnamon Raisin Loaf. It was a little out of character for me—I don’t usually like raisins in my bread, and in the past I have never cared for cinnamon swirled bread, since I always feel like some bites (the ones with cinnamon) are so far superior to other bites as to almost render the non-cinnamon parts inedible. But the more I thought about it, the more I decided I was going to make this bread.
Most dishes or baked goods can be judged on multiple levels, not just how it tastes. For flavor this bread hit a home run—I don’t know if Rose’s recipe is superior or if it is just that it is homemade, but I LOVE this bread. I plan to make it again already. From the outside, it is a pretty loaf, so it passed that part of the appearance test. However, I think I failed the part where the swirls don’t gap.
This should not be attributed to the recipe, at least not at this point, but rather to me. I was on the phone and distracted when I did the filling, and I actually did not roll the bread out, but rather gently stretched and patted into a rectangle. I don’t know if that was my mistake or if I did not roll the bread up tightly enough. I think I did not press out enough of the air bubbles in the dough at this stage maybe. The last possibility, mentioned by Rose in the recipe, is that I did not proof the bread long enough. I do not think this was the problem—it proofed at 70-75 F for 2 hours, and it was 1 ½ inches over the rim. When I make the bread next time I will try rolling more tightly and pressing the air bubbles out better. If that still fails, I suppose I will have to try rolling.
See, I finked out of rolling the dough—what did I tell you? A serious aversion….
Raisin Cinnamon Loaf
Adapted from The Bread Bible by Rose Levy Beranbaum
2 ¼ cups plus 2 ½ T (341 g, 12 oz) unbleached AP flour (I used King Arthur)
Scant 1 ¾ liquid cups (405 g, 14.3 oz) room temp water
2 T plus 1 t (45 g, 1.5 oz) honey
¾ t (2.4 g) instant yeast
2 cups plus 3 T (311 g, 11 oz) unbleached AP flour
¼ cup (40 g, 1.5 oz) nonfat dry milk
¾ t instant yeast (2.4 g)
9 T (128 g, 4.5 oz) softened unsalted butter
2 ¼ t (15 g) salt
1 cup (144 g, 5oz) raisins (I used flame seedless jumbo raisins)
Cinnamon Sugar Spiral Filling
¼ cup plus 2 T (75 g, 2.6 oz) sugar
4 t (9 g, .3 oz) cinnamon
1 large egg, lightly beaten
Melted or softened butter for brushing onto finished loaves
The day before in a large bowl, combine the sponge ingredients and whisk until smooth, about 2 minutes by hand.
In a medium bowl, combine the flour mixture ingredients and whisk together. Then sprinkle them on top of the sponge. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and leave at room temp for 60-90 minutes, until the sponge begins to bubble up through the flour mixture. Then place the bowl in the refrigerator and leave for up to 24 hours—the longer the better, for flavor development. I left mine about 12 hours.
The next day, transfer contents of the bowl to your mixer bowl. Use a spatula to get everything. Add the room temp butter and, using a dough hook, knead for 1 minute or until the dough is moistened enough to take on a rough mass. Cover with plastic wrap and leave for 20 minutes.
Sprinkle the salt onto the dough and start kneading again, for 7-10 minutes. This is a sticky dough—if it is not sticky and shiny, add a little water. If it is absurdly sticky and will not form a ball, add a little flour. Stop the mixer every so often to scrape down the sides of the bowl and dough hook—and to check that your mixer is not overheating. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and allow to rest for 10 minutes. Then add the raisins and knead for an additional 2 minutes to incorporate the raisins—do not worry if they do not incorporate perfectly evenly as later folding and rolling out of the dough will help insure that.
Using a spatula, scrape the dough into a large, lightly oiled bowl for rising—at least 4 quarts. Cover with plastic wrap and leave to rise until doubled, 90-120 minutes in a warm room (it will take longer in a cooler room—mine took about 3 hours but the kitchen was cold at that point).
Using a spatula, scrape the dough onto a floured work surface and press down on it gently to form a rectangle. Try to maintain as many air bubbles as possible. Give the dough one business letter turn and place it back into the container. Refrigerate for one hour.
Before taking the dough back out, mix the cinnamon and sugar and lightly whisk the egg. Pull out 2 8 X 4 loaf pans, as well as either a baking sheet or a baking stone; lightly oil the loaf pans.
Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Cut it in half (I quickly weighed mine to make sure I had gotten them pretty even) and place one half back into the fridge while you work with the first half.
Roll out (or stretch and press if you are like me, but I am not sure I recommend it!) the dough to 7 ½ inches wide by 14 inches long and ¼ inch thick. Using your fingertips, gently press out all of the air bubbles (I think I missed that instruction). Brush the dough with about 1 tablespoon of the beaten egg, leaving a ¾ inch margin all around. Sprinkle half of the cinnamon sugar evenly over the egg, also leaving a ¾ inch margin. (Rose gives very specific instructions here that I pretty much missed since I was talking on the phone—Bad Laura!—and my bread still turned out pretty nicely:) “Starting from the short end closest to you, roll the dough up tightly, as you would a jelly roll; brush the top of the dough with egg and squeeze the dough gently all along the length of the roll… so that it will adhere well to the filling.” Ooops—probably more reasons why my spiral gapped. But boy is it tasty. Tuck in the ends of the dough, making sure the length of the roll stays close to 7 ½ inches long. Place the loaf, seam side down, into 2 oiled 8 X 4 loaf pans. The dough will be about ½ inch from the top of the pan. Cover the pans loosely with plastic wrap and leave to rise again, until doubled, 1-2 hours or until the center is 1 ½ inches above the rim.
Preheat the oven to 350 F 45 minutes before baking. Have an oven shelf at the lowest level and place the baking sheet or baking stone on this level (I used a baking stone which always sits at the lowest level of my oven).
When the bread has risen, quickly but gently place the loaf pans onto the baking stone/sheet. Bake for 50 minutes (rotating halfway through) or until the bread is medium golden brown and the internal temperature is 211 (mine never reached 211—maybe my thermometer is broken?—but when it plateaued for 5 minutes at 208 F I decided it was done).
Remove the pans from the oven and turn them onto cooling racks. Brush the tops with butter. Rose instructs you to wait 1 hour, until barely warm, before slicing. I decided 45 minutes was plenty virtuous.
Kitchen Queen Victoria says
Laura, two recipes from one visit! 🙂 The Vietnamese salad sounds excellent (I’m printing it right now) and that cinnamon bread… well, DH would love me forever (if he doesn’t already) since he adores this stuff and I’ve never found “the perfect recipe”. The one which you posted may be it. 😉
By the way, I don’t usually go as high as 211F for the internal temp of bread, I pull it our between 195F-200F, when the bottom crust is dark and it has a hollow “thump” when you tap on the bottom with your knuckles (of course, removing it from the pan first!)
Vicci: That is what I normally do as well. However in my experience Rose Levy Beranbaum is usually extremely specific with reason so I was following her recipe. Maybe the filling needs to cook more? Or maybe she just disagrees with you and me (and Peter Reinhart, for that matter). She does call for her basic white loaf to cook to 210.
My family is BIG TIME into cinnamon swirl bread. I totally need this baking bible of hers!!
Looks like you did a smashing job on the bread 🙂
I couldn’t have even waited the 45 minutes. That’s a beautiful loaf!
Sharon & RecipeGirl: Thanks. 🙂 Waiting the 45 mins was difficult–I think this is one of those breads that is impressive enough to most people that even if you don’t get it rolled up tightly enough, no one will notice or care. 🙂