Thursday, March 17, 2011

The Husband's Favorite Bread

 Has your husband, boyfriend, friend ever tried this bread? Cinnamon-Raisin-Walnut Bread. It's my husband's favorite and I just made it this weekend because he asked me for it. He never asks me to make him anything, so I had to!

We all remember Pepperidge farm's Raisin Swirl bread from when we were kids, but now that we are all grown up, how about making it ourselves and add a little twist that we wouldn't have when we were children? Walnuts!
Peter Reinhart is behind this amazing recipe. 

His book Bread Baker's Apprentice is fabulous, it even won a James Beard Book Award, which if you've never heard about, it is like the Oscar for a book in the Culinary World.  The book is so comprehensive and he makes it so that if you've never taken any bread baking class, you get your lecture right in the beginning of the book.

So you're dying to get the recipe now aren't you? We'll get straight to it.. I can't give you the recipe exactly from the book since that's illegal but here is an adaptation.

Cinnamon Raisin Walnut Bread
Adapted from The Bread Baker's Apprentice by Peter Reinhart

3 1/2 cups (16 ounces) unbleached bread flour
4 tsp (.66 ounce) granulated sugar
1 1/4 tsp (.31 ounce) salt
2 tsp (.22 ounce) instant yeast
1 1/4 tsp (.16 ounce) ground cinnamon
1 large (1.65 ounces) egg, slightly beaten
2 tbsp (1 ounce) shortening, melted or at room temperature
1/2 cup (4 ounces) buttermilk or whole milk, at room temperature
3/4 cup (6 ounces) water, at room temperature
1 1/2 cups (9 ounces) raisins, rinsed and drained
1 cup (4 ounces) chopped walnuts

Additional granulated sugar and cinnamon for swirl, and sugar, cinnamon, and melted butter for topping

1. Stir together the flour, sugar, salt, yeast, and cinnamon in a mixing bowl (or in the bowl of an electric mixer). Add the egg, shortening, buttermilk, and water. Stir together with a large spoon (or mix on low speed with the paddle attachment) until the ingredients come together and form a ball. Adjust with flour or water if the dough seems too sticky or too dry and stiff.

2. Sprinkle flour on a counter, transfer the dough to the counter, and begin kneading (or mixing on medium speed, switching to the dough hook). The dough should be soft and pliable, tacky but not sticky. Add flour as you knead (or mix), if necessary, to achieve this texture. Knead by hand for approximately 10 minutes (or by machine for 6-8 minutes). Sprinkle in the raisins and walnuts during the last 2 minutes of kneading (or mixing) to distribute them evenly and avoid crushing them too much. (If you are mixing by machine, you may have to finish kneading by hand to distribute the raisins and walnuts evenly). The dough should pass the windowpane test and register 77 to 81 degrees F. Lightly oil a large bowl and transfer the dough to the bowl, rolling to coat it with oil. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap.

3. Ferment at room temperature for approximately 2 hours, or until the dough doubles in size. (This is very important, don't skip the fermentation step or shorten it!)

4. Divide the dough into 2 equal pieces and form them into loaves. If desired, before rolling the loaves, sprinkle the dough with a mixture of 1/2 c granulated sugar and 2 tbsp ground cinnamon, creating a cinnamon-sugar swirl. Place each loaf in a lightly oiled 8 1/2 by 4 1/2-inch pan, mist the tops with spray oil, and cover loosely with plastic wrap.

5. Proof at room temperature for 60-90 minutes, or until the dough crests above the lips of the pans and is nearly doubled in size.

6. Preheat the oven to 350F with the oven rack on the middle shelf. Place the loaf pans on a sheet pan, making sure they are not touching each other.

7. Bake the loaves for 20 minutes. Rotate the pan 180 degrees for even baking and continue baking for another 20-30 minutes, depending on the oven. The finished breads should register 190F in the center and be golden brown on top and lightly golden on the sides and bottom. They should make a hollow sound when thumped on the bottom.

8. Immediately remove breads from their pans. If desired, brush the tops of the warm loaves with melted butter and roll the tops in cinnamon sugar. Cool on a rack for at least 1 hour, preferably 2, before slicing or serving. 
If you won't be eating all the bread, cut the loaves in half and freeze them wrapped tightly in plastic wrap or ziploc bags. Then let them thaw at room temperature. Never put bread or baked goods in the fridge (unless they have frosting) the starches will retrograde and you will have a product that is inedible. If your bread goes stale, just make bread pudding with it or french toast. It will be the best bread pudding you'll ever have!


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