Wednesday, December 29, 2010

The year I made BREAD! Cinnamon Walnut Raisin Bread

This year I went from being shocked and amused by bread from my oven to matter of fact about it.  I bake every week, with the exception of just a few loafs that you can count on one hand, I made all of my bread this year.  Yeast is now a staple that I keep in stock at all times.

This was my favorite, and the loaf that set my mind that I am indeed a baker...

Week 8 - 2 months, 1/3rd of my time on island is gone already.  Kind of depressing to dwell on.  Only one cure for that depression and that is to make BREAD!!!

Another week spent in the Caribbean, it must be my day to post my bread baking adventures for the week. I promised myself on New Year's Eve that I would be trying to learn more as a bread baker, and if possible to cook through the"The Bread Baker's Apprentice: Mastering the Art of Extraordinary Bread" book. I brought three cookbooks with me to my island adventure. The "The Bread Baker's Apprentice" book was one. It is now week Eight of my island adventure, and here is week Eight of my bread baking experiences.  

Get the arrows ready, gonna be a little controversial here... This bread was a labor of love for my dear wife.  Because...  I HATE (not just a little, I mean A LOT) ... I HATE RAISINS.  The texture, the taste the nastiness of those hideous dried up worthless pieces of grape dung!  I gave in on Brussels sprouts and made a few recipes.  But do not expect the same with these spoiled pieces of fruit.  Never ever gonna happen.

But my wife loves em.  And she got to pick out my bread recipe today.  And guys, here's the secret to a happy marriage...  If your wife's job takes her to a Caribbean island, she takes you along as her cook, and she wants raisin bread... By god, you make her raisin bread.  And you make her a GREAT raisin bread.

And (if you like this kind of thing) this is a GREAT recipe... Stuffed full of raisins (shudder) and walnuts, and you even learn how to make that pretty swirl of sweet cinnamon.

Here's what I did...

3 1/2 cups Flour
4 tsp Sugar
1 1/4 tsp Salt
2 tsp Instant Yeast
1 1/4 Cinnamon
1 large room temperature Egg, slightly beaten
2 TBS room temperature softened Butter
1/2 cup room temperature Buttermilk
3/4 cups Water
9 ounces (1 1/2 cups) Rasins
1 cup coarsely chopped Walnuts

To make the swirl, you also need...
1/2 cup Sugar
2 TBS Cinnamon

To add flavor and presentation topping...
1 TBS Butter
2 TBS Sugar
1 tsp Cinnamon

  • Whisk together - Flour, Sugar, Salt, Yeast and Cinnamon
    Slowly add the Egg, Butter, Buttermilk and water
    I mixed by hand, but feel free to break out the Kitchenaid to mix to form a ball of dough
  • But, you should knead by hand.  10 minutes at least to get the dough completely hydrated. Work on a floured surface, but be careful to not use too much additional flour.  The more flour you add, the tougher your bread will be.
  • During the last 1/3rd of your kneading time, start adding the Walnuts and Raisins.  Continue kneading til well mixed.
  • Lightly coat a bowl with oil, roll the dough in the oil, cover and allow to raise for @2 hours, or until the dough has doubled in size...

  • Divide the dough into two equal balls (this recipe makes two loafs).
  • Now, it's time to add the swirl.  This step is optional, but very dramatic...
    Spread the dough into a rectangle 8 inches long by 5 inches wide and about 1/2 inch thick.  Sprinkle the cinnamon sugar mixture and roll up into a loaf...

  • If you don't do the swirl, form into the shape of a loaf of bread and put into a greased loaf pan.  Mist the top with a spray oil and cover,  Allow a final rise for about 90 minutes, until the dough rises above the lip of the pan.
  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Bake for 40 to 60 minutes.  The book advises (and I do) using a remote prob thermometer and baking til the internal temperature is 190 degrees.
  • Remove from the pans and allow to cool for at least an hour before serving.
  • For one final presentation accent, rub a bit of butter on the top.  then roll the buttered top in a final mixture of sugar and cinnamon...

I went into this project knowing that this bread was not my cup of tea.  But, once I spent an hour carefully removing every hint of a raisin (there were LOTS) from a slice, I loved this bread.  Very sweet, great texture and beautiful.

Jackie thought this single loaf of bread was worth all the effort of having me around while she is working in paradise.

I want to thank Mary from ONE PERFECT BITE.  I asked Mary about the other loaf (remember, this recipe makes 2 loafs).  I wanted to freeze a loaf and have it ready for our next set of guests (in one week).  I wasn't sure if I could freeze the dough, if I could, and at what stage is best to freeze raw dough.  Mary did find a site that advised freezing prior to the final rise.  But she also told me that she freezes her bread after it is cooked.  Well, I know what side of my bread is buttered, and I followed the advice of this terrific blogger/cook.  So, Michelle, when you arrive, plan on a slice of this for breakfast!

 I am so loving this book, and incredible collection and certainly belongs on every cook's shelf.  Once again, incredible recipes and more important, you learn the process of being a baker.  Anyone can follow a recipe.  This book makes you learn why each step is important...

If I can do it, you can too...

BUY THIS BOOK!  The used price from Amazon just dropped a couple dollars... JUMP on the deal NOW...

The book is LARGE, lots of photos, and information.  Filled with dozens of recipes and easy to follow step by step directions.  And now Amazon is selling this for nearly half price (less than half if you want a used copy.  Follow the link  above and order TODAY!...


  1. mine didn't get a 2nd rise so when baked was pretty flat. any suggestions?

  2. I don't know everything about bread, but you have not a response so here goes. Your yeast may be bad or maby the house is too cold, but it would have rose some if that was the case. did you let it sit [rest] long enough? 2 hours is longer rise time than i have seen except on a wheat bread i make. Try letting it rise just till double. Hope this helps

  3. I think ths is one of the mmost mouth watering looking loaf i have seen. Has to go on the short list. Thanks for posting