So here is a confession for you….wait for it….the only cinnamon raisin swirl bread I’ve had until now is the mass market stuff you buy at the local grocery store. Here in Southern California the brand is Oroweat. It’s okay, but nothing I would spend one bit of energy thinking or writing about. This past week I made our August recipe for Rose’s Bread Bible Bakers – the Cinnamon Raisin Loaf. Despite a couple of minor hiccups that I’ll explain later, it was fantastic. By the way, this is the second month in a row where we’ve made a bread that I haven’t made before so I’m expanding my baking horizons. This is one of the beautiful things about the Bread Bible. With 150 recipes to choose from, many of which offer multiple variations, it will take a bit of time (maybe years unless you do one every day) to get through them all. As I write this, I am thinking of the 2009 movie Julie and Julia with Meryl Streep and Amy Adams. I may have to watch that again soon on Amazon Prime as I haven’t seen it in ages.
Made entirely with white flour, there were three important similarities with the Caramel Sticky Buns we made last month. The two obvious similarities were the use of cinnamon and raisins, as well as the spiral rolling technique. One other note, for both of these recipes, I tried the Vietnamese Cinnamon from King Arthur Flour. It provides a really nice, vibrant cinnamon flavor, and a large 3 ounce jar is only $5.95. Be sure to add it to your shopping list next time you order — you won’t regret it. The third similarity was the use of butter in the dough which created a silky rich dough with great texture and taste. I started work on this recipe on a Saturday morning by preparing the dough starter. I should note that the recipe is enough for two loaves baked in 8.5 x 4.5” loaf pans. I only have one loaf pan, so I decided that since I had such success with the Oxo cake pan I purchased last month that I would pop by Bed Bath and Beyond to pick up a second loaf pan. When I got it home I realized that my old pan was actually 10.5 x 5.5” and I’m not sure how I ended up with a non-standard pan size. Anyway the new pan was $16.99 less the $5 off coupon I remembered to take with me, and I love the square straight sides. Both pans performed well, however the loaf baked in the larger pan was not as tall. I suppose I didn’t split the dough into two pieces of quite the right size, but it wasn’t really a problem.
Now here is where my urgent need for a mani-pedi set me up for one of two minor hiccups. If you use Rose’s recipes and have read Chapter One in “The Bible” about the need to wait and add the salt after the yeast so that the two ingredients don’t come into direct contact then you don’t add the salt with your other dry ingredients. What I normally do is sit the salt container next to the mixer as a reminder to add it when I mix the dough. When I initially prepared the sponge and dry ingredients 4 hours earlier, I forgot to put the salt out and failed to add it as I was rushing to get that mani-pedi. I realized the salt was missing of course as soon as I tasted the finished bread, although nobody else seemed to notice or care.
Fast forward to post mani-pedi and rolling out the dough. The dough was very smooth and easy to work with after refrigerating it. I brushed the dough with the lightly beaten egg before sprinkling on the cinnamon-sugar mixture, but I forgot about dimpling the dough to prevent gaps from forming. You’ll see that the smaller of the two loaves does have one gap towards the top of the loaf, while the other is gap free. By the way, I do believe that the smaller loaf had risen fully so I don’t believe I had excessive oven spring. That top layer just wasn’t rolled tightly enough.
Despite these minor issues, the results were great and I would certainly bake this recipe again. Rose does provide an herb variation with parsley and green onions instead of the cinnamon and raisins that I’d love to try in the near future. Another idea would be to try a sun-dried tomato or herb and cheese mixture like the Pane Bianco recipe I tried last month. My only bit of advice is to pay attention as you go along and do not rush off to get a mani-pedi!
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