Cinnamon-Raisin Bread

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There are some recipes that I return to over and over, that never get old, and that I can almost make without the recipe at all.  This Cinnamon-Raisin Bread is one of them.  Ali introduced me to Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day, which is indispensable if you enjoy making homemade bread.  The technique is simple and the end result is tasty homemade bread baking in your oven with relatively little work. 

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I usually start the day with a slice of this bread slathered with butter, but this weekend I used it for peanut butter sandwiches for an awesome mountain bike ride we did through the Mt. Zirkel Wilderness.  If you ever find yourself in Steamboat Springs, its worth driving a little farther north to check out this area - it's filled with wildflowers, lakes, rivers, and craggy mountains... and we even saw two moose.  The bread tasted even better when looking at views like the one below!

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Cinnamon-Raisin Bread

Adapted slightly from Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day

Yield = Three 1½-lb. loaves

For the bread:

2 cups lukewarm water

1 cup buttermilk

1½ tablespoons yeast

1½ tablespoons sugar

1½ tablespoons kosher salt

6½ cups unbleached, all-purpose flour

butter for greasing the pan

For the filling:

4 teaspoons ground cinnamon

1/3 cup sugar

1½ cups raisins

egg wash (1 egg beaten with 1 tablespoon water)

Preparation

1. Mixing and storing the dough: Mix the yeast, salt and sugar with the water and buttermilk in a 5-quart mixing bowl or a lidded (not airtight) food container.

2. Mix in the flour without kneading, using a spoon, a 14-cup capacity food processor (with dough attachment) or a heavy-duty stand mixer with dough hook. If you’re not using a machine, you may have to use wet hands to incorporate the last bit of flour.  I find that the easiest way to do this is in my stand mixer.

3. Cover (not airtight) and allow to rest at room temperature until the dough rises and collapses or flattens on top, approximately 2 hours.  The dough can be used immediately after the initial rise, though it is easier to handle when cold. Refrigerate in a lidded (not airtight) container and use over the next 7 days.

4. On baking day, lightly grease a 9x4x3-inch non-stick loaf pan and line it with parchment paper (this isn't absolutely necessary but I always bake with parchment - it makes it much easier to remove the bread after it bakes). Set aside.  Measure out your raisins, place them in a bowl, and cover them with just enough hot water to cover the raisins, and then cover the bowl (I like to reconstitute the raisins, which this does).  Set aside.  Dust the surface of the refrigerated dough with flour and cut off a 1½-pound (grapefruit-size) piece.  Dust the piece of dough with more flour and quickly shape it into a ball by stretching the surface of the dough around to the bottom on all four sides, rotating the ball a quarter-turn as you go.  Elongate the ball into an oval.

5. With a rolling pin, roll out the dough to an 18×16-inch rectangle about ¼-inch thick, dusting the board and rolling pin with flour as needed. 

6. Using a pastry brush (this is my favorite), cover the surface of the dough lightly with the egg wash.  Mix together the sugar and cinnamon and sprinkle the mixture evenly over the dough.  It seemed like a lot to me, but do use it all! Drain the water from the raisins and then sprinkle them evenly over the dough.

7. Starting from the short side, roll it up jelly-roll style. Pinch the edges and ends together, tucking the ends under. Place the loaf seam-side down in the prepared pan. Allow to rest 1 hour and 40 minutes (or just 40 minutes if you’re using fresh, unrefrigerated dough).

8. Twenty minutes before baking, preheat the oven to 375ºF. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes, or until golden brown. Remove from pan and allow to cool before slicing.

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