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BBA #9: Cinnamon Raisin Walnut Swirl Bread

July 16, 2009


When I was young, on occasion (for some reason I remember it when I was sick, but that might be a trick of my memory) my Mom used to make me cinnamon toast. So simple — just toasted bread (usually whole wheat), spread generously with butter and sprinkled, also generously, with cinnamon and sugar. It was a treat, and I savored every nibble of it. I even had a preferred strategy for eating the cinnamon toast: nibble all the crusts off first (those didn’t get covered as well with the cinnamon sugar mixture), then end with the buttery, soft, sugary middle.

I still make this for myself, from time to time, and the taste always reminds me of my Mom.

So I was happy to have Cinnamon Raisin Walnut Swirl Bread as the latest bread in the Bread Baker’s Apprentice Challenge: a simple loaf, full of raisins and walnuts, and sporting a thick cinnamon swirl throughout the middle. It was all the flavors of my favorite cinnamon toast (plus a few other goodies like the raisins and walnuts), wrapped up into a sliceable loaf! And actually, quite similar to the cinnamon buns I recently made for the BBA challenge, but I’m not complaining. One can never have enough cinnamon-raisin bread.

I started the bread by mixing together the flour, sugar, salt, yeast and cinnamon in large bowl…


…then adding an egg, melted butter (the recipe called for shortening but frankly, I never use that stuff and it’s not worth keeping it around for just using 2 tablespoons), buttermilk and water.


I stirred this mixture with a wooden spoon until it came together into a sticky ball.


Then, turned it out onto my good ol’ kneading surface (our kitchen table), dusted with flour, and set about kneading the dough. I found this dough to be kind of sticky when it started, so I did end up having to add at least another 1/2 cup flour throughout the course of kneading. During the last two minutes of kneading, I gradually added chopped walnuts and raisins, and kneaded those into the bread to distribute. (That step is a bit tricker said than done, especially with raisins. You can’t add 1 1/2 cup raisins all at once; they’ll fly all over the table as you knead — so baby steps is the way to go.)


Eventually, I worked all the raisins and walnuts into the dough, and had kneaded it enough so that it passed the windowpane test and was a tacky – not sticky – ball.


Into a large bowl it went to rise…


…and rise it did!


Now it was time to divide the dough in half and shape it into loaves.


Since I wanted to do a cinnamon sugar swirl in the bread, I spread each rectangle of dough with cinnamon sugar…


…then rolled the dough, starting with the long end closest to me, up into logs. This is also a bit tricky, since you have to get a tight seam as you’re rolling (so there are no spaces in the swirl – you’ll see what I mean later.) The cinnamon sugar coating doesn’t give the easiest surface to attach the dough to, but it seemed to go smoothly enough.


Look at how those puppies proofed! Yeah!


I then popped them into the oven to bake, until the crust was golden brown. The house smelled heavenly as the cinnamon and sugar and raisins and walnuts and yeast wafted throughout…


Now the moment of truth: would the swirl be tight? Well….not uniformly so, but I think I just have to roll the dough up more firmly next time when shaping.


It tasted amazingly good, though, and we had it slathered with butter and sighed contentedly as we devoured half the loaf, still warm.


You can find the Bread Baker’s Apprentice recipe for Cinnamon Raisin Walnut loaf here, page 147.

Previous BBA Bread: Cinnamon Buns

Up Next: Cornbread

14 Comments leave one →
  1. July 16, 2009 9:50 am

    I also loved this bread. Your photos are awesome. You do such a great job.
    Who can resist cinnamon sugar? YUM.
    Nice baking along with you,

  2. Sarah permalink
    July 16, 2009 11:01 am

    This brightened my day!

  3. July 16, 2009 2:37 pm

    This looks delicious! I was going to skip this week’s bread, but after seeing your post I might have to make it!

  4. July 16, 2009 7:30 pm

    What a beautiful loaf of bread–looks truly delish!

  5. July 16, 2009 8:33 pm

    Looks wonderful! Re the cornbread coming up next: my Alabama-born husband would say if you put any sugar in it it becomes cake. The “right” way to make it, for Southerners (and I’ve come to agree) is with buttermilk, baked in a well-seasoned, pre-heated cast iron skillet.

  6. July 16, 2009 8:48 pm

    Well thanks, Susie!

    Sarah – a slice of this brightens my day, too. 🙂

    Lynn – yes, it wasn’t particularly difficult and what a payoff! It was delicious.

    Kati – thanks!

    Jean – yes, I know about the whole sugar/no-sugar argument… 🙂 – however, being a solid “Northerner” myself, I fall solidly into the sweet cornbread camp. And it definitely is delicious baked in a cast iron skillet; that’s our favorite way to eat it. I’m looking forward to trying Reinhart’s version for the Challenge.

  7. Melanie Thurber permalink
    July 17, 2009 9:09 am

    This bread looks great! About the separation, Rose Levy suggests adding the raisins to the dough (not the cinnamon layer) and a longer rising time to minimize the oven poof that occurs.
    …but, does it really matter? My kids have never cared:)

  8. July 17, 2009 9:56 am

    You know what would also be awesome? Turning this into cinnamon toast! Double goodness! 🙂

  9. July 19, 2009 9:25 am

    My mom used to make me cinnamon-sugar toast when I was sick and now I make it for my kids. I wonder where that tradition started? Anyway, I’ll have to try this recipe come cold and flu season!

  10. July 19, 2009 9:07 pm

    I’ve nominated your wonderful blog for the Kreativ Blogger Award!
    Have a look:

    Hope you had a nice weekend 🙂

  11. July 20, 2009 8:29 am

    I love love LOVE cinnamon swirl bread! I cannot wait to try this:) I just love your blog. I found it when I was looking for a choco-chip brownie recipe (they were a huge hit btw) and now love following your daily bakings! Thank you.

  12. July 20, 2009 8:44 pm

    My mom always made me cinnamon raisin bread with a layer of butter and cinnamon sugar on top, too. It was one of the only things I would eat as a child (I was a picky eater back then), and I still love cinnamon raisin bread. I’ve made a different recipe before, but haven’t tried the BBA recipe yet. I’ll have to add it to my list.

  13. bpb92 permalink
    July 21, 2009 3:49 am

    Reading your recipes makes me really hungry. I will definitely bookmark this blog.

  14. March 19, 2010 2:13 pm

    THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU so much for adding the link to that recipe at the end of your post! After more than an hour looking through blogs and blogs talking about this recipe (wish I really really really want to make), I can finally find the full recipe. I thought it was some sort of a secret or something, but alas… there it is, on page #147. Thank YOU again!


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