Monday, December 6, 2010

Whole Wheat Cinnamon Raisin Bread

Do you ever walk down the bread aisle and glance at the Pepperidge Farm Cinnamon Raisin Swirl Bread and think "Wow, that looks wonderful, but I don't need it" and then with a heavy sigh you pick up your regular plain old sandwich bread?

Well, I used to do that alot, and so when I saw a recipe in PR's Whole Grain Bread book for Whole Wheat Cinnamon Raisin Bread, I knew I had to try it.  Peter's method in this book is to make the breads usually over the span of two days.  On the first day, I made my soaker and my biga in separate bowls.  The soaker, which had the raisins in it, sat on the counter overnight.  The biga had 1/4 tsp yeast (but no salt to inhibit the yeast) in it and stayed in the refrigerator overnight. 

Here are my biga and soaker the next day ready to do their thing:
On the day of baking I divided both the biga and the soaker into twelve pieces each and tossed them together in the bowl of my KA mixer and then added the remaining ingredients for the bread.  Here are my biga and soaker all chopped into pieces in the bowl of my KA mixer.  I used my brand new OXO pastry scraper to do the chopping.  It worked wonderfully and I didn't cut any fingers off :)
I've made cinnamon rolls once before, but I haven't had much other experience rolling up doughs with filling in them.  I was spreading the cinnamon sugar mixture over the rolled out dough, taking it all the way to the edge, because the book didn't say not to.  I had a funny feeling though, that something wasn't right.

I rolled up the dough to place it in my 9x5 loaf pan, and when I went to transfer it, a shower of cinnamon sugar fell out all over my silicon mat.  I looked under the log of dough and the seam had  flopped open.  I looked again more closely at the picture in the book and it did look like they hadn't taken the cinnamon sugar all the way to the edge on one side.  Next time I make this I'll leave an inch or two border on one long side.  I managed to somehow squish the seam closed and get the rolled up log of dough into the pan. 

It said to cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rise at room temperature for 45 to 60 minutes, but I had almost no rise whatsoever after 1 hour.  So I preheated the oven to 170 degrees for five minutes, then turned the oven off and placed the pan of dough into it to see if some extra warmth might help.  I needed a few groceries for supper so I took off to the grocery store and was back in 45 min to an hour.  The loaf had STILL not crested the top of the pan.  I was really worried about the fate of my cinnamon raisin bread now.  I took the pan out, preheated the oven to 400 and held my breath as I slid the pan into the oven to bake.  Boy did it smell good baking!!!  Thankfully it had a nice oven spring and it rose maybe an inch or so above the rim of the pan after it had baked about 20 minutes.  The total time in the oven to reach the 195 degree internal temperature was the full 60 minutes plus maybe a few extra.

I transferred my loaf to a cooling rack and had to smell that cinnamony goodness for the next two hours as I waited to cut into it.
At first I was slightly disappointed when I tasted it, because it wasn't as soft and as sweet as the Pepperidge Farm bread.  As I ate more though, I started to appreciate the 100%  whole wheat flavor and stopped trying to compare it to something that's not whole wheat.  My bread was dense and a little dry and maybe I do need to work on my kneading skills, since I'm having trouble with the dough passing the windowpane test, but I still really like this bread. It just needs maybe an additional 1/2 cup of raisins added to the soaker next time.

My husband, who isn't a real big fan of 100 % whole wheat breads, except for a very select few at the supermarket, didn't like this bread as well, but he still said it wasn't bad toasted with a little butter and a sprinkling of cinnamon-sugar. 


  1. Man, it looks wonderful to me! I love whole wheat bread anyway but with a cinnamon/sugar swirl?? YUM

  2. I can smell the cinnamon! I thought about trying the recipe, and after seeing how good your's look I think I'm going to have to.

  3. I remember my Mom making Cinnamon Swirl Bread with Raisins as a treat when I was a kid. It tasted so good toasted with lots of butter!

    Glad you like your new OXO bench knife. I use mine all the time but wish it was a bit longer like the OXO!