Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Cinnamon Raisin Swirl Bread

I decided to make a new resolution.  I know it's not January 1st and it is not the season to be getting all motivated, but I'm doing it anyway.  Here goes: I resolve to do the things I want to do more often.

That wasn't too hard.  Doesn't seem like it should be very difficult to accomplish either, but for whatever reason, I have a lot of guilt associated with doing what I want to do, when I want to do it.  It's part of the reason that I keep myself on track, posting 3-4 times a week with new recipes and pictures (which I like), but it's also part of the reason that every time I sit down on the porch after work and read my book, I feel like I can't fully enjoy it (which I don't like).
Luckily for me, the daylight hours are extending which makes it feel like there are more hours in the day.  More time to do all of the things that I need to do AND all of the things I want to do.

I read this post today by Joy the Baker, and it really inspired me to take some time, go out and get some inspiration.  I've probably always known that you need time away from your passions (baking, blogging, etc.) so that you can come back to them more alive and energized, but sometimes I guess I forget what I've always known.
And them sometimes your two worlds collide.  What you need to do IS what you want to do.  There's no struggle.  You're happy while you do it, it all flows so seamlessly, everything just works.  For me, making bread epitomizes that feeling.  I have never felt more successful in the kitchen than when I pull a freshly baked loaf of bread out of the oven that I kneaded with my own hands.  It's not just the finished product that gives me so much joy though, it's the entire process.  It feels self-indulgent, but then I get to take pictures, write about it, and share it with you!

Of course, I get to eat it too.
Oh man, this bread in particular brought a smile to my face!  When you cut into it, the cinnamon sugar swirl oozes out and any that has made its way to the bottom of the pan while cooking has caramelized, making a kind of double crust.  Steam wafts up to the ceiling.  The bread is light and fluffy.  No big air pockets.  It doesn't sink in the center.  In a word, it's satisfying.  I highly suggest you try it out for yourself.
So while there are days when your wants and your needs align, there are other days when you need to get out for a "solo bike ride" or a hike or maybe just a walk around your town.  Today is one of those days for my, so while I'm out on my hike, you enjoy this bread :)

5 1/4 c. bread flour
2 1/4 tsp. active dry yeast (1 package)
1 1/3 c. milk
3 Tbsp. sugar
3 Tbsp. butter
1/2 tsp. salt
2 eggs
1 c. raisins
1/2 c. sugar
2 tsp. cinnamon

1.  Stir together 2 cups of the flour and yeast.  Set aside.

2.  Rehydrate raisins in a little bit of water for about 5 minutes.  Drain and toss in flour (this helps to keep all of the raisins from sinking to the bottom of your finished loaves).

3.  In a medium saucepan heat and stir milk, sugar, butter and salt (until just warm - 120˚-130˚ - and butter almost melts).  Stir into flour mixture along with 2 eggs and raisins.

4.  Knead in (by hand or with a dough hook) as much of the remaining flour as possible (it may not take the entire 5 1/4 cups).

5.  Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface, adding as much remaining flour as you can - you want the dough to be fairly stiff, smooth, and elastic.  Shape into a ball.  Place in a lightly greased bowl, turn once to grease surface of dough.  Cover, let rise in a warm place until double in size (~1 hour).

6.  Punch dough down.  Run out onto a floured surface, divide in half.  Cover, let rest for 10 minutes.

7.  Shape dough into 2 loaves.  Place in 2 greased loaf pans.  Cover, let rise until double in size (~ 30 minutes).

8.  Bake at 375˚ for 25-30 minutes.  Bread should sound hollow when lightly tapped (cover with foil the last 10 minutes of baking, if it starts getting too brown).  Immediately remove bread from pans.  Cool on wire racks.

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