Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Cinnamon Raisin Swirl Bread

Happy New Year! It was a crazy end to 2013 and it's an even crazier start to 2014. I spent a majority of my winter break in New Jersey with my family and then spent a weekend in Maryland for a little reunion with some of my college housemates! My hands were itching to get back into my little apartment kitchen though because I got a bread machine for Christmas! Finally I can pronounce all the ingredients in my bread and count on my fingers the number of ingredients. It's exciting stuff.

I eat sandwiches every day for lunch so I used to buy a lot of bread but now I'm on Week 2 of homemade bread and it's been amazing. I've made only Honey Whole Wheat Bread so far but I'm certainly going to venture out soon and try to make something with oatmeal and such. I can't imagine how good regular ol' white bread would be either. Mmm!

I sent pictures of my homemade bread to my mom and she wished she could taste it. Then I thought, why not send some to my mom? If my grandma in Korea can send my mom homemade red pepper paste to the US, then I could certainly send my mom something when I'm only a few states away. My mom's birthday is coming up soon so I made her something I knew she'd love: Cinnamon Raisin Swirl Bread. It wasn't made in the machine but still homemade so I don't think she's mind. I'll just make her bread machine bread another time.

Cinnamon Raisin Swirl Bread

If you have a stand mixer, this bread takes no effort or your time. Let the machine do its work, let the dough rest, roll it out, then roll with sweet cinnamon goodness inside. It's a wonder why I don't make this bread more often instead of buying it. A lot of times, store-bought breads are too sweet for my family's tastes so I think this bread is perfect. Just a touch of sweetness from the cinnamon sugar swirls and raisin bites.  Make someone's day with this delicious bread. It's a guarantee that they'll enjoy it. Who can reisst unrolling the bread and eating it one twist at a time?

Cinnamon Raisin Swirl Bread

I found it hard to get back to work after a nice relaxing break. But maybe Mother Nature was listening and wanted to ease us into work because in just one week we had two delayed days and a day off because it was too cold. That's a first for me. It's a normal week now though so I'll have to get used to the routine again. Hope you all are not having too much difficulty adjusting back to work!

Cinnamon-Raisin Swirl Bread [Makes 2 loaves]
1 cup (6 oz) raisins
1 cup (8 oz) warm water
1 tablespoon active dry yeast
1 cup (8 oz) milk, whole, 2%, or skim
1/4 cup (2 oz) unsalted butter, melted
2 tsp salt
5 1/2 - 6 cups (1 lb 11.5 oz - 1 lb 14 oz) all-purpose flour

1/2 cup granulated white sugar
1 1/2 tbsp cinnamon
1 large egg beaten with 2 tsp warm water

Put the raisins in a small bowl and cover them with hot water. Let the raisins plump for at least 10 minutes. Drain and set aside.

Pour a cup of water into the bowl of a standing mixer or large mixing bowl. Sprinkle the yeast over top. (You can use the water from soaking the raisins for some extra-awesome flavor in your loaves, but just make sure the water has cooled to room temperature.) Give it a few minutes, then stir to fully dissolve the yeast into the water.

Stir the milk, melted butter, and salt into the water. Add 5 1/2 cups of the flour and stir to form a shaggy dough. Knead in your mixer on low speed with a dough hook or knead by hand for 8-10 minutes to form a smooth, slightly tacky dough. Check the dough halfway through; if it's very sticky (think: bubble gum), add a little more flour. The dough is ready when it forms a ball without sagging and quickly springs back when poked.

Toss the raisins with a few tablespoons of flour to absorb any residual moisture from when they were plumped. With the mixer on gradually add them to the bowl and continue kneading until they are evenly distributed.

If kneading by hand, turn the dough out onto your work surface and pat it into an oval. Sprinkled about half the raisins over the top and fold the dough like a letter. Pat it into an oval again, sprinkle the remaining raisins, and fold it again. Knead the dough by hand for a few minutes to distribute the raisins through the dough. (Alternatively, you can reserve the raisins and sprinkle them over the dough along with the cinnamon-sugar.)

Return the dough to the bowl and cover. Let the dough rise in a warm place until doubled in bulk, about an hour. Meanwhile, combine the sugar and cinnamon in a small bowl and beat together the egg and water in a second bowl.

Divide the dough into two pieces. Working with one piece at a time, roll the dough out on the counter. It should be slightly less wide than your baking pan and as long as you can make it. The thinner the dough, the more layers of crazy-good cinnamon swirl you'll end up with. If the dough starts to shrink back on you, let it rest for a few minutes and then try again.
Brush the entire surface of the dough with egg wash, leaving about two inches clear at the top. Sprinkle generously with cinnamon and sugar. Starting at the end closest to you, roll up the dough. When you get to the top, pinch the seam closed. Transfer the loaf to your loaf pan seam-side down. Repeat with the other half of the dough.

Let the loaves rise until mounded over the top of the pan and pillowy, 30-40 minutes. Halfway through rising, preheat the oven to 375° F.

Brush the top with some of the remaining egg wash. If desired, sprinkle some of your remaining cinnamon-sugar over the tops of the loaves as well. Bake for 40-45 minutes until golden brown.

Remove the loaves from the pans and allow them to cool completely before slicing. Baked loaves can also be frozen for up to three months.

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