If I had to choose one bread whose aroma while baking consistently makes my mouth water, it would have to be cinnamon raisin bread. Unlike baguettes or pan de campagne, which are made from lean doughs (i.e., doughs with little or no fat), cinnamon raisin bread is made from a rich dough. The fat used here is butter (in this case, about 20% in baker’s percentage) and it gives the cinnamon raisin bread its distinctive soft crumb and luxurious texture.
The percentage of fat in a dough is usually the determining factor in deciding when during the mixing process that fat is incorporated. As a general rule, if the fat is 5% or greater than the total flour weight, the fat should be added to the dough after most of the gluten has been developed; less than 5% and the fat can be added at the beginning of mixing with the other ingredients. Since our dough contains 20% butter, it is incorporated towards the end of the mixing process.
The following formula is a modification of one given to me by a very generous friend who also happens to be a professional artisan bread baker. One of these days, despite his modesty, he might even let me thank him on this blog by name!
- 185 g King Arthur All-Purpose Flour
- 185 g Water
- 1/16 tsp. Instant Yeast
- 380 g King Arthur All-Purpose Flour
- 40 g Medium Rye Flour
- 40 g Whole Wheat Flour
- 370 g (all of the above) Poolish
- 240 g Water
- 13 g Instant Milk Powder
- 1 3/4 tsp. Instant Yeast
- 15 g Salt
- 30 g Sugar
- 90 g Butter
- 140 g Raisins
- Cinnamon Sugar (1:4 mixture of cinnamon:sugar), as needed
The evening prior to baking, mix the ingredients of the poolish to a temperature of 70°F and allow to ferment overnight at 70°F until mature, about 12 hours. The same evening, add enough water to the raisins to cover and allow them to plump up overnight.
The next morning, add the mature poolish to the white, rye and whole wheat flours, instant yeast, milk powder, salt, and sugar. Mix in enough of the water (in my case, all 240 g were used) to make a loose, shaggy dough. Mix by hand (Musings on Mixing…) until the gluten is moderately developed, about 10-15 minutes. Fold in the softened butter and continue hand mixing. When the butter begins to get incorporated into the dough, the dough will start to shred. To borrow a phrase from The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, “Don’t Panic!.” Continued mixing will bring the dough back together into a smooth, supple consistency.
Once the dough is reconstituted, fold in the drained raisins and then let the dough ferment in a lightly oiled, covered container, for 1 hour at 72°F. Halfway through this first fermentation, fold the dough as shown:
After the first fermentation, divide the dough into two pieces and lightly round both pieces. Let the dough pieces rest, under a plastic sheet, for 15 minutes. Begin forming the loaves by rolling out each dough piece into an oblong shape.
Brush with melted butter to prevent the layers from separating during baking.
Spread a thin layer of cinnamon sugar over the buttered dough. Leave a small border around the edges of the dough so that the dough can be sealed after rolling.
Beginning at the far side, roll-up the dough, all the while maintaining tension at the surface of the dough.
Place the rolled-up dough into lightly greased loaf pans and lightly tamp down the ends.
Cover the loaf pans with Saran QuickCovers and allow to ferment a second time for 1 hour at 78°F. The loaves are then scored down the middle and baked in a 350°F oven for 50 minutes, with steam being supplied during the first 10 minutes of baking. After removal from the oven, the loaves are allowed to cool, then brushed on top with melted butter and lightly sprinkled with cinnamon sugar.