The way to my husband’s heart is through his stomach.
The way to my heart is through kitchen paraphernalia.
The two are clearly complementary. This is why, three years in, we’re still in the honeymoon phase of our marriage. Perfect match? I think so.
In the five years we’ve been together, he has never ceased to amaze me with gifts that I didn’t even know I needed. And not the “oh, gee, thanks for that Snuggie, honey. I really needed another blanket to take up valuable real estate in my tiny linen closet…” kind of needed. The “I would have been on time but needed to put makeup on before I left the house” kind of needed.
Serious, I know.
For my birthday this year, he pulled out all the stops and surprised me with my very own copy of Martha Stewart’s Baking Handbook. And I must say, I’m in complete and total, head-over-heels love with Martha right now.
I know what you’re thinking: why has it taken me a whole week to share a recipe from Martha’s Baking Bible if it’s so awesome?
To which I shamefully respond: because I legitimately couldn’t eat a dozen leftover mini carrot cakes fast enough.
Sorry, guys. Household rule. No new baked goods until the old ones are gone. Needless to say, it wasn’t exactly torture for this pregnant woman (or her poor, poor husband) to put away the carrot cakes. I’m just saying.
This is, by far, my favorite cinnamon raisin bread recipe. And I’ve tried many a cinnamon raisin bread recipe in my day. It’s perfectly soft and dripping with ooey, gooey cinnamon sugar filling. I’m already looking forward to tomorrow’s breakfast. As long as the loaf makes it to the morning, that is.
Cinnamon Raisin Bread
Recipe courtesy of “Martha Stewart’s Baking Handbook”
Active time: 30 minutes
Start to finish: 5 hours
Makes 2 9×5-inch loaves
For the dough
1 envelope (1/4 ounce) active dry yeast
2 cups warm milk (about 110 degrees F)
2 pounds, 2 ounces (about 6 ½ cups) all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
1 stick (½ cup) unsalted butter, room temperature, cut into pieces, plus more for pans
½ cup sugar
2 large eggs, plus 1 large egg, lightly beaten
2 ½ teaspoons coarse salt
1 cup raisins
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
Vegetable oil, for bowl and plastic wrap
For the filling
1 ½ cups sugar
2 tablespoons ground cinnamon
Make the dough: In the bowl of an electric mixer, sprinkle the yeast over the warm milk. Whisk to combine. Add the flour, butter, sugar, 2 eggs, and salt. Attach the bowl to mixer fitted with the dough hook. Mix on low speed until all the ingredients are well combined, about 3 minutes. Raise the speed to medium-low, and continue to mix until the dough is uniformly smooth and pulls away from the sides of the bowl, about 3 minutes more.
Turn dough onto a lightly floured work surface. Pat out dough into a 9-inch round, about 1 ¼ inches thick. Sprinkle with raisins and cinnamon, and knead until they are just incorporated. Place the dough into a lightly oiled bowl, and cover with oiled plastic wrap; let rise in a warm place until doubled in bulk, about 1 hour.
Return the dough to a lightly floured work surface, and pat into a round. Fold in the following manner: Fold the bottom third of the dough up, the top third down, and the right and left sides over, tapping the dough after each fold to release excess flour, and pressing down to seal. Return the dough to the bowl, seam side down, and let rise again until doubled in bulk, about 40 minutes.
Make the filling: Combine the sugar and cinnamon with 2 tablespoons of water in a small bowl. Return the dough to a lightly floured work surface, and divide the dough in half. Roll out one half into a 12×10 inch rectangle. Brush it with beaten egg, and sprinkle with half of the cinnamon-sugar filling. Repeat with the remaining dough and filling.
Generously butter two 9×5-inch loaf pans and set them aside. With a short end of the rectangle facing you, fold in both long sides of the dough, about 1 inch. Then roll the dough toward you, gently pressing as you go to form a tight log. Gently roll the log back
and forth to seal the seam. Place the loaf in a prepared pan, seam side down. Repeat with the remaining rectangle. Cover the pans loosely with oiled plastic wrap, and let rest in a warm place until the dough rises just above the rim of the pan, about 30 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.
Brush the tops of the loaves with beaten egg, and transfer the pans to a parchment-lined rimmed baking sheet. Bake, rotating pans halfway through, until the loaves are golden brown, about 45 minutes. (If the tops begin to brown too quickly, tent with foil. I had to tent mine halfway through baking, when I rotated the pans, to prevent it from getting too brown.) Turn out the bread onto a wire rack to cool completely before slicing. The bread can be kept, wrapped in plastic, at room temperature for up to 4 days.