BBA #9: Cinnamon Raisin Walnut Swirl Bread
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
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