Wednesday, 21 November 2012

Cinnamon Toast

This week I baked Cinnamon Raisin Bread:

You know you want it.

Some of you may know that since my birthday this year, I have been baking my own bread. This is because my parents gave me a Kenwood mixer with a dough hook, which means I can knead bread without getting flour all over myself, the work surfaces, the walls and the floor. Also I am lazy, and kneading bread by hand is hard work.

Anyway I've had a bit of a bread-making hiatus recently, what with uni and such. Bread is a rather time-consuming form of baking. It is also a precise art - add the yeast and the salt together, or put the yeast in water that is a few degrees too hot and after rising you are greeted by a cold, stiff, unrisen lump of dough glaring balefully back at you from the mixing bowl. Glaring figuratively. As I've said before, if your bread has eyes, you're doing it wrong.

But if you can crack bread, the rewards far outweigh the disappointments. There is no smell quite like bread baking in the oven, as a house-guest nothing quite beats presenting someone with a freshly baked loaf with a bunch of flowers or a bottle of wine. And it's usually pretty cheap too, although that is certainly never a motivation for me. Honest.

So when my friend and ex-housemate Elena said she really fancied a cinnamon bun, I jumped at the chance to bake her a cinnamon and raisin loaf - not quite the same, but still pretty good. So here is the recipe I used, from Eric Treuille and Ursula Ferrigno's Bread.

You will need:
90g dark brown (muscavado) sugar - I had to use demerara, it worked fine
200ml milk
2 tsp dried yeast
500g strong white bread flour (I only had brown but it made the bread crustier than I would have liked)
1½ tsp salt
2 tsp ground cinnamon
2 eggs, beaten
3 tbsp unsalted butter, melted
150g raisins (a nice variation might be half sultanas half raisins, or a mix of dried apple and raisins)
egg glaze, made with 1 egg yolk and 1 tbsp water

1. Take 100ml of the milk. Heat a third to boiling temperature and add to the other two thirds - it should be lukewarm. Add the sugar, stir to dissolve and add yeast. Cover and leave for 5 minutes until yeast is frothing then stir with a non-metal spoon.

2. Mix the flour, salt and cinnamon together in a large bowl. Make a well in the centre and add the eggs, yeasted milk and butter. 

3. Mix in the flour, adding the remaining milk as needed to form a moist, sticky dough. 

4. When the dough comes together, turn it out onto a floured surface and knead for about 10 minutes until smooth, soft and supple. Or, if you are lucky enough to have a Kenwood mixer, add the dough hook attachment and knead for 5-10 minutes, it probably won't need as long as if you were kneading by hand.

5. Put the dough in a clean bowl (I tend to just put it back in the mixing bowl, without cleaning it, but what do I know?) Cover with a tea towel and leave to double in size for 1-1½ hours.

6. Grease a loaf tin with butter. Knock back the dough by pressing down on it with your fist and leave to rest for 10 minutes.

7. Roll out the dough on a floured surface to form a 20cm x 30cm rectangle. Sprinkle with the raisins, pressing them down gently into the dough (I didn't do this and some fell out while we were toasting the bread, so make sure you do).

8. Roll up the dough as if it were a Swiss roll. Pinch the seam to seal and fold the edges under, also pinching them to seal. Place in the loaf tin seam side down and cover with a tea towel. Leave to prove for 30-45 minutes until risen 1cm over the top of the loaf tin. You'll want to preheat the oven to 200C/gas 6 during this period.

9. Brush the loaf with the egg glaze and bake in the oven for 45 minutes, then reduce the temperature to 180C/gas 4 and bake for another 30 minutes until dark shiny and hollow sounding when tapped underneath. Turn out onto a cooling rack and leave to cool.

And then just slice it open and slather it in butter:

If I had pressed the raisins in I think I would have ended up with a neat spiral of raisins instead of two fat commas of raisins. But not bad, considering I substituted two ingredients. And it tasted pretty good too. Elena was very appreciative. 

I'm considering cupcakes, cake, brownies or another sweet bread for my next bake. Any suggestions welcome - I'm looking at you, MA Journalism students.


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