Cinnamon Raisin Swirl Bread and the blustery day

Wow, I just realized how much I have slowed down adding posts since all my favorite recipes are already in here. Its been what, since Dec. 17th? Of course, I write posts all the time, usually in the shower or in bed at four in the morning, when I cannot get back to sleep and I am watching the minutes tick by. Tick-tick-tick Then “I think I will remember it in the morning (yawn) and write it up then..zzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.”

Today is a windswept, winnie-the-pooh-and-the-blustery-day kind of day, with santa ana winds barreling down on us from the deserts. It will be unseasonably warm, in the 70’s and 80’s and terribly dry. The chickens were all excited this morning when part of the fence had blown down in the night. When I got up there they were, on the back porch, looking all poofy and fluffy, with feathers ruffling in the wind and all staring intently at me.

I will be home all day, ovens on, baking about 10 loaves of bread to take to church tomorrow. I was kind of excited for a few moments. Paul is at a scout event all day and evening. Dave was going to help sail an old 1930’s sailboat to somewhere or other and be gone all day. But the skipper canceled last night due to high winds and small craft advisory. Sheesh, I almost had the house to myself all day and that meant no real meals! I mean, I like cooking, when I want to. But especially when I am baking, I don’t like breaking off to cook. Doesnt it seem like every time you turn around someone is hungry? 3 meals a day? Who’s idea was this? Imagine if we only had to eat once a week or so. Instead of each home having a kitchen, each neighborhood could have a communal one that you take turns with. Of course eating once a week would mean a lot less time spent growing all that food, shopping, preparing, working for the money for the food, (or maybe food would then be so expensive?). And what about restaurants? How would they fare if we only had to eat once a week? Some food for thought there. Anyway, with just dave and I it wont be bad. He will throw together a meal if I ask him, or go pick up something. So stop whining woman!

Todays breads are challah (one with raisins), 10-grain, potato sour cream, cinnamon raisin swirl and fresh apple walnut. (two each). Then I will whip up some sweet dough for monkey bread, stuffed breakfast buns and…I don’t know, something else. One batch of sweet dough usually gets me 3 types of pastries. I  make the dough the night before, put it into a large baggie and store it in the refrigerator. The next morning I pull it out and cut it into three parts. Easy-breezy. Would you like a recipe? Which one?  How about the easiest, the cinnamon swirl bread. I use the bread machine to mix the dough. You can use that too, or a standing mixer or your wooden spoon in a bowl. Whatever you have available. I think I can do this one by heart, here goes…

CINNAMON SWIRL RAISIN BREAD

1 1/4 cups water

2 Tbsp. butter or oil

3 1/4 cups bread  flour (all-purpose doesn’t hold up well for this loaf)

1/4 cup sugar

1 tsp cinnamon

2 1/2 tsp. yeast

1 scant tsp. salt

1/2 cup raisins, more or less (or 2 handfuls, which is how I measure)

Now, if you are using a bread machine, you would put the wet ingredients in,  then the dry, except the raisins and set the machine for “dough only”. Check at first, to make sure it is running properly (meaning the paddle didn’t get left behind). Also check it a few minutes in to see if it needs more flour. If it is still sticking too much to the sides of the bucket, add a Tbsp. of flour, then check again in a couple of minutes. If it looks too dry, cracked and doesn’t feel tacky when you touch the bouncing dough, add a couple tsp. water and check back in a few minutes.

Then, when the machine beeps at you (some have a special beep to make additions to the dough), or has run or at least 20 minutes, you would add the raisins. Then walk away until it beeps that it is done.

you will also need:

1 egg mixed with a dash of milk

a mix of cinnamon sugar

Then you take out the dough, roll it into a rectangle about 8 x 14 or so, it doesn’t have to be exact. Then you brush it with the egg wash and sprinkle the cinnamon sugar over it. Starting at a short end, roll it up, pinch the edge of the dough into the loaf to keep it from unrolling. I also pinch closed the ends to keep them from leaking. I just push down at the end and squinch it shut.

Here is the dough pinched closed to keep the goodies in

Put it into a sprayed or oiled bread pan, seam side down. I usually use an 8″ loaf pan, but a 9″ one will work too. Cover it in plastic wrap and let rise about 45 minutes. Preheat the oven to 375. When the dough is at least 1″ above the edge of the pan, take off the plastic blankie, brush it with more egg wash and sprinkle with more cinnamon sugar, just a bit.

Do not slash the top. I used to slash the top to give it room to grow in the oven. This practice may have been sound, but usually ended up with a loaf opening up too much and exposing the swirls inside in an unapealing way. Just put it into the oven and it will expand, sometimes making its own split on the side a bit, but nothing too dramatic. It has a much nicer rounded top. there is about 50 loaves experience talking here.

Put it in the oven and bake until it is fairly dark brown and reads at least 180 on your instant read thermometer. That will be between 30-40 minutes. Let cool 5 minutes and gently release from the pan. There you go! One of my best sellers at the church bakery.

If you are using a standing mixer or doing by hand it is pretty much the same. Mix the first ingredients, except the raisins. Knead until the dough is soft and supple, slightly tacky, adding flour or water as needed to make it so. (as chef Piccard might say)

In the bucket, ready to shape
Soft and supple, like we all used to be.

Then add in the raisins and mix well.

The rest is the same as the machine, rolling out, adding cinnamon sugar, rolling up, etc. Sometimes, just to be safe, I will line the loaf pan with parchment paper, cut to the right length letting it hang over the sides. Then still spray or oil it. It makes it easier to release if the sweet swirl leaks out and decides to stick in the pan.

Let cool before slicing. I never have a loaf of this to bring home for the family. I even have one gentleman who has a standing order for a loaf every other week. Its quite a treat if I make one just for us, yum!

Why  not put the raisins on the loaf when you roll it out?

Because no matter how I tried it, the loaf would separate at the swirls when I added the raisins there and fall out when sliced.

Why the egg wash instead of butter on the rolled out dough?

Because the egg wash helps the bread stick together when you roll it up, after adding the sugar. Butter is more like a barrier and this leaves gaps in the dough that show up when sliced. You can use butter if you want, as long as the raisins are integrated into the dough already and can’t fall out. Then holes aren’t as important.

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