I forgot what it felt like to bake a bread: just because! I mean, I bake focaccia quite often and of course, I bake for my #TwelveLoaves baking group once a month. But it seems somewhere along the line, I forgot to bake an occasional "just because" bread.
I have to say I felt inspired by one of my friends I found through my blog. Arlee will sometimes tweet a photo to me of something she's baked of mine. I'm a huge fan of Arlee and all she does. She's so creative and has most fun lunch ideas for her gorgeous kids! Now that we found each other on Instagram, I will also get a tag from her to show me what's baking. It just makes my day...seriously. Thank you, Arlee!!
So...Arlee was up to some baking again and this time she was baking a cinnamon raisin challah. I made this one a while back. I thought it was time to try to change the recipe a little...maybe the shape? I had the thought of braiding the bread and then twisting it into a round shape.
Each strand is filled with some fantastic goodness: cinnamon sugar and plenty of raisins...oh, yes! Can I tell you? There is nothing like freshly baked bread!
I may have left my dough to proof a bit long. But, no fear...this dough was so easy to work with!
I pinched the sides and ends of the ropes together. There were some that were sneaking open and some butter making its way out. I persevered!
There was no way I would give up on this bread. You dedicate so many hours to making it with the high hopes of soon having the most heavenly smell come out of the oven.
I thought it best to carefully lift it into a 9-inch spring form pan (I did spray it with baking spray). The bread was braided on top of parchment paper. I ripped the paper around the sides and left it only right underneath the form of the bread (a circle of parchment paper with a little overhang for me to carefully lift).
my thoughts on this bread:
I didn't have to let it rise too long. It rose again for about 15 minutes. I knew it was ready to go in the oven and that it would rise beautifully...and boy, did it ever! I baked this bread as one round bread. I wasn't sure how my dough was going because I let it rise too long. But this dough is really enough to do 2 breads. So use 2 round spring form pans (or a 9 inch cake pan). I lowered the temperature after 30 minutes because it wasn't quite done in the middle. I kept on baking for about another 30 minutes on 325. Check your bread because you don't want it to get too brown. If you aren't as daring as me and want to try to braid and then twist into a round shape, keep it as a braid. The braid will bake faster...you could see my post on the braid here. Suggestions for any leftover: French toast! Yes, this makes killer French toast!! Trust me, it's worth making it to just have the French toast!
Tomorrow we have a dinner with friends for their Jewish holiday so I will be making a regular challah braid to bring to them. I know they will be thrilled to receive it...and I can practice my braiding a little more!! To my friends that celebrate, Happy Rosh Hashanah!!
Cinnamon Raisin Bread
Yield: 2 round breads
- For the dough
- 1 package (2 1/4 teaspoons) active dry yeast
- 1 cup warm water (no more than 110°F [43°C])
- 1/3 cup sugar
- 4 1/2 to 5 cups bread flour, or 5 1/2 to 6 cups bleached all-purpose flour
- 3 eggs
- 1/4 cup peanut, corn, or canola oil
- 2 teaspoons salt
- For the filling:
- 1 Tbsp. ground cinnamon
- 1/4 cup white granulated sugar
- 1/2 to 1 cup raisins, according to taste
- 4 Tbsp melted butter
- For the egg wash:
- 1 egg
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- In a mixer, with a dough hook attachment, add the warm water and yeast. Mix until blended. Add the sugar and mix about a minute. Slowly mix in 1 cup of the flour until combined. Mix in the eggs one at a time until they are combined. Add another 2 cups of the flour, oil, and salt. Mix together on medium-low speed stopping the machine to scrape down the sides of the bowl. Slowly add the rest of the flour (the remaining 4 cups) and mix until combined. Stop the machine as you add each cup of the flour to scrape the sides of the bowl and incorporate the flour. Mix on low speed for 12 minutes until dough is incorporated. Be sure to give your mixer a break and as you don’t want to burn it out. Add flour if needed 1 tablespoon at a time. The dough will be a little sticky but also firm.
- Take dough out of mixer bowl. Form the dough into a ball and place into an oiled bowl (when I put the dough in the bowl I swish the dough around the bottom of the bowl and then flip it over so all of the dough is covered in a light film of oil. I use vegetable oil). Cover with plastic wrap and let it rise at room temperature until doubled in size (about 1-1 1/2 hours).
- Punch down the dough. Divide the dough into 6 equal portions. Shape each portion into a ball, and allow it to rest with plastic wrap on it for 5-10 minutes.
- Cover 3 of the dough balls and let them rest. Roll 3 of the dough balls into long piece and then flatten to form a rectangle. Brush the top with melted butter and sprinkle with the cinnamon sugar filling. Top with raisins.Pinch together to form 3 filled strands.Carefully move the 3 filled strands onto a sheet of parchment paper. Braid the strands together to form a loaf. Carefully twist the braid around into a round loaf. Rip the parchment paper around the sides of the loaf and leave a little to be able to lift the bread up. Lift up the loaf, and place into a spring form pan that has been sprayed with baking spray.
- Repeat process with the other3 dough balls. Cover and let rise in a draft free place for about 30 minutes (I let mine rise for just about 15). While resting, preheat oven to 350 F.
- When ready to bake, brush with egg wash.
- If making one large loaf, bake the challah for 30 minutes (on 350 F). Lower the heat to 325 F and bake for about another 25-30 minutes. If making two round loaves, the bread may be done in about 45 minutes. You still could lower the heat after the first 30 minutes.
- The bread should be golden brown. Ovens may vary so check your challah see how it’s doing. If the top is browning too much, cover with foil for remainder of baking time. Let it cool and serve slightly warm or at room temperature.