If you wish to make an amazingly buttery, rich cinnamon-raisin loaf, then this bread is for you. This recipe, also an adaptation from Rose Levy Beranbaum’s book “The Bread Bible” calls for a dough starter that most conveniently sits in the fridge overnight. The flour mixture contains a stick of butter that gives this bread a very flaky, almost pastry like texture – wonderful both fresh and toasted. Each loaf is rolled out into a rectangle and brushed with an egg wash before liberally dusted with cinnamon sugar. The raisins are mixed into the dough, and not layered along with the cinnamon sugar. This method prevents gaps which can easily happen in spiraled breads. Also to avoid gaps in the dough, make sure to give the bread a generous amount of time to rise, especially during the last rise after you roll the loaves together.
All in all, this is one of the best cinnamon raisin loaves we have tried. The texture is great, the flavor is perfectly balanced with just the right amount of raisins, cinnamon and sugar. Whether for breakfast, or just with coffee, this bread is sure to impress whoever gets a slice! The two loaves will disappear surprisingly quickly, but if you have any leftovers, this bread works very nice to freeze, pre-sliced.
Two 8-by-4-by-4 ½-inch-high loaves
Dough starter (sponge)
2 ¼ cup plus 2 ½ tablespoon all-purpose flour
1 ¾ cup water, room temperature
2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon honey
¾ teaspoon instant yeast
2 cups plus 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
¼ cup dry milk
¾ teaspoon instant yeast
8 tablespoons butter, softened
2 ¼ teaspoon salt
Cinnamon Sugar Spiral Filling
¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
4 teaspoons cinnamon
1 egg, beaten
1. Make the sponge by mixing flour, water, honey and instant yeast in a large bowl until smooth, about 2 minutes. Set it aside and cover it with plastic wrap.
2. Make the flour mixture by mixing the flour (reserve ¼ cup if mixing by hand), dry milk and instant yeast in a separate bowl. Gently place the flour mixture on top of the sponge, cover with plastic wrap and allow it to ferment 1 to 4 hours (you can place it in the fridge after one hour and leave it overnight if it’s more convenient, just make sure to take it out of the fridge on hour before mixing the next day).
3. Now, add the salt, cut up butter to the bowl and stir with a wooden spoon until the flour is moistened. Knead the dough together in the bowl until it comes together, then knead it on a floured surface for 5 minutes to develop the gluten structure. Cover it with plastic wrap and let rest for 20 minutes. Knead the dough for another 5 minutes until it’s very smooth. Add some additional flour if the dough is sticky. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and allow to relax for 10 minutes. Add the raisins and incorporate them into the dough with your hands.
You can also do this step using a machine. Then, add butter to the bowl, and using a dough hook, mix the mixture on low for about 1 minute, then cover the bowl with plastic wrap and allow the dough to rest for 20 minutes. Next, sprinkle on the salt and knead the dough on medium speed for 7 to 10 minutes. Cover with plastic wrap and allow to rest for 10 minutes. Add the raisins and mix on low speed or about 2 minutes to incorporate them.
4. Now, place the dough in a lightly greased 4-quart bowl (or dough rising container). Cover with plastic wrap and let rise until doubled, 1 ½ hours to 2 hours, ideally in 75 – 80 degrees. (If your kitchen is colder than that, you can put your oven on warm for a minute, then shut it off and leave the dough inside the oven for the rising period).
Once it’s doubled, scrape it out on a floured surface, give it a business letter turn (stretch the dough out and fold it on top of it a couple of times). Place it in the oiled bowl again, cover with plastic wrap and allow to rest a second time, about 45 minutes to 1 hour in the fridge.
5. In a small bowl, whisk together the sugar and the cinnamon. Brush the egg in a separate bowl.
6. Scrape the dough out on a floured surface and divide it in two equal pieces. Cover one piece of dough with plastic wrap and work with the other. Roll out on piece of dough to a rectangle 7 ½ inches wide by 14 inches long and about ¼ inch thick. Gently dimple the dough all over with your fingers to deflate air bubbles. Brush the dough with the beaten egg, leaving a 3/4 –inch margin on the edges. Sprinkle half of the cinnamon sugar evenly on the dough. Start rolling the dough together, squeezing it gently along the length of the roll. Close the ends up and pinch the seams together. Place the roll in an oiled 8 ½-by 4 ½-inch loaf pan. Cover with oiled plastic wrap and repeat for the second loaf. Allow to rise for 1 to 2 hours.
7. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees (it is recommended that you pre-heat the oven 45 min before baking). On the lowest level in the oven, place a baking stone or a sheet pan before preheating.
8. Set the loaf pans on the baking stone and shut the door immediately. Bake for about 50 minutes or until the bread is golden brown and an instant read thermometer in the center reads 211 degrees. Turn the loafs around halfway through baking for even baking.
9. Once the breads are done, remove them from the oven and unmold them. Set on a wire rack and let cool completely.