I am only just now beginning to come down from that cinnamon cloud I have been living on for the past two weeks. I have gone through an entire jar of cinnamon in just 13 days. Usually a jar will last about 4 months in my house. I used about 2/3 of the jar making cinnamon and sticky buns, (okay I confess to making them four times!!) and the rest of the jar was used making this week’s Bread Bakers Apprentice Challenge, Cinnamon Raisin Walnut Bread.
The next statement I am about to make may shock and surprise you. This bread actually improves with age. That’s not a phrase normally associated with bread but with this loaf, it happens to be true. While it was delicious fresh and warm from the oven, the next morning, thickly sliced, lightly toasted and slathered with (salted!) butter, it was sublime.
This bread came together beautifully, although not for the first time I silently cursed Peter Reinhart (PR) for putting the measurements in imperial rather than metric. Trying to measure out .31 ounces of salt is impossible. Weighing 9 grams of salt (the metric equivalent of .31 ounces) is easy. This rant has been brought to you by the “Cookbooks Go Metric” committee (me). Anyways, forgive this aside, back to the Cinnamon Raisin Bread.
It begins by combining the dry ingredients (bread flour, sugar, salt, yeast, and cinnamon) in the bowl of the mixer.
Next the wet ingredients (egg, melted butter, milk, and water) are combined and added to the dry.
I mixed the dough on medium speed for about 8 minutes. I needed to add an additional 3 tablespoons of flour. The final dough was “soft and pliable, tacky but not sticky”, exactly as RP prescribed. I learned from fellow BBA challenger Phyl at “Of Cabbages and Kings“, that “the easiest way is to tell if your dough is tacky or sticky is to press your hand onto the dough and then lift it up. If the dough pulls up with your hand and then releases (so your hand comes away clean), the dough is tacky. If you end up with dough stuck to your hand, it’s sticky.”
The raisins and walnuts are kneaded in by hand at the end of the mixing period so they don’t get too crushed. I toasted my walnuts first to really bring out their nutty essence.
The next step is to let the dough ferment (the first rising) for at least 2 hours or until doubled in bulk. I have always had trouble with the instruction, “doubled in bulk”.. I used to let my dough rise in a bowl and could never judge when it had exactly doubled. I learned a tip from my fellow challengers on how to easily tell. They let their dough rise in a square plastic container and put a rubber band around the outside at the top of the dough. As the dough rises you can easily judge that moment when it has doubled. So simple but brilliant!
Here is the dough after 3 hours. Easy to tell it has doubled. Actually it more than doubled because I went to exercise, got distracted and forgot about it.
Next the dough is divided in half and each piece is rolled out to an 8 x 5 inch rectangle. For an extra burst of cinnamon flavour the whole surface is sprinkled with a cinnamon sugar mixture.
Then the dough is rolled up into a tight log and placed in a small (8 1/2 x 4 1/2 inch) loaf pan for the second rising (proofing).
Once the dough “crests above the lip of the pan”, about 2 1/2 hours later, they’re ready for the oven.
They go into a 350 degree oven for about 30-40 minutes until an instant read thermometer, inserted into the center of the bread, registers 190 degrees F. The bread will be golden brown all over.
I thought that the bottom of the loaf was quite beautiful so I shot that to show you as well!
To really boost the cinnamon flavour PR suggests brushing the loaf with melted butter and then sprinkling the top with cinnamon sugar. Is it any wonder I have used an entire jar of cinnamon this month?
After an agonizing 90 minute wait (I sent impatient angry husband on a bike ride as the aroma was driving him wild!!), we sliced into it and had a few slices with a glass of sauvignon blanc. Interesting flavour combo.
While this bread was delicious stilll warm from the oven, it really shone the next morning, toasted with butter and a latte!! I’ll definately be making this one again. Thanks Mr Reinhart for another keeper!