A slice of toast is always a great complement to breakfast foods, especially egg dishes, whether I’m eating at home or out at a diner. Whole wheat and sourdough make great toast, but I would have to say that cinnamon raisin bread makes better toast still. Most cinnamon raisin bread – including this homemade cinnamon raisin bread – has a buttery, sweet flavor to it to begin with and is just dense enough to soak up a lot of butter when you slather it onto a freshly toasted slice. It’s a small indulgence, but a good one.
Homemade cinnamon raisin bread is a great thing to make because you not only get to enjoy the taste of a freshly toasted slice, but you get to smell the bread while it bakes. The bread is easy to make and bakes in a loaf pan. You can do the initial kneading in a stand mixer with a dough hook attached if you don’t want to do it by hand, but you will need to clear some counter space to form the loaf by hand before its final rise. The dough is rolled out and spread with a brown sugar and butter mixture before being rolled back up into that final loaf. It’s a thin layer that only makes a small swirl in the finished loaf (it’s easy to see in person, however), but it does add a lot of flavor. I like to incorporate the cinnamon and the raisins into the bread dough, rather than trying to stick them only into the brown sugar swirl in the loaf so that they are well-distributed.
This loaf will keep well for a couple of days if you store it in an airtight container, or well-wrapped with plastic wrap on the kitchen counter. It is best to wait until it has cooled completely before slicing, but is easy to slice and makes a delicious piece of toast.
Cinnamon Raisin Bread
1/4 cup water, warm (100-110F)
2 1/2 tsp active dry yeast (.25 oz)
1 cup milk
1 cup brown sugar, divided
1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
3/4 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 cup butter, melted and cooled; divided
3-4 cups all purpose flour
3/4 cup raisins
In a large bowl, whisk together warm water and active dry yeast. Let stand for 5 minutes, or until foamy. Add in milk, 1/4 cup of brown sugar, ground cinnamon, salt, vanilla, 3 tbsp butter and 2 cups of all purpose flour. Stir well, mixing until a fairly smooth batter forms. Stir in an additional cup of flour, stirring until dough begins to come together and pulls away from the sides of the bowl. Turn out onto a well-floured surface.
Knead the dough by hand, adding additional flour as necessary (you will probably use an additional 1/2 cup or so of flour), until the dough is smooth and elastic. It should not be dry, but just very slightly sticky. Knead in raisins, then place dough in a lightly oiled bowl, cover with plastic wrap and let it rise until doubled in size, about 1 1/2 – 2 hours.
Preheat the oven to 400F.
Lightly grease a 9×5-inch loaf pan.
Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface and press down into a flat rectangle (the size is not critical, but about 10×14 is good). Brush with remaining 1 tbsp melted butter (butter may need to be reheated before the step) and spread with remaining 3/4 cup brown sugar. Starting with the short end of the rectangle, roll dough up into a log.
use 3/4 cup brown sugar and 1 tbsp butter in filling. Place log seam-side down in prepared loaf pan, gently pressing the ends towards the center to keep the log compact. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise for 45 minutes.
Bake at 400F for 30-35 minutes, or until an instant read thermometer inserted into the center reads 190-200F.
Turn bread out of pan onto a wire rack to cool completely before slicing.
Makes 1 loaf