Cinnamon-Raisin Swirl Bread

Cinnamon raisin bread

We stopped at the store on Tuesday night to pick up a few things, and I grabbed a loaf of cinnamon raisin bread to have for breakfast all week. Joel, being the bread guy that he is, told me to put it back and grab something else for the next morning and he would make homemade cinnamon raisin bread for us for the remainder of the week instead. Homemade bread is infinitely better than packaged bread, so back on the shelf the bread went, and in its place I grabbed a chocolate croissant. Wednesday came, and of course, Joel had sailing, which meant that he was gone all day, since he goes right to the marina from work. Even though he is the bread guru in our house, since he was gone, I was left to choose the recipe and make the bread myself. After a quick search, the top suggestion was from The Kitchn, a site I enjoy regularly, so I went with it. I threw the dough together, using the rising time to play in the garden and prepare dinner. When the bread was baking, it made my house smell absolutely wonderful, which made it difficult not to tear right into a loaf, but it was worth the wait and it was great to have fresh bread ready to go this morning for toast. This dough made 2 loaves, which was perfect; one for this week and one for the freezer so we can enjoy it again when we return from vacation.

For the Bread:
1 cup Raisins
1 cup Warm Water (I used the reserved raisin water)
1 tablespoon Yeast
1 cup Milk (I used vanilla almond milk)
1/4 cup Butter, melted
2 teaspoons Salt
2 tablespoons Sugar
5 1/2-6 cups Flour 

For the Filling:
1/2 cup Sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons Cinnamon
1 Egg
2 teaspoons Warm Water 

Put the raisins in a small bowl and cover with hot water {I boiled water and poured it over the bowl to cover the raisins by about an inch}. Allow the raisins to plump up for at least 10 minutes. Drain, reserving 1 cup of the water, and set aside. When the reserved water has come to room temperature, pour it into the bowl of a stand mixer and sprinkle the yeast on top. After a few minutes, stir to fully dissolve the yeast in the water. Stir the milk, butter, salt, and sugar into the mixer. Add 5 1/2 cups of the flour and stir to form a shaggy dough. Knead the dough on low speed, using a dough hook (or by hand for 8-10 minutes) to form a smooth, slightly tacky dough. Check the dough halfway through; if it is very sticky, add more flour. The dough is ready when it forms a ball without sagging and quickly springs back when poked. Toss the raisins with a few tablespoons of flour to absorb any residual moisture from the plumping process. With the mixer on, gradually add them to the bowl and continue kneading until they are evenly distributed (or fold them into the dough by hand, then return dough to the bowl). Cover the bowl and let the dough rise in a warm place until it has doubled in size, about 1 hour. 

Meanwhile, make the filling by combining the cinnamon and sugar in a small bowl. In a separate bowl, beat together the egg with the warm water. Divide the dough into 2 pieces. Working one piece at a time, roll the dough out on the counter. It should be slightly less wide than your baking pan and as long as you can make it. The thinner the dough, the more layers of cinnamon swirl you will end up with. If the dough starts to shrink back when it is rolled, let it rest a few more minutes then try again. Brush the entire surface of the dough with the egg wash, leaving about 2 inches clear at the top of the dough. Sprinkle generously with the cinnamon sugar mixture. Starting at the end closest to you, roll the dough away from you. When you get to the top, pinch the seam closed. Transfer the loaf to a loaf pan seam-side down. Repeat with the other half of the dough. Let the loaves rise until mounded over the top of the pan and pillowy, 30-40 minutes. Halfway through rising, preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Brush the tops of the loaves with some of the remaining egg wash, and if desired, sprinkle with remaining cinnamon sugar. Bake for 40-45 minutes, until golden brown. Allow the loaves to cool completely before slicing. Baked loaves can be frozen for up to 3 months. 

SOURCE: The Kitchn