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.
|water, at room temperature (70° to 80°F/21° to 27°C)|
|unbleached all-purpose flour|
|unbleached all-purpose flour|
|nonfat dry milk, preferably King Arthur’s Baker’s Special (see Note)|
|unsalted butter, must be very soft (75° to 90°F/23° to 32°C)|
|fine sea salt||.|
|light brown Muscovado sugar, or dark brown sugar|
|about ¾ large egg, lightly beaten and strained|
|cinnamon raisin bread, preferably 2 or 3 days old||partial loaf|
|pure vanilla extract||.||.|
|nutmeg, freshly grated||.||.|
|unsalted butter, frozen|
|Décor: powdered sugar and/or pure maple syrup||.||.||.|
One 8½ by 4½ inch (6 cups) loaf pan, coated with nonstick cooking spray | A baking stone or baking sheet
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.
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.
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.
Using a spatula or dough scraper that has been lightly coated with nonstick cooking spray, scrape the dough into a
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.
In a small bowl, stir together the granulated sugar, brown sugar, and cinnamon. Rub out any lumps with your fingers.
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
Brush the dough with the egg, leaving a
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
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.
Mist the dough with water. Quickly but gently set the pan on the hot baking stone or sheet pan and toss a handful (about
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.
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.
In a medium bowl, lightly whisk together the eggs, cream, milk, sugar,
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.
If using an electric griddle,
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 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.
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
If eating the bread plain or as toast: room temperature, 2 days; airtight: frozen, 3 months.
Copyright © 2014 by Cordon Rose, LLC. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.