Brown Sugar Raisin Bread

I think I say this every time I post about bread but man, I just love freshly baked bread.  The smell, the flavor, it is pure heaven in so many ways.  If I had the time I would make fresh bread every single day, ok that may be a bit extreme because I would never be able to eat a whole loaf that fast.  Perhaps I would make a loaf weekly.

This bread doesn’t need much of an introduction. This is a nice hearty sandwich bread stuffed full of plump juicy raisins with a sweet cinnamon swirl.  The possibilities are endless.  Slather it with butter and eat it room temperature, toast it till it is warm and crispy and make a sausage breakfast sandwich (don’t forget to drizzle that sandwich with maple syrup) YUM!,  dunk it in egg mixture grill it up and call it french toast.  No matter what you do to it, this bread will be delicious.  Props to Williams-Sonoma for another delicious recipe.

Brown Sugar Raisin Bread

For the bread:
1 tablespoon active dry yeast
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 1⁄4 cups warm water (105° to 115°F)
1 cup warm milk (105° to 115°F)
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1 tablespoon salt
1 egg, lightly beaten
6 to 6 1⁄4 cups bread flour, plus more as needed
3⁄4 cup golden raisins
3⁄4 cup dark raisins
For the Filling:
2⁄3 cup firmly packed light brown sugar  mixed with 4 1⁄2 tsp. ground cinnamon.

In a bowl, sprinkle the yeast and a pinch of the granulated sugar over 1⁄2 cup of the water and stir to dissolve. Let stand until foamy, about 10 minutes.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the flat beater, combine the remaining 3/4 cup water, the milk, butter, the remaining granulated sugar, salt, egg and 2 cups of the flour. Beat on medium speed until creamy, about 1 minute. Add the yeast mixture and 1⁄2 cup of the flour and beat for 1 minute. Add the raisins, then beat in the remaining flour, 1⁄2 cup at a time, until the dough pulls away from the sides of the bowl.

Switch to the dough hook. Knead on medium-low speed, adding flour 1 Tbs. at a time if the dough sticks, until smooth and elastic, about 4 minutes.  Transfer the dough to a greased deep bowl and turn to coat it. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rise at room temperature until doubled in bulk, 1 to 1 1⁄2 hours.

Lightly grease two 9-by-5-inch loaf pans.

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured board. Divide the dough in half and roll or pat each half into an 8-by-12-inch rectangle. Lightly sprinkle each rectangle with half of the filling, leaving a 1-inch border on all sides. Beginning at a narrow end, tightly roll up each rectangle into a compact log. Pinch the ends and the long seam to seal in the filling. Place each log, seam side down, in a prepared pan. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rise at room temperature until the dough is about 1 inch above the rim of each pan, 1 to 1 1⁄2 hours.

Preheat an oven to 350°F. Bake until the loaves are golden brown and pull away from the sides of the pan, 35 to 40 minutes. Turn the loaves out
onto wire racks and let cool completely.

Recipe adapted from Williams-Sonoma Collection Series, Bread, by Beth Hensperger (Simon & Schuster, 2002)

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