Cinnamon Raisin Swirl Bread

Part of my weekly ritual involves going to Panera Bread and blogging in the early morning hours before my two boys wake up on Saturday or Sunday. With every coffee refill, I pass by a beautiful Cinnamon Raisin loaf. The only problem is that the $4.50 price tag seems absurd. And since Chris Kimball doesn’t have a recipe, I had to resort to Martha Stewart. True to form; Martha’s recipe is basic and decent but is less fool-proof, omitting details that are “common sense” (at least to Martha Stewart). It also didn’t have enough raisins or cinnamon, plus I substituted 2 teaspoons of vanilla extract.

Can be messy if the filling oozes into the oven.

I first made this loaf one day before Huricanne Irene; as part of our “weathering the storm provisions”. The recipe includes my improvements; which I give 4-stars. My 12-year-old son called it the best bread I’ve ever made.

Issues:

  1. No matter what you do, there is a danger that the filling will overflow. So put a foil-lined baking sheet pan below the loaf pan for easy clean up.
  2. As with most of my bread, I made a 1/4″-deep slice using a serrated knife down the top of the loaf. I make this release cut to promote a higher rise during the fist few minutes of baking.  Unfortunately, my release cut sliced into the filling and let it ooze from the top during baking. In the future I will not make any release cuts.
  3. The original recipe called for 45 minutes in a 425-degree oven. After just 35 minutes the crust was thick and hard, but not burnt. I had tented the loaf after 15 minutes. To rectify the problem I reduce the over temperate to 375-degrees after 5 minutes; enough time to give the loaf an “over spring” but low enough keep the crust from becoming too tough.

Rating: 4 stars.
Cost: $1.30 for one 9″x5″ loaf
How much work? Low/Medium.
How big of a mess?  Low/Medium
Start time 2:00 PM. Ready at: 5:30 PM. (plus 1 to 2 hours of cooling time)

The original recipe is here , which she credit to Martha Stewart. My descriptions of how I prepare the loaf today are given below:

Dough Ingredients:
2 teaspoons active dry yeast
7-1/2 oz warm milk (1 cup, less 1 tablespoon)
18 oz. all-purpose flour. (3-1/4 cups)
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/4 cup sugar
1 egg
1-1/4 teaspoons salt.
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 cup raisins
Non-stick cooking spray
Confectioner’s sugar for dusting

Filling Ingredients:
3/4 cup sugar
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 tablespoon water
1 egg

  1. If desired, measure out your 1/4-cup of sugar of which you can mix about 1 teaspoon in with your hydrating yeast. This will give the yeast additional food to give it a nice kick start.
  2. Microwave milk in 2-cup Pyrex measuring cup for 30 seconds to 105-degrees. Whisk in yeast and allow to hydrate for 5 minutes, after which you should see some bubbling.
  3. Add flour, butter, sugar, egg, salt and cinnamon to bowl of standing mixer equipped with dough hook attachment. Turn mixer to low (2 on a kitchen-aide) and slowly add yeast mixture.  When ingredients become incorporated, increase mixer speed to 4 and mix for 3 minutes until the dough is mostly smooth and clears the sides of the bowl.
  4. Slowly add the raisins until they become incorporated. Increase to 6 and continue to knead for another 3 minutes. The dough should be smooth and the raisins are evenly distributed.
  5. Spray a glass bowl and rubber spatula with non-stick cooking spray. Put the dough in the bowl and turn once to coat lightly with oil.  Cover with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place for 1 hour until doubled in size. In winter, you’ll have to use your warmed, but turned off oven to help.
  6. Using a greased spatula, fold the dough over onto itself; rotate bowl quarter turn and fold again. Rotate bowl again and fold twice more (a total of 4 folds). Cover with plastic wrap and let rise another 40 minutes.
  7. Spray a 9″x5″ loaf pan with nonstick cooking spray.
  8. To make the filling, combined sugar, cinnamon, vanilla and water in a small bowl.
  9. Turn out dough onto a lightly floured work surface.  Use a rolling pin to roll into a 10″x12″ rectangle.  Brush lightly with beaten egg, leaving a thin border around the edges.  Sprinkle the entire surface (less borders) evenly with cinnamon-sugar mixture.
  10. Fold in the edges along the long sides of the dough about 1″; resulting in a 10″-square.  Beginning with unfolded ends (the folds will form the loaf ends), roll the dough up into a tight spiral log, gently pressing as you go.  Pinch the seam to close, and place seam side-down in the prepared loaf pan.
  11. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and allow to rise for another 30 to 40 minutes or until the dough rises just above the edge of the pan. Meanwhile, preheat your oven to 425-degrees. Place a foil-lined baking sheet on the lower shelf to catch any drippings.
  12. After the loaf has risen, brush the top of the loaf lightly with the remaining beaten egg.  Bake at 425-degrees for 5 minutes, then reduce to 375-degrees without opening the oven. Continue baking for another 35 minutes; rotating the pan after 10 minutes. Tent loosely with foil when the top crust reaches your desired darkness (I tented mine about halfway through baking).   The loaf will be done when the internal temparture reaches 195-degrees.
  13. Cool the loaf in the pan for 5 minutes. Turn out the loaf and allow to cool on a wire rack for 1-1/2 to 2 hours before slicing. Dust lightly with confectioners sugar.
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