Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Homemade Braided Cinnamon-Raisin Bread

Make your breakfast sweet and soft with this braided cinnamon and raisin bread. 
A great way to start your day!
Start your day off right with these sweet and delicious cinnamon raisin braids.  Breakfast after all is the most important meal of the day, so let's make it special.
With a busy day coming up and after many hours of not eating, our body needs a nutritious breakfast to jump-start our metabolism and get us moving. Also, the way you start your morning can affect the rest of your day. So here is what you should do: sit back, relax (even if it's only for 5 minutes) and enjoy one of these pillowy-soft, sweet treats, next to a hot and steamy cappuccino. You will thank me later :-)
There are many variables that influences the way bread dough rises, like the temperature of the room or the temperature of the ingredients, the amount of time spent on kneading, or, obviously the order in which you mix the ingredients. So, making bread can be quite tricky, especially when the bread is not plain and many ingredients are added. I experimented with many recipes, and finally found a foolproof way for the dough to rise and make a perfectly soft sweet bread. In this recipe you first only mix and knead together the flour, yeast and milk. Let rest and rise for a couple of hours. Then mix the rest of the ingredients, knead again, and let rise for 2 more hours. It takes a little more work, but it's worth it!
I baked these cinnamon and raisin braids using my new extra-large silicone baking mat from Kitchen Executive Chef. These mats are great: no greasing, no sticking and are very easy to clean. And in this large, 17x14 inches format, I can fit lots of bread rolls or cookies at once.
So, here is something special for you today. You can enter below for a chance to win a set of this silicone baking mats. You can choose from two convenient, large sizes. Many thanks to Kitchen Executive Chef. Good luck!

This giveaway ends at 12:00 pm on Tuesday, February 10. Get your entries now. Bookmark this page and come back for extra entries. It is open to US residents, 18+ only.
You can also buy these mats on Amazon.com. And special for you today, use code 3UV37XAR at check out to receive a 30% off your purchase. Here is the link:

Ingredients: serving 8
  • 2 cups (300 gr) of bread flour, plus a few tablespoons for the counter
  • 1 tablespoon (12 gr) of dry yeast
  • 1 cup (250 ml) of milk, at room temperature
  • 1/4 cup (half stick - 55 gr)of unsalted butter
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon (4 gr) of salt
  • 1/4 cup (50 gr) sugar, plus around 2 tablespoons for sprinkling on top of the bread
  • 1/4 cup (40 gr) raisins
  • ground cinnamon to sprinkle on top
Preparation time: One hour, plus 4 hours inactive
1. Warm up the milk slightly in the microwave, especially if it's cold out of the refrigerator. Set the microwave for about 20 seconds. Dissolve the yeast in the milk, whisking well.

2. In a large bowl, add the flour and the milk with the yeast. Mix well using a spoon at first, and then your finger next. When the dough comes together, move it to a clean counter and knead until the dough is soft and elastic. Add a tablespoon of milk if the dough is too hard to knead, or a bit of flour if too sticky.

3. Shape into a ball, and place it back in the bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and a kitchen towel. Place in the oven (turned off) for at least two hours.

4. Melt the butter in the microwave. Set the timer for only 15 seconds, stir, and then another 15 seconds. Let the butter cool down. Add the melted butter, the egg, salt, and sugar to the dough. Mix with a spoon (or your finger if it helps). It will take a bit of work, but the dough will go back to be smooth and uniform. Softer than before. Cover again, and let it rise for another couple of hours.

5. Add the raisins to the dough. Make sure you sprinkle some at the time around the dough, so that they don't end up all in the same spot.

6. On a floured counter, cut the dough in 8 equal parts. Roll each into a thick rectangle. Brush with milk and sprinkle with sugar and ground cinnamon. Cut the rectangle lengthwise in half, but not all the way to the end. As shown in the picture, twist the two ropes twice. Pinch the end to seal. Place on a baking sheet covered with a baking silicone mat (or parchment paper). Repeat with all pieces.

7. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Bake the sweet bread for 16-18 minutes, until rich golden on top.


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