Whenever you bake for the holidays, I’ve learned that it’s a good idea to keep a huge stash of cinnamon in your kitchen, because almost everything that I’ve wanted to bake involved cinnamon. Well, now it’s after Christmas and I have all this cinnamon sitting around (raisins, too, actually), so I can’t let these good ingredients go to waste!
I was at the supermarket with my mom, getting her menu ready for the new year celebration, when out of the blue she mentioned that she craved some raisin bread. It’s still the holidays – I have time, and I don’t make bread often enough, so challenge accepted.
I did a quick Google search for a raisin bread recipe and found this one: World’s Best Cinnamon Raisin Bread (not Bread Machine). This works well for me because a) the only kind of raisin bread I would ever want to make is the world’s best and b) I don’t have a bread machine, so I could use a recipe that doesn’t require one.
I adjusted the recipe for two loaves ( I really like recipe sites that let you do that!) Anyway, three loaves is just too much bread. This is what I needed:
- 1 cup milk
- 2/3 cup warm water (must be between 110-115 degrees)
- 2 (1/4 ounce) packages active dry yeast
- 2 eggs
- 1/3 cup white sugar
- 2/3 teaspoon salt
- 1/3 cup unsalted butter, softened
- 2/3 cup raisins
- 5 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 1/3 tablespoons milk
- 2/3 cup white sugar
- 2 tablespoons ground cinnamon
- 1 1/3 tablespoons butter, melted (approx.)
The one thing I was super apprehensive about was the 2 packages of active dry yeast. I noticed that was the one thing that didn’t change when I adjusted the recipe from 3 to 2 loaves (flaw, perhaps, food dot com?), and I suspected that the flour/wet ingredients to yeast ratio was off. I ended up using a little bit less than two packets.
So the first thing I had to do was activate that yeast, which involved putting some into warm water. I boiled the water, used a meat thermometer my mom has in the kitchen to check the temperature (the recipe says that it has to be between 110-115 degrees to activate) and set it aside to hang out with the other ingredients in the meantime.
The cool thing about yeast in warm water is that it smells like liquid bread to me. Call me weird, but that’s just what I think. When the yeast was done doing its thing, I poured it into the eggs, sugar, butter, salt, and raisins that I mixed together while it was busy, you know, activating.
Then I gradually added the flour and kneaded it into a stiff dough. This part is so much fun.
The second funnest part is watching the dough rise. Well, the watching part is boring, but putting it away and coming back to find that the little ball of dough I kneaded had grown into something twice its size is neat. The instructions suggested putting the dough in the oven with the light on if I couldn’t find a warm spot (and I couldn’t), and I think that worked pretty well.
Next I rolled out the dough. My mom doesn’t have a rolling pin, and I don’t know how to do that cool flip-in-the-air-and-the-dough-flattens-like-a-pizza trick, so I settled for a long glass. After flattening out the dough, I used a brush to dab milk on the surface.
Then it was time to get crazy with the cinnamon and sugar.
And tighten it into a roll. I think this part is really important. No one wants bread with a bad swirl. In the end the roll shouldn’t be more than 3 inches in diameter.
I cut the roll in half, tucked in the ends, and put fit them snugly into two loaf pans. I’m glad my mom has two loaf pans or one half of the dough would have been pretty lonely for about an hour. I left the dough to rise a little more before I put it into the oven.
Keeping an eye on the oven, I let the bread bake for about 40 minutes. By that time the bread developed a nice golden brown crust, and I didn’t want to risk burning it by leaving it longer in the oven. You’ve got to let the bread cool a bit before you can take it out of the loaf pan because it is super hot. But it also smells great!
Check out that awesome swirl. I really think I could have put more cinnamon and sugar. Not going to lie…and I didn’t really mention this earlier, but..I didn’t end up using the whole cup of sugar and 3 tbsp of cinnamon because it seemed like way too much. That’s what I get for not having faith in the food dot com recipe. If I could go back in time, I’d pour the whole thing over the dough.
The bread is pretty tasty, but I found it to be sort of dry. I prefer to eat it after I put it in the toaster oven for a bit. This may sound strange, but the bread came out a little too white – I expected a richer, cinnamony color to it (maybe it should have included brown sugar instead of white?)
I wouldn’t call this the “world’s best cinnamon raisin bread”, but it’s not the worst.
Presentation: Nice – I mean, I nailed that cinnamon swirl!!
Edibility: Yes yes.
Tastiness: Tasty, but it could be sweeter.
Rematch?: I still have lots of cinnamon left over…so I yeah, I could do a rematch.