Braided Cinnamon Raisin Bread

Braided Cinnamon Raisin Bread

I have a love-hate relationship with bread.  Sometimes there is nothing more relaxing than making bread.  Then there are other times when nothing goes right and it ruins your entire day.

Yeasted breads can be quite temperamental and fickle:  If the water is too hot, it’ll kill the yeast.  If the room is too cold, the dough won’t rise.  If you overwork the dough, it becomes too tough and way too elastic.

Its no wonder many people are deathly afraid of working with yeast.  I was too, until I bought myself a kitchen thermometer.  It makes a world of difference.

Braided Cinnamon Raisin Bread

Braided Cinnamon Raisin Bread

I hate buying bread at the market.  I’m one of those people that dig back in the shelf looking for the loaf with the latest “best by” or “expiration date”.

This bread is quite similar to Sun Maid Raisin Bread, but better, because its fresh and made without preservatives.

The dough for bread is fairly easy to make.  However, I have to admit, this was the most time consuming cinnamon raisin bread I’ve ever encountered.  After the third hour of proofing and resting the dough, I was beginning to lose hope and wonder if I’ll ever finish.

This is a fantastic bread to make when you have plenty of time on your hands, like a lazy Sunday morning.  Or in my case, this lovely day I have off.  It’s well worth the time and effort.  There is nothing quite as rewarding as the satisfaction of making your own bread.

Braided Cinnamon Raisin Bread

You get two loaves of delicious aromatic cinnamon bread with this recipe. Be sure to slice your bread with a serrated knife to keep from crushing the loaf.  Bread should be cut at room temperature with a gentle sawing motion.

I love eating toasted braided cinnamon raisin bread with a slather of peanut butter, some slices of banana and a drizzle of honey.  

But just think about all the other things you can make with this bread– cinnamon raisin french toast, rum raisin bread pudding, or even an ice cream sandwich!

Braided Cinnamon Rasin Bread

Yield: makes 2 loafs

Ingredients

Dough:

  • 1 Tbsp + 1 tsp active dry yeast
  • 1 1/2 cups (12 oz) warm water, about 95-110 degrees F
  • 1/8 tsp granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup (8 Tbsp) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 3 3/4 cup (20 2/3 oz) bread flour
  • 3/4 cup (2 3/4 oz) nonfat dry milk powder
  • 1/3 cup (2 1/3 oz) granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg, room temp and lightly beaten
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 1/2 cups (7 1/2 oz) raisins

Filling:

  • 1 cup (4 oz) confectioners’ sugar
  • 3 rounded Tablespoons ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp salt

Egg Wash:

  • 1 large egg, room temp and lightly beaten
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 tsp water

Instructions

  1. In a small bowl, combine active dry yeast, warm water and 1/8 tsp of sugar. Mix together and let stand for 5-10 minutes until yeast has dissolved and mixture looks creamy.

  2. Cut butter into 32 pieces and toss with 1 tablespoon of flour.  Set aside.

  3. In the bowl of stand mixer fitted with a hook attachment, whisk together flour, milk powder, and sugar.  Add yeast solution and egg.  Min on medium low speed for about 2-4 minutes until dough forms into a cohesive mass.  Cover bowl with plastic wrap and let sit for 20 minutes.

  4. Place a cake pan on the bottom rack of the oven.  Boil 4 cups of water.

  5. Remove plastic wrap from bowl.  Add salt and continue to mix on medium low speed until dough is smooth and elastic.  It should also clear sides of the bowl.  With the mixer running, add the butter, a couple pieces at a time.  Continue to knead until butter is fully incorporated and dough is smooth and clears the sides of the bowl.  Add raisins and mix until distributed.  Transfer dough to a large, lightly greased bowl.  Fold dough over itself by lifting and folding edge of dough toward the center.  Turn bowl 90 degrees and fold again.  Continue to turn bowl and fold dough for a total of 8 times.  Cover bowl tightly with plastic wrap and place in the middle of the oven.

  6. Pour the boiling water into the cake pan in the oven.  Close door.  Keep door closed for 45 minutes to allow dough to rise.  You’ll be tempted to open the door to peek at the dough, but please keep it closed!  Turn on the oven light to have a look inside.  You want to keep as much steam inside the oven.

  7. Remove dough from oven and punch dough down.  Repeat the 8 folds from step 5.  Cover bowl and return to oven until dough has doubled in volume.  This should take 30-45 minutes.

  8. Meanwhile, make the filling.  In a medium bowl, whisk together confectioners’ sugar, cinnamon, vanilla, and salt.  Set aside.

  9. Grease two 9”x5” loft pans.  Transfer dough to a lightly floured surface and divide dough into two equal pieces.  Working with one piece of dough, roll out dough to 7”x18” rectangle with an even 1/4 inch thickness.  Using a spray bottle, spray the dough lightly with water.  Sprinkle half of the filling mixture over the dough, leaving a 1/4 inch border along the sides.  Spray filling lightly with water.

  10. With the short side facing you, roll dough away from you in a tight firm cylinder.  Turn loaf seam side up and pinch closed.  Also, pinch the ends closed.  Cover cylinder with plastic wrap and let rest for 10 minutes.  Repeat with second ball of dough.

  11. Use a bench scraper to cut the cylinder in half lengthwise.  Turn halves cut side up.  Gently pull and stretch each half into 14 inch length.  Line up the two pieces of dough and pinch the ends of the strips together.

  12. Take the strip on the left and lay over strip on the right.  Repeat, keeping up side up until the two strips of dough are tightly twisted.  Pinch ends together.  Transfer loaf, cut side up, to greased loaf pan. Repeat with second loaf.

  13. Cover loaves loosely with plastic wrap.  Return to oven and let rise for 45 minutes.  Remove loaves and water pan from oven.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Allow loaves to rise at room temperature until tops of loaves rise about an inch over the lip of the pan.  This should take about 30-50 minutes depending on the warmth of the room.

  14. Brush loaves with egg mixture.  Bake for 25 minutes until crust is nicely browned.  Reduce oven temperature to 325 degrees F.  Tent loaves with foil to prevent crust from burning.  Continue to bake for another 15-25 minutes until internal temperature of bread reaches 200 degrees F.

  15. Transfer pans to wire rack and let cool for 5 minutes.  Remove loaves from pans and let cool on rack.  Let loaves cool to room temperature before slicing.

Recipe Notes

adapted from Cook’s Illustrated March/April 2012

 
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Comments

Abby

Yum! I wish I had this waiting for me tomorrow morning.

Baker Street

Ah.. that’s my kinda bread! Looks gorgeous.

Jess Wakasugi {Life's Simple Measures}

What a gorgeous bread! Came across your post at Tastespotting and I’m in love with your blog, you have absolutely beautiful pictures. Glad to be your newest follower!

    the little epicurean

    Yay! I’m so glad you found me and uber thankful to have you as a follower :)

Sunday Morning Banana Pancakes

So so pretty – I absolutely love making my own bread and always feel quilty when I buy a loaf at the store knowing how easy it is to make my own- the braided effect is awesome; I have next week off and will absolutely be making this recipe!

Kristina

haha I have a complete love-hate relationship with bread making too :) I love love love when it turns out right, but its such a pain when I let it rise for like 3 hours and then it doesn’t turn out right! But yours looks absolutely perfect!! yum!!! I love cinnamon raisin bread!

    the little epicurean

    Thanks! Haha, glad to know someone else feels my frustration with failed bread making

Wheres k&b

Adding a touch of art to this already delicious dish makes it even more unique !

ratedkb.blogspot.com

Anonymous

Isn’t 8tbs of butter equals to 1/2 cup or 1/4 lb??

    the little epicurean

    Yes, 8 Tbsp of butter equal to 1/2 cup or 1/4 pound. I have edited my mistake. Thanks for bringing it to my attention!

Anonymous

I need some help!
The ingredients list, “1/4 cup (8 Tbsp) unsalted butter, room temperature.” How much butter is actually needed as the amounts do not add up to each other? Continuing with that train of thought, when does one add the butter?
There is a note to cut it up and cover it with flour, but I could not find any other reference to it after that.
I might be reading the post too fast and accidently skipped over that part; it has been known to happen.
Any help would be appreciated as this looks absolutely delicious and I can not wait to try it. Imagine it as french toast!
sentinger(at)gmail(dot)com

    the little epicurean

    Sorry for the confusion! The butter is supposed to be 1/2 cup (8 tablespoons) of unsalted butter, which should weight 1/4 pound. The butter is added in step 5.

    After you cut the dough lengthwise, the cut side should be facing up when you are braiding the dough.

    I hope that helps. I have also email you.

    Anonymous

    Thanks. I see where I had a fit of stand mixer envy. I tend to gloss over directions where I have to let my dough “mix” and insert “knead by hand.” Thanks for your prompt reply. Means my dough is close to being done as this is published.

Oldie49

I read the story in my son’s copy of the issue.
When I got home, I watched the bread-making video online three times.
Then I found the recipe posted here & decided to try it!
Well, in my version, the ingredients stayed the same, but it all went into my bread machine on the dough cycle: two hours work for the machine, adding raisins at the signal.
I followed the folding, resting, rolling, spreading filling, spraying,
re-rolling, cutting, braiding, rising for 45 minutes, as instructed. Brush with beaten egg. It went into a preheated 350oF oven for 22 minutes, cover with foil, reduce oven to 300oF and bake an additional 15 minutes. Cool in pans for 10 minutes and then at room temperature for 2 hours until cool before slicing. Two perfect loaves of cinnamon raisin bread! Great crumb, even distribution of cinnamon, no holes, lots of raisins! Best results I’ve ever had and I will probably try it again.

    the little epicurean

    I love Cook’s Illustrated and America’s Test Kitchen. I’ve learn so many tips and techniques from their magazine and tv show. I’m glad you tried out the recipe. Isn’t the bread so tasty and beautiful?!

    I’ve never made bread with a bread machine. I’ve been wanting to get one, but I have no more counter space!

    Oldie49

    I made this again as previously. Great results the second time also!
    What satisfaction to have a difficult recipe succeed again. Thanks for posting the steps and photos as a reminder of how to proceed. Lovely way to spend a Saturday!

Lioness

Hi, this looks delicious and something my husband would love! I want to make it, but I have failed several times trying to make yeast breads. :( I do not have a stand mixer either. Can you help me to make this without one and provide any tips to help make this try a success? Many thanks!

    Maryanne Cabrera

    My biggest advice when working with yeast breads- use a kitchen thermometer. More than often, the reason the yeast “fails” is because the water used in the recipe is either too cold or too hot. Too cold, the yeast takes forever to active. Too hot and the yeast dies. Make sure the warm water used in the recipe is between 95-110 degrees F. No worries if you don’t have a stand mixer. This bread can be done by hand. For tips on kneading doughs by hand, I suggest you check out AmericasTestKitchen.com or CooksIllustrated.com for some quick videos.

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