December 19, 2011

Whole Wheat Cinnamon Raisin Bread

One of my favorite traditions at Christmas is having a special, homemade treat for breakfast on Christmas morning. My mom would always bake on Christmas Eve & the house would smell delicious.

My favorite years were when she'd make sticky buns because I love the inside with all the gooey cinnamony goodness. As a kid, I'd pick out the raisins & walnuts, but now I love them.

It's not quite Christmas, but in anticipation, I baked this yummy bread for the Bup & I to eat this week. I found myself eating the outside & saving the soft inner swirl for last, just like with the sticky buns.

But I didn't pick out the raisins! I added extra instead!

This is a healthier alternative to sticky buns, so it's perfect for the everyday breakfast. We toasted it & spread apple butter & Cookie Butter (from Trader Joe's!) on it. Yum!

There's something so beautiful about a simple loaf of bread.

See the raisin peeking out of the end? I picked that out & ate it immediately. :-)

I have a few slices left to share, but better yet, make your own! It may seem like a lot of time, but you don't have to do much but wait. While it's rising you can sing some Christmas carols & do all the other final Christmas prep, like decorate the tree, put up your nativity scene, watch a fun movie, or finish wrapping presents.


Whole Wheat Cinnamon Raisin Bread
Adapted from EatLiveRun
Yield: 1 loaf

1/2 cup warm milk (I used unsweetened almond milk)
1/2 cup warm water
1 (1/4th oz) package yeast
2 tsp. + 1/3 cup sugar
3 Tbsp softened butter
1 1/3 cups whole wheat flour
1 2/3 cups unbleached all purpose flour
1 1/4 tsp salt
2 Tbsp cinnamon

3 Tbsp. cinnamon
3 Tbsp. softened butter
1 Tbsp. sugar
1/3+ cup raisins (optional, but highly recommended!)

Pour milk & water into a small bowl (or measuring cup) & heat to about 100*F. If you stick your finger into the liquid, it should feel about the same temperature as your finger. Combine yeast & 2 tsp. sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer* & add the warm milk & water. Let sit for about 10 minutes or until foamy.

Once foamy, slowly add the flours, 1/3 cup sugar, butter, salt & cinnamon to the yeast mixture. Use a dough hook attachment & start to mix on slow. Mix on medium low for 4-6 minutes or until smooth & elastic.

Spray a large non-metal bowl with cooking spray & place dough ball in it. Cover dough with a cloth & let rise for 1.5 hours in a warm spot. If your house is chilly, briefly heat the oven to about 200*F, turn it off, & place the covered bowl in the warm oven to rise. Just make sure not to turn on the oven while it's inside!

For the filling, combine the softened butter with the cinnamon & sugar in a small bowl until smooth. Lightly spray a bread pan with cooking spray.

Once the dough is done rising, roll it out on the counter to form a long rectangle that is about as wide as your bread pan. Spread the filling mixture onto the dough. Sprinkle generously with raisins. Starting at one of the short ends, roll the dough tightly to form a log. Place in prepared bread pan & cover again. Let rise for about 1 hour, or until it doubles in size.

Preheat oven to 350*F. Bake for 40 minutes. Remove from pan immediately & cool on a rack. Once cool, slice & enjoy! Store loaf in a plastic bag at room temperature for 4-6 days for freshest results. Bread can also be tightly wrapped & frozen for about 2 months.

*Alternatively, if you do not have a stand mixer, you can knead the dough by hand. Stir the flour, 1/3 cup sugar, butter, salt & cinnamon into the yeast mixture. Turn dough out onto a floured surface & knead for about 8 minutes or until smooth. & elastic.


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