I received a copy of “Martha Stewart’s Baking Handbook” for Christmas this year. I have wanted this cookbook for a long time, and it’s such a great addition to my cookbook collection. I adore cookbooks and sometimes even sit down and read them as if they were actual novels (can anyone relate?) This book is filled with so many delicious-looking recipes that I cannot wait to try! I know I’m going to have so much fun baking my way through this book.
I decided to try this Cinnamon-Raisin Bread first. I had all the ingredients on hand (thanks to those little packets of raisins I keep in the pantry for snacks!), and knew it would make a great Saturday morning breakfast, so I made it last night. Like most yeast breads, it does take some time to make (about 3 ½ to 4 hours from start to finish). The bread has to rise 3 different times and then requires 45 minutes to bake. I like to use this inactive prep time to multitask and get other things accomplished. During the first rise, I went for a run on the treadmill (nothing beats the feeling of a good workout, and it also helps balance out the extra calories!) During the second rise I cleaned the kitchen and took a shower, and while the bread was rising for the third time, I had dinner. As tempting as it was to slice into it last night, I followed the directions and let it cool completely (it was still pretty warm when I went to sleep.)
I leapt out of bed this morning because I couldn’t wait to try this bread. The verdict? As I hoped, it was delicious! Each slice was cinnamony and sweet and had nice plump raisins throughout, as well as the characteristic cinnamon-sugar swirl. The crust was golden brown and slightly crispy. It was so much better than any store-bought cinnamon raisin bread I’ve ever had. I highly recommend this recipe if you like cinnamon-raisin bread!
For the dough:
- 1 envelope (1/4 ounce) active dry yeast
- 2 cups warm milk (about 110 degrees F)
- 2 pounds, 2 ounces (about 6 ½ cups) all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
- 1 stick (½ cup) unsalted butter, room temperature, cut into pieces, plus more for pans
- ½ cup sugar
- 2 large eggs, plus 1 large egg, lightly beaten
- 2 ½ teaspoons coarse salt
- 1 cup raisins
- 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
- Vegetable oil, for bowl and plastic wrap
For the filling:
- 1 ½ cups sugar
- 2 tablespoons ground cinnamon
- Make the dough: In the bowl of an electric mixer, sprinkle the yeast over the warm milk. Whisk to combine. Add the flour, butter, sugar, 2 eggs, and salt. Attach the bowl to mixer fitted with the dough hook. Mix on low speed until all the 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, about 3 minutes more.
- Turn dough onto a lightly floured work surface. Pat out dough into a 9-inch round, about 1 ¼ inches thick. Sprinkle with raisins and cinnamon, and knead until they are just incorporated. Place the dough into a lightly oiled bowl, and 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, and pat into a round. Fold in the following manner: Fold the bottom third of the dough up, the top third down, and the right and left sides over, tapping the dough after each fold to release excess flour, and pressing down to seal. Return the dough to the bowl, seam side down, and let rise again until doubled in bulk, about 40 minutes.
- Make the filling: Combine the sugar and cinnamon with 2 tablespoons of water in a small bowl. Return the dough to a lightly floured work surface, and divide the dough in half. Roll out one half into a 12×10 inch rectangle. Brush it with beaten egg, and sprinkle with half of the cinnamon-sugar filling. Repeat with the remaining dough and filling.
- Generously butter two 9×5-inch loaf pans and set them aside. With a short end of the rectangle facing you, fold in both long sides of the dough, about 1 inch. Then roll the dough toward you, gently pressing as you go to form a tight log. Gently roll the log back and forth to seal the seam. Place the loaf in a prepared pan, seam side down. Repeat with the remaining rectangle. Cover the pans loosely with oiled plastic wrap, and let rest in a warm place until the dough rises just above the rim of the pan, about 30 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.
- Brush the tops of the loaves with beaten egg, and transfer the pans to a parchment-lined rimmed baking sheet. Bake, rotating pans halfway through, until the loaves are golden brown, about 45 minutes. (If the tops begin to brown too quickly, tent with foil. I had to tent mine halfway through baking, when I rotated the pans, to prevent it from getting too brown.) Turn out the bread onto a wire rack to cool completely before slicing. The bread can be kept, wrapped in plastic, at room temperature for up to 4 days.
Yield: Makes two 9×5 inch loaves (I halved the recipe and just made 1 loaf)
Source: Martha Stewart’s Baking Handbook