hearty cinnamon-raisin bread

This recipe comes with a funny story - and a lesson. I skimmed the steps instead of reading them thoroughly, like usual. By doing so, I missed a crucial rising step that required an additional hour and a half of waiting ... after the first hour and a half rise time. So when I started this at 9:00 p.m., I didn't know what I was in for. It's now 2:00 a.m. and I just wolfed down two slices out of sheer hunger and exhaustion (and because it's homemade bread fresh from the oven!). Admittedly, it's delicious. But next time ... I'll start it in the morning. :)

Here's how it began: I love the way this special bread is warm and sweet and spicy all at the same time, but the grocery store versions are just too refined for me. I recently saw a how-to article in one of my food magazines about how to make whole-wheat cinnamon-raisin bread. Ellie Krieger (one of my favs) lead the way, which gave me a little more confidence since I typically enjoy her healthy recipes. It actually uses half whole-wheat and half bread flour, but the fiber and nutrition is upped tremendously over the grocery store kind because of the swap. The recipe also gave me the opportunity to use my bread hook, a device I've had for five years and never once used (sadly – I'm usually a fan of quick breads, like this zucchini-pineapple quick bread.)

It's a little time consuming, so save it for a rainy weekday inside and then treat yourself to a toasty slice with some coffee. Or, better yet, try making French toast with it. You won't be disappointed!

Hearty Cinnamon-Raisin Bread
  • 2 cups bread flour, plus more for dusting
  • 2 cups whole-wheat flour
  • 1/4 cup nonfat dry milk (reviews said that warm milk could be substituted here, just omit the water)
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 tablespoons canola oil, plus more for brushing
  • 3 tablespoons honey
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons instant dry yeast
  • Cooking spray
  • 2/3 cup raisins
  • 1 tablespoon plus 3 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1/3 cup packed dark brown sugar
  1. Make the dough: Measure out 1 1/4 cups very warm water and check the temperature; it should be 120 degrees F to 130 degrees F. Combine both flours, the dry milk, egg, canola oil, honey, salt, 2 tsp. cinnamon, yeast and warm water in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook. Mix three minutes on the lowest setting, then increase to the next highest setting and mix five more minutes. The dough should be soft and sticky (and warm!).
  2. Let it rise: Transfer the dough to a large bowl coated with cooking spray. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and let rise at room temperature until the dough has nearly doubled in size, about one hour, 30 minutes.
  3. Soak the raisins: Dry raisins will rob moisture from the bread, so soak them first in boiling water until plump, about 30 minutes. Drain and pat dry.
  4. Fold the dough: Transfer the dough to a floured work surface. Picture it as a loose square. Lift up one side of the dough and fold about one-third of it across; press down on the dough with spread fingers to remove any air bubbles. Repeat with the remaining three sides of the dough.
  5. Add the filling: Mist two 9-by-5-inch loaf pans with cooking spray. Divide the dough in half; roll out each half into an 8-inch square. Brush each square with canola oil, then sprinkle with the remaining cinnamon (it's high in antioxidants!), brown sugar and raisins.
  6. Form the loaves: Roll up each square of dough into a tight cylinder; place seam-side down in the prepared pans. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and let rise at room temperature until the dough fills the pans and springs back when touched, about one hour, 30 minutes.
  7. Bake the bread: Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Brush the loaves with canola oil and bake until golden brown, 25 to 30 minutes. Remove from the pans and transfer to a rack to cool completely.
Next time I will roll mine a little thinner and tighter to help the cinnamon and raisin filling to more evenly distribute throughout each slice. Still delish, though.

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