BBA #9: Cinnamon Raisin Walnut Bread
Two weeks of cinnamon-laden breads? You might think that it would be overkill. I’ve grumbled about all these enriched breads before, but I take it all back. This cinnamon raisin walnut bread reminded me so much of the cinnamon raisin bread my grandma made when I was a little girl. There are a few differences, of course. Grandma’s uses a fresh yeast starter, excludes the nuts, and often has icing. Mine uses instant yeast, walnuts, and a cinnamon sugar garnish. They both have got raisins and a cinnamon swirl. Seriously, who can complain about a cinnamon swirl? This is currently my third favorite bread, behind bagels and cinnamon rolls. It’s awesome. It was also very easy, and it was made in a single day.
So, you start off by mixing up the dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl: flour, sugar, salt, yeast, cinnamon. You then add the wet ingredients: a room temperature egg, water, and (in my case, melted butter and whole milk. I used what was in my fridge and subbed for the shortening and the buttermilk. I stirred until this formed a ball that pulled away from the bowl. Then I flipped it on to the counter and kneaded it for about 20 minutes. I checked to see if it formed a windowpane:
Yep. So, I then proceeded to knead in the walnuts and raisins. You’ve got to get 2 1/2 cups of stuff in this dough, and that’s a bit of a challenge. I knead it in in stages. I spread the dough out and sprinkle a handful of the walnut/raisins on the dough:
I then knead the dough until they don’t fall out, then add another handful and knead again. I repeat this process until all the nuts and raisins are worked into the dough. Then I form the dough into a boule so it can be fermented in a bowl:
The bread rises until it doubles in size. Reinhart suggests two hours, but my warm kitchen brought the dough up in a little more than an hour. I split the dough into 2 equal pieces that I then rolled out 8″ x5″ x 1/3″. I covered this with a cinnamon sugar blend. I probably used 3 or 4 tablespoons per loaf. I wish I had used more, so now I will be even more liberal next time. I rolled the dough into a tight loaf, starting with the short side of the dough and pinching it closed after every turn. I placed the two loaves in oiled 8 1/2″ x 4 1/2″ pans and let them proof until they crested the pans. This took about 70 minutes. I baked the loaves for 20 minutes, rotated the pans and baked for about 30 more minutes. When the loaves registered 190º I removed them from the oven. I turned them out of their pans, brushed them with melted butter, rolled them in cinnamon sugar that I spread on a plate, then put them on a rack to cool.
I let them cool for two hours, then wrapped one loaf up and put it in the freezer. The other I wrapped in plastic. The next morning for breakfast I cut it and saw this:
I was pretty pleased. The swirl held together without space, because I pinched the loaf together after each turn. The swirl was not as pronounced or swirly as I would have liked. Next time I will used more cinnamon sugar and roll the loaf even tighter to get more turns. Regardless of my quest for perfection, the bread was delicious. It stayed moist for a few days, letting us eat it for breakfast or snacks. The cinnamon sugar garnish was crunchy and delicious. The raisins were soft and sweet. It was a wonderful bread, one that I am sure I will make many more times. It is possible I will forego the nuts sometimes, and maybe I will make it a bit more like my grandma’s. But, it’s a great recipe.
This is some more yeasty goodness I’m sending over to Yeastspotting.