Rum Raisin French Toast Royale

Preparation info

  • Difficulty

    Medium

  • Makes

    One

    8 by 4 by 4 inch high loaf

Appears in

The Baking Bible

By Rose Levy Beranbaum

Published 2014

  • About
Oven Temperature 350°F/175°C

Cinnamon raisin bread is so delicious, lightly toasted and buttered, I could eat it for dessert. The secret to keeping the spirals from separating is to add the raisins to the dough. Made into French toast and flambéed, it serves as an impressive celebration brunch.

Plan Ahead Make the bread at least 1 day ahead for making the French toast.

Ingredients

Dough Starter

Sponge

VOLUME WEIGHT
water, at room temperature (70° to 80°F/21° to 27°C) 1 cup (237 ml) 8.4 ounces 237 grams
honey 1 tablespoon plus ½ teaspoon (17 ml) 0.8 ounce 24 grams
unbleached all-purpose flour cups (lightly spooned into the cup and leveled off) plus tablespoons 7 ounces 200 grams
instant yeast ½ teaspoon . 1.6 grams

Dough

VOLUME WEIGHT
unbleached all-purpose flour cups (lightly spooned into the cup and leveled off) minus 1 tablespoon 6.1 ounces 172 grams
nonfat dry milk, preferably King Arthur’s Baker’s Special (see Note) 2 tablespoons 0.8 ounce 23 grams
instant yeast ½ teaspoon . 1.6 grams
unsalted butter, must be very soft (75° to 90°F/23° to 32°C) 5 tablespoons (½ stick plus 1 tablespoon) 2.5 ounces 71 grams
fine sea salt teaspoons . 7.5 grams
raisins ½ cup plus tablespoons 3 ounces 85 grams

Cinnamon Sugar Spiral Filling

VOLUME WEIGHT
granulated sugar 2 tablespoons 0.9 ounce 25 grams
light brown Muscovado sugar, or dark brown sugar 1 tablespoon, firmly packed 0.5 ounce 14 grams
ground cinnamon ½ tablespoon . 3.3 grams
about ¾ large egg, lightly beaten and strained 2 tablespoons (30 ml) 1.1 ounces 32 grams

French Toast

VOLUME WEIGHT
cinnamon raisin bread, preferably 2 or 3 days old partial loaf 8 ounces 227 grams
4 large eggs ¾ cup plus 2 teaspoons (187 ml) 7 ounces 200 grams
heavy cream ½ cup (118 ml) 4.1 ounces 116 grams
milk 2 tablespoons (30 ml) 1 ounce 30 grams
granulated sugar 2 tablespoons 0.9 ounce 25 grams
light rum 2 tablespoons (30 ml), divided 1 ounce 28 grams
pure vanilla extract ½ teaspoon (2.5 ml) . .
nutmeg, freshly grated ¼ teaspoon . .
unsalted butter, frozen 1 tablespoon 0.5 ounce 14 grams
Décor: powdered sugar and/or pure maple syrup . . .

Special Equipment

One 8½ by 4½ inch (6 cups) loaf pan, coated with nonstick cooking spray | A baking stone or baking sheet

Method

Make the Dough Starter

Sponge

In a medium bowl, or in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk beater, place the water, honey, flour, and yeast. Whisk by hand or beat on medium speed for about 2 minutes until very smooth to incorporate air. The dough starter will be the consistency of a thick batter.

If using the Bread Machine Method, scrape the starter into the container. If using the Stand Mixer Method, scrape down the sides of the bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and set the starter aside while you make the flour mixture.

Combine the Flour Mixture

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, dry milk, and yeast. Sprinkle the flour mixture over the dough starter, forming a blanket of flour, and cover it tightly with plastic wrap. Let it ferment for 1 up to 4 hours at room temperature, or 1 hour at room temperature and up to 24 hours refrigerated. During this time, the dough starter will bubble through the flour blanket in places.

Make the Dough

Bread Machine Method Add the butter to the container. Program the machine to mix for 3 minutes and set it to go through the 3 minutes of mixing. Let the dough rest (autolyse) for 20 minutes.

Program the machine to knead for 10 minutes. Add the salt and set it to go through the knead cycle, which will include 3 minutes of mixing and 7 minutes of kneading. Add the raisins after 4 minutes of kneading.

Stand Mixer Method Attach the dough hook. Add the butter and mix on low speed for 1 minute, or until the flour is moistened to form a rough dough. Scrape down the sides of the bowl for any bits of dough. Cover the top of the bowl with plastic wrap and let the dough rest for 20 minutes. Sprinkle on the salt and knead the dough on medium speed for 7 to 10 minutes. It will not come away from the bowl until toward the last minute or so of kneading. The dough will be smooth and shiny and stick to your fingers. With a spatula that has been lightly coated with nonstick cooking spray, scrape down any dough clinging to the sides of the bowl.

Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let the dough relax for 10 minutes. Add the raisins and, on low speed, mix for about 2 minutes to incorporate them as evenly as possible.

For both methods, do not worry about how well the raisins distribute because when the dough is deflated and folded after the first rise, the raisins will continue to distribute more evenly. The dough should be slightly sticky. If it is very sticky, knead in a little flour. If it is not at all sticky, knead in a little water.

Let the Dough Rise

Using a spatula or dough scraper that has been lightly coated with nonstick cooking spray, scrape the dough into a 2 quart/2 liter dough rising container or bowl that has been lightly coated with nonstick cooking spray. Push down the dough and lightly coat the surface with nonstick cooking spray. (The dough should weigh about 28.6 ounces/810 grams.) Cover the container with a lid or plastic wrap. With a piece of tape, mark the side of the container at approximately where double the height of the dough should be after rising. Let the dough rise in a warm place (ideally at 75° to 85°F/24° to 29°C) until it reaches the mark, 1 to 1½ hours. (See recommended rising environments.)

Deflate and Chill the Dough

Using a spatula or dough scraper that has been lightly coated with cooking spray, turn the dough onto a floured counter and gently press down on it to form a rectangle. It will be full of air and resilient. Try to maintain as many of the air bubbles as possible. Give the dough a business letter turn (fold it into thirds), brushing off any excess flour, and again press down on it or roll it out into a rectangle. Rotate it 90 degrees so that the closed end is facing to your left. Give it a second business letter turn and round the corners.

Set the dough back in the container. Lightly coat the top, cover, and refrigerate for 30 minutes to 1 hour to firm the dough for rolling.

Make the Cinnamon Sugar Spiral Filling

In a small bowl, stir together the granulated sugar, brown sugar, and cinnamon. Rub out any lumps with your fingers.

Shape the Dough, Fill, and Let It Rise

Turn the dough onto a lightly floured counter and press down on it with floured hands to form a rectangle. Roll the dough into a 14 by 7½ inch rectangle, flouring the counter and the rolling pin if necessary to keep it from sticking. It will be about ¼ inch thick. Make the upper third slightly thicker, not too much or the spiral will be off center, and make the last 2 inches thinner because it will wind up on the bottom. Also, roll it thinner for about ¾ inch along the longer sides because they will be tucked under after shaping to keep the filling from leaking and sticking to the pan.

Brush the dough with the egg, leaving a ¾ inch margin all around. Sprinkle the sugar mixture evenly over the dough, avoiding the ¾ inch margin. Starting from the top, roll the dough tightly as you would a jelly roll. While rolling, brush the top of the dough with the egg, up to ¾ inch from each end. Squeeze the dough gently all along the length of the cylinder with each roll so that it will adhere well to the filling, until 2 inches from the end. When you come to the end, make a seam by tightly pinching all along the edges of the dough to seal in the filling. Push in any dough on the sides that may have worked its way out and pinch the sides of the dough tightly together to seal. Tuck them under, and set the shaped dough in the prepared loaf pan, pushing it down firmly. It will be ½ inch from the top.

Cover the pan loosely with plastic wrap that has been lightly coated with nonstick cooking spray. Let the bread rise in a warm place (ideally 75° to 85°F/24° to 29°C) for 1 hour and 15 minutes to 2 hours. The highest point should be inches above the sides of the pan and when pressed lightly with a fingertip, the dough should keep the impression.

Preheat the Oven

Forty-five minutes or longer before baking, set an oven rack in the lower third of the oven and place the baking stone or baking sheet on it. Place a cast iron pan, lined with aluminum foil to prevent rusting, or a sheet pan on the floor of the oven. Preheat the oven to 350°F/175°C.

Bake the Bread

Mist the dough with water. Quickly but gently set the pan on the hot baking stone or sheet pan and toss a handful (about ½ cup) of ice cubes into the pan on the oven floor. Immediately shut the door and bake for 25 minutes. For even baking, rotate the pan halfway around.

Continue baking for 20 to 30 minutes, or until medium golden brown on top and a skewer inserted into the center comes out clean. (An instant-read thermometer inserted into the center should read 195° to 211°F/90° to 99°C.)

Cool the Bread

Remove the bread from the oven, unmold it from the pan, and transfer it to a wire rack to cool completely, top side up, at least 2 hours.

Slice the Bread

Use a serrated knife to cut four 1 inch thick slices. If the dough was baked the same day, let the slices sit on wire racks for a few hours to dry so that they will absorb more of the custard.

Mix the Custard and Soak the Bread

In a medium bowl, lightly whisk together the eggs, cream, milk, sugar, 1 tablespoon/15 ml of the rum, the vanilla, and nutmeg just to blend them.

Pour the custard into a pan large enough to hold the bread in a single layer and place the slices of bread in the pan. Let the bread soak up the custard for a minute or so and then turn over each slice so the second side can absorb all of the remaining custard. It helps to use two pancake turners. Move the bread slices around to be sure they pick up all of the custard. Cover the pan tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate it until ready to fry the bread in the morning.

Heat the Serving Plates and Preheat the Griddle

If using an electric griddle, preheat it to 375°F/190°C (or 400°F/200°C if nonstick). If using a sauté pan, heat it on medium-low heat for about 3 minutes, or until hot enough to sizzle a drop of water, or an infrared thermometer reads no higher than 400° to 425°F/200° to 220°C (depending on the type of pan used).

Impale the frozen butter on a fork or hold it carefully on either side and run it quickly along the surface of the hot griddle or pan to film it lightly with butter.

Place heatproof dinner plates in the oven and turn the heat to low.

Fry the French Toast

Fry the French toast for 2 to 3 minutes on each side, or until golden brown and an instant-read thermometer inserted into the centers reads about 170°F/77°C. If any of the custard remains in the pan, spoon it on top of the bread as it fries.

Serve the French Toast

Cut the bread slices diagonally in half and arrange them on the heated plates. If desired, flambé the remaining rum as follows: Dim the lights in order to see when the rum flames and pour the remaining 1 tablespoon of the rum into a large metal ladle. Hold it over the flame of a gas burner or candle until heated. Then tilt the ladle slightly and the rum will ignite. Pour the flaming rum over the French toast. Sprinkle lightly with powdered sugar and pass the maple syrup.

Store

If eating the bread plain or as toast: room temperature, 2 days; airtight: frozen, 3 months.