In the oven: Raisin bread bakes up healthy and moist


The Associated Press

This recipe for transitional cinnamon raisin bread from Reinhart’s book “Peter Reinhart’s Whole Grain Breads,” looks daunting but requires less than an hour of hands-on time.

The resulting bread is moist with a crisp crust and pleasant texture. Whole-grain skeptics and lovers will appreciate the comforting cinnamon flavor and the personal touch that goes into home baking.

Transitional Cinnamon

Raisin Bread

Start to finish: 15 hours

(50 minutes active)

Makes 2 loaves

For the soaker:

2-1/4 cups whole-wheat flour

5/8 teaspoon salt

3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons milk, buttermilk, yogurt, soy milk or rice milk

1-1/3 cups raisins (optional)

For the starter:

2-1/4 cups unbleached bread flour

1/4 teaspoon instant yeast

3/4 cup milk, buttermilk, yogurt, soy milk or rice milk, at room temperature

1 large egg, slightly beaten

For the final dough:

3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons whole-wheat flour

5/8 teaspoon salt

2-1/4 teaspoons instant yeast

1 tablespoon honey or 4 teaspoons sugar

1/4 cup melted butter or vegetable oil

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1/4 cup cinnamon sugar (3 tablespoons sugar mixed with 2 teaspoons cinnamon)

To make the soaker:

In a large bowl, combine the flour, salt and milk. Mix for 1 minute, or until all the flour is hydrated and the ingredients form a ball of dough. If using the raisins, add them and use wet hands to knead them into the dough.

Cover the bowl loosely with plastic wrap and leave at room temperature for 12 to 24 hours. If it will be more than 24 hours, refrigerate for up to 3 days. Remove it 2 hours before mixing.

To make the starter:

In a second large bowl, mix the bread flour, yeast, milk and egg until they form a ball of dough. Using wet hands, knead the dough for 2 minutes in the bowl. The dough should feel very tacky.

Let the dough rest for 5 minutes, then use wet hands to knead it for another minute. The dough will become smoother, but still be quite tacky. Cover the bowl tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 8 hours and up to 3 days.

About 2 hours before mixing the final dough, remove the starter from the refrigerator.

To make the final dough:

On a lightly floured counter, use a metal pastry scraper to chop the soaker and the starter into 12 smaller pieces each. Sprinkle the pieces with flour to keep them from sticking together.

To mix by hand, combine the soaker and starter pieces in a large bowl with the whole-wheat flour, salt, yeast, honey, butter and cinnamon. Stir vigorously with a large spoon or knead with wet hands until all of the ingredients are well mixed, about 2 minutes. The dough should be soft and slightly sticky; if not add more flour or water as needed.

To use a stand mixer, in the mixer bowl combine the dough pieces with the flour, salt, yeast, honey, butter and cinnamon. Mix with the paddle attachment (preferable) or dough hook on slow for 1 minute to bring the ingredients together into a ball. Switch to the dough hook and mix on medium-low, occasionally scraping down the bowl, until everything is well combined, 2 to 3 minutes. Add more four or water as needed until the dough is soft and slightly sticky.

Dust a work surface with flour, then roll the dough in the flour to coat. Knead by hand, incorporating only as much extra flour as needed, until the dough feels soft and tacky, but not sticky, 3 to 4 minutes. Form the dough into a ball and let it rest on the work surface for 5 minutes while you prepare a clean, lightly oiled bowl.

Resume kneading the dough to strengthen the gluten and make any final water or flour adjustments, about 1 minute. The dough should have strength, yet feel soft and supple, and very tacky. Form the dough into a ball and place in the prepared bowl, rolling it to coat it with oil. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let the dough rise at room temperature until it is about  1-1/2 times its original size, about 45 to 60 minutes.

When the dough has risen, lightly coat 2 standard loaf pans (4 1/2-by-8-inch pans) with cooking spray.

Dust the work surface with about 1 tablespoon of flour and gently transfer the dough to the work surface with a plastic bowl scraper (try not to rip or tear the dough).

Divide the dough in half, then roll each piece into an 8-inch square about 1/2-inch thick. Sprinkle each square with some of the cinnamon sugar. Tightly roll up each square. Place the loaves into the prepared loaf pans.

Mist the tops of the loaves with cooking spray, then cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rise at room temperature until the loaves crest above the pans, about 1 hour.

Meanwhile, heat the oven to 400 degrees F. Place the pans on the middle rack of the oven, lower the temperatures to 325 degrees F., and bake for 20 minutes. Rotate the pan 180 degrees and continue baking, until the loaves are a rich brown on all sides, sound hollow when thumped on the bottom, and register at least 195 degrees F. at the center, about another 25 to 40 minutes.

Transfer the loaves to a cooling rack and allow to cool for at least 1 hour before serving.

Nutrition information per 1 1/2-ounce serving (values are rounded to the nearest whole number): 113 calories; 2 g fat (0 g saturated; 0 g trans fats); 6 mg cholesterol; 21 g carbohydrate; 3 g protein; 2 g fiber; 106 mg sodium.

(Recipe from Peter Reinhart’s “Peter Reinhart’s Whole Grain Breads” Ten Speed Press, 2007)

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