It was only as I was licking cinnamon sugar off a plate after rapidly devouring three slices of bread that I managed to put a finger on the word I was looking for to describe the cinnamon raisin walnut loaf I had just made.
And this is coming from someone who has generally preferred savory or plain loaves to sweet cinnamon-raisin breads.
Peter Reinhart’s recipe for cinnamon-raisin bread? It’s trouble.
Preparing for week number nine of the Bread Baker’s Apprentice challenge, where 200 amateurs are baking their way through Peter Reinhart’s bread-making bible, I had imagined having no problem exercising restraint around the cinnamon-raisin bread I was about to make.
While I get weak-kneed in the presence of breads filled with meats and cheeses, sweet loaves are not really my thing. I like meat or preserves with my sliced bread. Give me an already sweet bread and those combinations just don’t do it for me.
Nonetheless, I’d committed to the challenge and cinnamon raisin walnut bread was on the schedule.
First, you stir together cinnamon, flour, sugar, salt and yeast …
… then you mix in an egg, shortening, whole milk and water …
… and then you mix and knead the dough.
Or, in my case, you just flip the switch on your KitchenAid mixer and then catch up on reading about Jon and Kate minus eight — a bisexual mistress with an arrest record! A steamy trip to St. Tropez! Will this never end? (I hope not. Oh, Us Weekly, how I love thee.)
But, I digress.
Toward the end of kneading/reading, you mix in raisins and chopped walnuts. Then, once the dough is tacky but not sticky, you take the ball of dough and place it in an oiled bowl and let it sit for a few hours.
As fermentation happens, it more than doubles in size.
Then you flour up the counter and divide the dough into two equal pieces and roll each one out into a little rectangle.
You cover each rectangle with a thick layer of cinnamon sugar …
… and you roll it up like a cigar.
Thankfully, my cinnamon-raisin-walnut log didn’t look as lewd as the log I created when I made cinnamon buns last week.
(The lewd-log picture prompted my friend Melissa, a former home reporter for the Cleveland Plain Dealer who has a new blog named Domestic Putterings, to note: “There’s a Viagra/dough rising joke in there somewhere.”)
In any case … once the logs are tightly sealed at their edges, you place them in a lightly oiled loaf pan and let them sit at room temperature for at least an hour more.
Again, they really expand as fermentation occurs.
Then you pop them into the oven and 40 or so minutes later, there they are — cinnamony perfection.
I brushed the tops with melted butter and sprinkled cinnamon sugar all over them. Then, I just sat back and just took in the smell — my apartment smelled amazing for an hour.
I wanted to strip down and bathe in it.
Even after the bread had emerged unburned and relatively decent looking, I remained a little nervo
Peter Reinhart’s book had featured a lovely picture of perfect swirls on each slice — would mine have the same markings? (I know, the fashion writer in me continues to cling to the importance of aesthetics.)
I almost teared up when I sliced open my loaf and there they were …
Those three slices? They lasted all of three minutes on my plate.
That same night, I snuck in another slice. And the next day, in the name of “photographing the bread,” another half a loaf disappeared.
Like I said: Trouble.
The Bread Baker’s Apprentice Challenge
Check out cinnamon raisin walnut breads from other bakers:
Frieda from Lovin’ From The Oven
Janice from Round The Table
Libby from At The Very Yeast
Paula from Bell’Alimento
Sally from Bewitching Kitchen
Susie from Susie’s Home And Hobbies