A loaf of brioche permeated with raisins and swirled with a thick layer of cinnamon sugar is like ordinary raisin bread gone deluxe. The bread is soft and eggy, with a tender and light crumb. It begs to be toasted and eaten for breakfast with your morning tea, but you probably won’t be able to wait until the toaster pops to eat it.
This loaf is a bit of a project, but well worth it for a special occasion. But something for a special occasion. The buttery dough needs an overnight rise in the refrigerator to render the soft, sticky dough into a manageable shaping consistency (the long rise adds extra flavor, too.) It’s a true labor of love and you will probably cry when you’ve devoured the last slice, but your effort will be lauded to the hilltops by any lucky duck you share it with.
Cinnamon Raisin Bread, Step by Step
The process of making this raisin loaf is similar to making any cinnamon raisin swirl bread with one major difference: the bread dough is brioche rather than straight yeast bread. Here are a few helpful tips:
- Start with a sponge. A sponge (aka pre-fermentation) is a very wet mixture of water, yeast, and flour that is left to rise, after which the rest of the dough ingredients are added. It gives the dough a boost that results in a more complex flavor with faint sourdough overtones and a light and airy texture.
- Prepare for two rises. The first rise takes place in the refrigerator overnight, from 8 to 10 hours—this gives you some flexibility. It also allows the dough to go from sticky to firm but still slightly soft. The second rise takes about 2 hours at room temperature once you have shaped the loaf and put it in the pan.
- Shape the loaf well. Brushing the dough with milk before sprinkling cinnamon sugar on top helps the sugar adhere to the dough, keeping large gaps from forming between the layers of cinnamon and dough in the baked loaf. Roll the dough up tightly like a jelly roll and pinch the bottom seam with your fingers.
- Bake it just right. Cover the top of the loaf loosely with foil if it browns too quickly. To help determine if the loaf is fully baked, tip the loaf out of the pan and poke an instant read thermometer into the center on the bottom. It should register between 190ºF and 200ºF. As tempting as it may be, don’t slice the loaf until it is fully cooled. The temperature still ticks up a few degrees after the bread comes out of the oven, so the bread is not really fully set until it has cooled.
Cinnamon Spice and Everything Nice
Cinnamon Swirl Raisin Bread
Baking time ranges from 35 to 40 minutes. Rising time ranges from 10 to 12 hours.
For the dough
1/2 cup warm water (about 110°F)
1 tablespoon instant yeast
3 1/4 cups (390g) unbleached all-purpose flour, divided
3 large eggs
1 large egg yolk
1/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon salt
8 tablespoons (113g) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 1/4 cups raisins
For the cinnamon filling
1/4 cup sugar
4 teaspoons cinnamon
2 tablespoons milk
For the topping
1 egg beaten with 1 tablespoon water (for the egg wash)
- 1 (9x5-inch) loaf pan
Make the sponge:
With the paddle attachment in the bowl of a stand mixer on low speed, mix the water, yeast, and 1/2 cup of the flour until well blended. Cover the bowl with a plate and let rise at room temperature for 45 minutes, or until the dough looks puffy and small bubbles appear.
Mix the dough:
With the paddle attachment on medium speed, beat in the eggs and egg yolk one at a time , incorporating each egg into the dough before adding the next one. Scrape down the sides of the bowl as necessary. Beat in the sugar, salt and 1 1/2 cups of the flour and mix until smooth.
Switch to the dough hook. On medium-low speed, gradually sprinkle in the remaining 1 1/4 cups flour until incorporated (about 3 minutes.) Knead on medium speed for about 10 minutes, or until smooth and elastic. Stop to scrape down the dough hook occasionally.
Add the butter and raisins:
On medium speed with the dough hook, mix in the butter 1 tablespoon at a time, mixing until each addition is incorporated. Scrape down the sides of the bowl from time to time. When all the butter has been thoroughly absorbed, the dough will be very soft and sticky. Take your time (about 4 minutes for this step.)
Add the raisins to the dough bowl and mix until incorporated.
Refrigerate overnight for the first rise:
Scrape the dough into a clean bowl and pat it into a ball. Place a piece of plastic wrap directly on the surface of the dough and let rise for 8 or up to 12 hours in the refrigerator.
Make the cinnamon sugar:
In a small bowl, thoroughly mix the sugar and cinnamon.
Shape the loaf:
Grease a 9x5-inch loaf pan with baking spray. Turn the dough onto a lightly floured work surface and pat it flat to form a rectangle approximately 8 1/2x6 1/2 inches.
Brush the dough with the milk and sprinkle with the cinnamon sugar.
Place the short side of the rectangle parallel to the countertop. Starting with the edge nearest you, roll the dough tightly into a log. Pinch the seam and roll again to form a uniform log shape.
Drop the log into the oiled loaf pan with the seam side down. Tent the pan with a plastic bag, leaving 3 to 4 inches of headroom and tucking the open end of the bag under the pan.
Let the shaped loaf rise:
Let rise for about 2 hours, or until the dough is puffy and springs back slowly when gently poked with a finger. Your finger should leave a slight impression. Precise rising time depends on the temperature of the dough and the room it is in.
Preheat the oven:
About 1/2 hour before the dough has finished rising, set a rack in the middle position and preheat the oven to 400ºF.
Bake the loaf:
Brush the loaf with egg wash. Set the pan in the oven and turn down the oven to 375ºF. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes, or until the top is golden brown. To check for doneness, tip the loaf onto a cooling rack and insert an instant-read thermometer into the bottom of the loaf. The loaf is done when it registers about 190ºF. If it is not quite done, return the loaf pan and bake for 5 more minutes. If it has already turned a deep brown, set a piece of aluminum foil loosely on top of the loaf.
Cool the loaf:
Set on a rack to cool completely before slicing.
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|Nutrition Facts (per serving)|
|Amount per serving|
|% Daily Value*|
|Total Fat 9g||11%|
|Saturated Fat 5g||24%|
|Total Carbohydrate 41g||15%|
|Dietary Fiber 2g||7%|
|Total Sugars 16g|
|Vitamin C 0mg||2%|
|*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.|