I am a big fan of no knead yeast breads because they always seem much less labor intensive than regular breads. Kneading dough is fun and a good tension reliever, but they do tend to make a little bit more of a mess than no knead breads do. You might picture one style of crusty, rustic bread when you think of no knead breads when, in fact, there are many different types of recipes that can be adapted into excellent no knead recipes.
This No Knead Cinnamon Raisin Bread is a sandwich-style loaf bread that is an easier to make version of Cinnamon Swirl Bread – but still makes excellent cinnamon raisin toast. The dough has brown sugar, cinnamon, vanilla and (of course) raisins incorporated directly into it and it is all kneaded in a stand mixer, so there is no hand kneading or rolling required. You don’t get that lovely swirled look in your finished bread, but you will be able to cut at least 50% of the time and work from the recipe by giving it up. For me, that means I can have cinnamon raisin bread a lot more often, so it is a trade off that I am willing to make!
The bread smells amazing when it comes out of the oven, and the scent of warm cinnamon with a hint of yeast will fill your kitchen within seconds. The bread isn’t sweet, but it does have a hint of brown sugar to emphasize the sweetness of the raisins, which plump up slightly during baking. The cinnamon comes through strongly, but isn’t overwhelming, so the bread tastes very well balanced. It is soft, moist and light. I used golden raisins, though any kind of raisins you have on hand will do. You can even increase the amount of raisins if you happen to like your bread extra-raisiny, or you could replace some of the raisins with a small amount of chopped nuts for some crunch. Walnuts or pecans both work very well with raisins. And, of course, you could add a little allspice to the cinnamon to make the bread a bit spicier for yet another variation.
Make sure that you allow the bread to completely cool before slicing it, or the bread may be slightly crumbly. Use a serrated knife to get clean slices, and if your knife is sharp you’ll be able to easily cut thin slices for extra crispy toast and thick slices for making french toast.
No Knead Cinnamon Raisin Bread
4 1/2 cups bread flour
1 3/4 cups water, warmed (100-110F)
5 tsp active dry or rapid rise yeast (2 packages/ .5-oz)
1/3 cup brown sugar
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 1/4 tsp salt
2/3 cup raisins
Place the bread flour in a large, microwave-safe bowl. Microwave for 30-40 seconds, until flour is very warm to the touch.
In a large bowl, or the bowl of a stand mixer, combine 1 cup of the water with the yeast and brown sugar. Stir and let stand for 5-10 minutes, until yeast is foamy. Add in the remaining water, cinnamon, vanilla, vegetable oil, salt and about half of the warm flour mixture and stir well with a wooden spoon to combine.
If using a stand mixer, attach a dough hook and continue adding flour with the mixer on medium. Add flour gradually until dough comes together into a smooth ball and pulls away from the sides. IF dough seems dry, you may not need to add all of the flour. If dough is still sticky, you may need an additional tablespoon or two. Add in raisins. Turn speed up to medium and mix for 1 minute.
If mixing by hand, gradually add in the remaining flour, mixing vigorously with a wooden spoon with each addition. Mix until until dough comes together into a smooth ball and pulls away from the sides. A small amount of flour might be left over. Add in raisins. Continue to push dough around with the wooden spoon for 1 additional minute after dough comes together smoothly and raisins are well distributed.
Lightly grease a 9×5-inch loaf pan. Turn dough into the loaf pan and cover with a piece of lightly greased plastic wrap. Allow to rise for 30-35 minutes, or until dough rises 1-inch above the sides of the pan.
Meanwhile, preheat oven to 400F.
Once bread has risen, remove plastic wrap and place loaf pan in the oven.
Bake for 30-35 minutes, until bread is dark golden brown.
Cool in pan for 10 minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack to cool completely.
Makes 1 loaf.