Raisin Cinnamon Swirl Bread

This moist and flavorful yeast bread with swirls of cinnamon and plump raisins is truly amazing. Yesterday morning was so perfect, fall break had started and I stayed up late and got to sleep in. When I woke up I had craving for cinnamon swirl bread and grits. Mmmm…I just had to have it! Luckily I already had everything that I needed in my kitchen to make it. When I was younger my parents always had a loaf of cinnamon swirl bread around. I loved to toast a slice of the bread and eat it with a big bowl of buttery grits. It was so perfect. :) There is nothing quite like the smell of bread baking in the oven and this bread made my house smell so delicious for hours. I had a hard time waiting for this bread to cool…it smelled and looked so yummy! So why do you have to wait for the bread to cool? Well I guess technically you don’t…but if you cut it while it is warm the pressure from the knife will compress the loaf and you will end up with a doughy slice. Not cool at all! So resist the temptation, I promise you the wait is worth it. If you do like your bread warm, just pop it in the microwave for 10 seconds and slather with butter…mmmm…heaven. Why is it that so many people are hesitant to make yeast breads? I don’t get it, the hardest part is waiting for the bread to rise! Give this bread a try, baking with yeast isn’t as scary as you may think. If you don’t inhale this entire loaf after it cools, you can use this bread to make french toast or bread pudding.

Raisin Cinnamon Swirl Bread

Ingredients:

For the Dough:
1/2 cup milk
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
1 envelope instant yeast (2 1/4 teaspoons)
1/2 cup warm water (110°F)
1/3 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
3 1/4-3 3/4 unbleached all purpose flour

For the Filling:
1/4 cup sugar
5 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 cup raisins
Milk for brushing

For the Glaze:
1 large egg
2 teaspoons milk

Directions:

Heat milk and butter in a small saucepan or in the microwave until the butter melts. Cool until warm, about 110°F.
Pour warm water into the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Sprinkle yeast over water. On low speed, mix in sugar and eggs. Add salt, cinnamon, milk mixture, and 2 cups of flour. Mix on medium speed until blended, about 1 minute. Switch to the dough hook and add 1 1/4 cups more flour and knead at medium-low speed for 10 minutes or until dough is smooth and comes away from the sides of the bowl. Add flour sparingly if the dough sticks to the side of the bowl.
Turn the dough onto a work surface. If the dough is sticky, knead up to a 1/2 cup more flour to form a smooth, elastic, soft dough. Transfer the dough to a lightly oiled bowl, cover and let rise until doubled in size, 2 to 2 1/2 hours.
After the rise, punch down the center of the dough once. Making sure not to fold the dough, turn it onto an unfloured work surface; let dough rest 10 minutes.

Grease the bottom and sides of a 9X5 inch loaf pan. In a small bowl, mix cinnamon and sugar together.
Press the dough into an evenly shaped 6 x 8 inch rectangle. With the short end of the dough facing you, roll the dough with a rolling pin into a 18 X 8 inch rectangle. Brush dough liberally with milk. Sprinkle cinnamon mixture and raisins evenly over dough, leaving a 1/2 inch border on the far side.

Starting at the side closest to you, roll up the dough, pinching the seam tightly to secure. Push the side of the roll in so the loaf is no bigger than 9 inches. With the seam facing up, push in the center of both ends. Firmly pinch the dough at either end together to seal the sides of the loaf.
Place the loaf, seam side down, into prepared pan, press lightly to flatten. bread loaf fan, seam side facing down. Loosely cover the pan with plastic wrap and let rise 1 1/2 hours or until dough is 1 inch above the top of the pan.
Preheat oven to 350°F. In a small bowl, whisk together the egg and milk. Gently brush the top of the loaf with the egg mixture.
Bake until the bread is a golden brown, about 35-45 minutes and an instant-read thermometer inserted into the middle of the loaf reads 185 to 190°F.
Remove from pan and let cool on its side on a wire rack until room temperature, about 45 minutes.

Recipe Note: You can refrigerate the dough overnight, then shape it, allow to rise, and bake it the next day. Allow to rise 2 1/2 hours before placing in the oven.

Source: adapted from Baking Illustrated