Getting Right to the Point

Last week, my friend Peggy and I were talking about blogging—the reasons we do it, the challenges it poses, sometimes (often in my case), in the form of keeping up.

Naturally, what follows will be an excuse. A reason why not, I suppose.

Don’t say you haven’t been warned.

And, so: I’m trying to keep up, really, I am. Thankfully these days, the cooking and baking isn’t the problem. It’s the posting—I mean, how many posts that start with and apology and a statement of how busy it’s been will you read before you stop following me?

That question, by the way, is not strictly rhetorical.

Seriously, how many will more free passes do I get? I’ve got a few good recipes still in need of introductions.

And, I’m done. I’m going to take to heart something that Peggy said; instead of qualifying our actions, we should simply do. The best results come from action rather than explanation. What’s important here is the process.

So, with Peggy’s admonitions in mind, I’ll leave you with this recipe for bread, and a promise to post more soon. And, likewise, in the spirit of doing, did I mention that I’m taking three days off of work to take a bread making class? Well, I am, and I couldn’t be more excited.

I think that my baking has officially transcended the label of “hobby”.

Cinnamon Raisin Swirl Bread

Adapted from Dorie Greenspan by way of Katy Elliot and Martha Stewart’s Baking Handbook

Before you get started: I didn’t line my baking pans with parchment, thinking that buttering would be enough. Had I not stretched my dough thin to get two smaller loaves, that would have been fine. But, I did, so some of the filling leaked out, causing the bread to stick. Next time I make this, I plan on lining my pans with greased parchment paper and suggest that you do to the same.

For The Bread:
1 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast
¼ cup sugar, plus a pinch
1 ¼ cups just-warm-to-the-touch whole milk
½ stick (4 tablespoons) unsalted, at room temperature
¾ teaspoon salt
1 large egg
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup raisins
1/2 tsp cinnamon
Pinch of grated nutmeg
4 cups all-purpose flour

For The Swirl:
1 tablespoon sugar
2 teaspoons grounded cinnamon
2 TBS water

Make sure that the milk is at room temperature, and add it to the bowl of an electric mixer, sprinkling the yeast over it. Add the flour, butter, sugar, egg, cinnamon, nutmeg, vanilla, and salt. Using a dough hook, mix on the lowest speed until all of the ingredients have combined. Once that has happened, add the raisins into the mixture. Increase the speed to medium low, mixing the dough until it is uniformly smooth and it pulls away from the sides of the mixing bowl. This will take about 3 more minutes.

Place the dough into a lightly oiled blow, and cover it with lightly oiled plastic wrap. Let the dough rise until it is doubled in size, about 1 1/2 hours.

Punch the dough down and then allow it to rise again until it has doubled in size, approximately 40 minutes to an hour.

Scrape the dough onto a large piece of plastic wrap, and divide it into two even pieces. Wrap them and put them in the freezer for 30 minutes or firm enough to be rolled easily.

While the dough is resting, butter two 9-x-5-inch loaf pans and make the filling by whisking together the cinnamon, sugar, and water so that it forms a paste. Set aside until you are ready to roll the dough..

Put once piece of the the dough on a large work surface lightly dusted with flour, and roll the dough into a rectangle that is slightly shorter than the length of your baking pan. Sprinkle half of your filling on top of the dough. With the short end of the dough rectangle facing you, fold in both long sides of the dough, about an inch. This will form a wall to hold in your filling. Once this step is completed, roll the filled dough toward you, gently pressing as you go, to form a tight log. Then roll it back and forth to seal the seam. Place the loaf in your pan, seam side down.

Repeat the process with the remaining dough.

Cover the pans loosely with the wax paper and set in a warm place; let the dough rise until it comes just a little above the edge of the pan, about 30-45 minutes.

As the dough is rising, preheat your oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit.

Once the loafs have risen, bake them for 45 minutes, rotating halfway through. You want the tops to be golden brown, so if they are browning too fast, tent the tops with aluminum foil.

Cool to room temperature before serving.

Makes two loaves

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3 Comments

Filed under Bread, Brunch, Uncategorized

3 responses to “Getting Right to the Point

  1. Great post, Hillary! That Peggy sure does seem like a wise lady… 🙂

  2. Colleen

    Hi Hillary!
    Cinnamon raisin bread is one of my favorite things! Question: if you don’t have one of those lovely Kitchen Aid mixers with the dough hook attachment, can you just mix until doughy and then knead?

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