A few weeks ago, I needed to buy some more yeast. I decided to buy a jar of yeast, rather than the packets, which I usually buy. Seeing that the label said it was good in the fridge for 6 months after opening, I knew I was making a commitment to make more bread! So this past weekend I made my first cinnamon-raisin-swirl bread. The recipe I was used was top-notch – easy to follow, and delicious. I love the sweet brown sugar and spicy cinnamon. The recipe called for both golden raisins and dark ones; I had only golden so I also added pecans to the dough. WOW – so good! According to my husband, this makes great toast! The recipe made two loaves, so I gave one to friends and we froze half of the remaining one to enjoy later. What a treat!
Brown Sugar Raisin Bread
1 Tbs. active dry yeast
3 Tbs. granulated sugar
1 1/4 cups warm water (105° to 115°F)
1 cup warm milk (105° to 115°F)
3 Tbs. unsalted butter, melted
1 Tbs. salt
1 egg, lightly beaten
6 to 6 1/4 cups bread flour, plus more as needed
3/4 cup golden raisins
3/4 cup dark raisins
For the filling:
2/3 cup firmly packed light brown sugar mixed with 4 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
In a bowl, sprinkle the yeast and a pinch of the granulated sugar over 1⁄2 cup of the water and stir to dissolve. Let stand until foamy, about 10 minutes. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the flat beater, combine the remaining 3/4 cup water, the milk, butter, the remaining granulated sugar, salt, egg and 2 cups of the flour. Beat on medium speed until creamy, about 1 minute. Add the yeast mixture and 1⁄2 cup of the flour and beat for 1 minute. Add the raisins, then beat in the remaining flour, 1⁄2 cup at a time, until the dough pulls away from the sides of the bowl. Switch to the dough hook. Knead on medium-low speed, adding flour 1 Tbs. at a time if the dough sticks, until smooth and elastic, about 4 minutes. Transfer the dough to a greased deep bowl and turn to coat it. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rise at room temperature until doubled in bulk, 1 to 1 1⁄2 hours.
Lightly grease two 9-by-5-inch loaf pans. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured board. Divide the dough in half and roll or pat each half into an 8-by-12-inch rectangle. Lightly sprinkle each rectangle with half of the filling, leaving a 1-inch border on all sides. Beginning at a narrow end, tightly roll up each rectangle into a compact log. Pinch the ends and the long seam to seal in the filling. Place each log, seam side down, in a prepared pan. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rise at room temperature until the dough is about 1 inch above the rim of each pan, 1 to 1 1⁄2 hours.
Preheat an oven to 350°F. Bake until the loaves are golden brown and pull away from the sides of the pan, 35 to 40 minutes. Turn the loaves out onto wire racks and let cool completely. Makes two 9-by-5-inch loaves.
Adapted from Williams-Sonoma Collection Series, Bread, by Beth Hensperger (Simon & Schuster, 2002 ).