Cinnamon Raisin Bread
(Preparing and cooking time: About 1 hour and 30 minutes excluding rising time)
I love having good toast for breakfast.† After many trials of several recipes, this version is modified to my liking. †I didnít care for the texture made with milk or more eggs for this bread.† In general I donít use too much sweetener for bread.† If you have sweet tooth, you can increase the amount of sugar to add to the flour.† I use white raisins because they seem to be a bit tangier than darker raisins.† I have used dark raisins in the past when they were the only choice from my pantry.† And they still made good bread.
Even though packaged dry yeast is convenient to store and has a longer shelf-life in the refrigerator, I use fresh yeast purchased from a local bakery, whose flavor is far better than dry yeast.†
As Japanese I am used to work in metric.† Also my Japanese scale is in metric.† I added the conversion of American measures, but as you see, they are cumbersome numbers.† But in baking bread, exact measurements are not so critical like baking cakes.† The amount of water to add to the dough varies a lot according to the condition of water contain of the flour.† And if the dough is too runny or sticky donít hesitate to add more flour as you knead.
You have to knead the dough at least 15 minutes vigorously to develop the gluten in the flour.† This is not an easy task, but I think kneading dough is very therapeutic.† And if you learn the trick, it wonít be so hard.† It is important to have a right height counter top to knead for a long time without straining yourself.
For the yeast:
2 tablespoons of fresh yeast or 3 teaspoons of dry yeast
100 cc (7/8 cup) of lukewarm water for yeast
1/2 teaspoon of sugar
For the dough:
750 grams (1.65 pounds) of Unbleached Bread Flour
1 tablespoon of salt
60 grams (2 ounces) of white sugar
75 grams (2.7 ounces or 2/3 stick) of unsalted butter
300-325 cc (1-1/4 to 1-1/3 cups) of lukewarm water
For the raisin filling:
300 grams (11 ounces) of white raisins
2 tablespoons of unsalted butter melted
3 tablespoons of cinnamon powder
2 tablespoons of white sugar
Dissolve yeast with lukewarm water with the sugar.† Keep it in a warm place for about fifteen minutes until it gets foamy.
Measure the flour into a large bowl, which is big enough to mix everything.† Add salt and sugar into the flour, and stir.† Add yeast water and stir.† Add the rest of the water, an egg and butter, and stir well.† I use a spatula at this stage and take the dough out on the counter top to knead with hands.† Knead at least 15 minutes vigorously until the dough becomes silky and smooth.† Form a smooth ball and place in a buttered large bowl. †The bowl should be large enough so that the dough can rise.† Cover it with a large pan lid or a plate.† Do not use a plastic wrap.† The dough will stick to it.† †Let it set in a warm place.† If itís not drafty you can leave this in any room temperature.† Rise until it doubles the size, about one hour or more depends on the temperature.† ††If the dough doesnít spring back when you poke a finger into it, it is ready for next process.
To avoid burnt raisins, I fold in raisins along with cinnamon, sugar and butter as below:
Divide the dough into three pieces. †Bench them for 15 minutes covered.† Flatten them into rectangular shapes with a rolling pin.† The dough will spring back firmly, so you should do it over and over until the dough relaxes to the shape.† Make each piece a bit larger than letter size.† Spread the melted butter (fingers do the fine job) all over them evenly, then raisins, cinnamon and sugar evenly.† †Then roll from a shorter edge to form a rolled log.† Stretch those rolls as long as you can make without breaking the dough.† Still broken dough can be pinched to close so that the raisins wonít come out.† Twist them and place them in a buttered loaf pans. Cover them and rise until they double the size. Warm the oven at least 15 minutes before baking.† Bake them at 375ļF oven for 30 minutes or until the tops become golden.
Makes 3 loaves