Friday, March 09, 2007

Whole Wheat Cinnamon Raisin Bread

It has been a while since I have posted a yeast bread recipe. This isn't because I haven't been baking them, however. I have simply been sticking to old favorites for a while, like Sourdough and Country White Bread, and have been working on a new baguette recipe that I really like (not ready for prime time yet, sorry!). What this all boils down to is that I have been in a bit of a rut and was finally kicked out of it by a box of cinnamon raisin granola. The granola was so good that after running through a box of it for breakfast (and snacks), I decided that I needed to make some cinnamon raising bread for toasting in the morning as a replacement.
Cinnamon and raisins obviously played a role in the bread, and I went for a fairly plain loaf, rather than doing the slightly more traditional cinnamon spiral. Since granola is a whole-grain product, I also decided to go with whole wheat in my bread. I used both whole wheat flour and white whole wheat flour, as I wanted to maximize the amount of whole grain in the bread but didn't want the texture to be too coarse, which can be a fault of whole wheat-only breads. I used honey, instead of regular sugar, to add some sweetness to the bread, and I used both buttermilk and butter to ensure that the finished loaf had a hint of a buttery taste to it. The buttery taste is a good feature in bread meant for toasting.
All in all, the bread turned out to be very satisfying. It wasn't too heavy or dense because I gave the bread a long time to rise a develop small air pockets as the yeast did its thing. The final loaf also had the tenderness that the relatively low gluten (lower than regular flour, anyway) whole wheat flour provides. The cinnamon was mild in the untoasted bread, but came out beautifully in the finished product. I wish now that I would have tried a few slices of french toast with the loaf, but the call of the toaster was just too tempting and just about every single slice ended up there.
Butter, jam and peanut butter (not necessarily together) are my top three toppers for toast made with this bread, but use whatever strikes your fancy. But be sure to toast it. It's well worth it!

Whole Wheat Cinnamon Raisin Bread
1 tbsp active dry yeast
1/4 cup warm water (approx 110F)
1 1/4 cups buttermilk, room temperature or a bit warmer
1/4 cup honey
2 tsp salt
2 tsp cinnamon
1 cup whole wheat flour
2 - 2 1/2 cups white whole wheat flour
2/3 cups raisins

In a large bowl, combine yeast and warm water. Let stand for 5-10 minutes until foamy.
Mix in buttermilk, honey, salt, cinnamon and whole wheat flour. Stir well. Gradually mix in white whole wheat flour, stirring with a wooden spoon until dough pulls away from the sides of the bowl. Turn out onto a lightly floured surface, adding a bit more flour as you go to keep it from sticking, and knead until smooth and elastic, about 5-7 minutes (it won't get quite as smooth as breads made with other flours, but it will still be a bit stretchy). Place in a lightly greased bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Let stand for 1 1/2 - 2 hours, until doubled in size.
Preheat oven to 375F.
Turn bread out onto a lightly floured surface and gently deflate. Shape into a rectangle, then form into a log by folding the short ends into the center, then pulling the long ends up and pinching them together. Place dough seam-side down into a greased 8x4 inch loaf pan. Let rise for 45-60 minutes.
Bake at 375F for 35-40 minutes (until an internal-read thermometer inserted into the bottom of the loaf reads approx 200F). Remove from pan and cool completely on a wire rack before slicing and toasting.
Makes 1 loaf.