As a kid, I remember I would get so excited when my mom would bring home a loaf of Pepperidge Farm Cinnamon Raisin bread. I remember smelling the slice before she put it in the toaster, how that cinnamon goodness would perfume the whole kitchen as I slowly waited those two minutes that felt like an eternity for the toast to spring up, and then another 30 seconds for her to smear some butter on it.
Last time I was in the States, I bought some, to relive my childhood memories, but I was very disappointed, quite frankly. The bread was rather dry, and dull. The smell was more enticing than the actual taste, and the raisins are almost miniscule! It was a disaster.
As I have mentioned before, I have this amazing book called The Bread Baker’s Apprentice, which I turn to almost weekly to churn out an amazing recipe every time I use it. This time was no different, when I decided to make this Cinnamon Raisin Walnut bread. It is fairly easy, if you have a stand up mixer, and all you really need is time on your side. So, it’s probably best if you tackle this recipe on a weekend, so that way you can have lots of options for breakfast.
I had these wonderful sultanas that I bought a while ago,
these aren’t your regular weeny raisins. They are about an inch long, and super juicy and sweet. If you can find some in your local grocery store, I highly recommend you make this bread with these. My daughter, who isn’t a fan of raisins, or walnuts for that matter, asked for a piece of bread after it had come out of the oven. I asked her to wait the requisite hour before slicing. When she finally got her slice, she said to me “Mom, this is one of your recipes that should be illegal”. She had about three more slices after that.
Need I say more?
So here’s what you’re going to need:
Makes 2 loaves
Adapted from The Bread Baker’s apprentice
3.5 cups unbleached bread flour
4 tsp granulated sugar
1/4 tsp salt
2 tsp instant yeast
1 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1 large egg, slightly beaten
2 tbsp shortening, melted or at room temperature
1/2 cup buttermilk or whole milk, at room temperature
3/4 cup water, at room temperature
1 1/2 cups raisins, rinsed and drained
1 cup walnuts, chopped
Stir together the flour, sugar, salt, yeast and cinnamon in a mixing bowl (or in the bowl of an electric mixer). Add the egg, shortening, buttermilk and water. Stir together with a large spoon (or mix on low-speed with the paddle attachment) until the ingredients come together and form a ball. Adjust with flour or water if the dough seems too sticky or too dry and stiff.
Sprinkle flour on a counter, transfer the dough to the counter, and begin kneading (or mixing on medium speed, switching to the dough hook). The dough should be soft and pliable, tacky but not sticky. Add flour as you knead (or mix), if necessary, to acheive this texture. Knead by hand approximately 10 minutes (or by machine for 6 to 8 minutes). Sprinkle in the raisins and walnuts during the final two minutes of kneading (or mixing) to distribute them evenly and to avoid crushing them too much. (If you are mixing by machine, you may have to finish kneading by hand to distribute the raisins and walnuts evenly.) Lightly oil a large bowl and transfer the dough to the bowl, rolling it to coat it with oil. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap.
Ferment at room temperature for approximately 2 hours, or until the dough doubles in size.
Divide the dough into 2 equal pieces and form them into loaves.
Place each loaf in a lightly oiled 8.5 inch by 4.5 inch pan, mist the tops with spray oil, and cover loosely with plastic wrap.
Proof at room temperature for 60 to 90 minutes, or until the dough crests above the lips of the pans and is nearly doubled in size.
Preheat the oven to 350F (180C) with the oven rack on the middle shelf. Place the loaf pans on a sheet pan, making sure they are not touching each other.
Bake the loaves for 20 minutes. Rotate 180 degrees for even baking and continue baking another 20 to 30 minutes, depending on the oven. The finished breads should be golden brown on top and lightly golden on the sides and bottom. They should make a hollow sound when thumped on the bottom.
Immediately remove the breads from their pans and cool on a rack for at least an hour, preferably 2 hours, before slicing or serving.
*Note: To add flavor brush the tops of the baked loaves with melted butter as soon as they come out of the bread pans, and then roll them in cinnamon sugar. When the bread cools, the top will have an additional sweet and crunchy flavor burst!