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Cinnamon-Swirl Raisin Nut Bread

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Who can resist cinnamon-swirl bread? Not us. Not when it's eaten bare-naked plain, not when it's made into a peanut butter and banana sandwich, and especially not when it's toasted and spread with butter. Just the aroma as it nears the end of its toasting time draws people into the kitchen. "What are you making? It smells so good!"

The test kitchen made this bread two ways. The first, in a 13" x 4" pain de mie (Pullman) pan, produces a fine-grained bread with thick, tight swirls of cinnamon filling. This is what bread would look like if it were alive and in the military: all straight edges and precise corners. The second way uses two 8 1/2" x 4 1/2" loaf pans, producing two airier, more laid-back loaves, loaves that rise and crown to their own preferred heights, and filling that follows (or doesn't) the dough around it. These loaves are much more prone to suffer from the "filling separating from bread" syndrome, but don't be sad; they taste just as good, and toast up fine.

At a glance

Prep
Bake
Total
Yield
1 pain de mie loaf, or two 8 1/2" x 4 1/2" loaves.

Ingredients

Choose your measure:

Dough

Filling

Instructions

  1. To make the dough in a bread machine: Place all of the dough ingredients except the raisins or currants and nuts into the pan of your machine, program the machine for Manual or Dough, and press Start. Take a look at the dough about 10 minutes before the end of the final kneading cycle, and adjust its consistency with additional water or flour, as necessary, to produce a smooth, supple dough. Add the raisins or currants and nuts about 5 minutes before the end of the final knead. Allow the machine to complete its cycle.
  2. To make the dough manually or in a stand mixer: In a medium-sized mixing bowl, combine all of the dough ingredients except the raisins or currants and nuts, stirring until the dough starts to leave the sides of the bowl. Knead the dough — by hand or machine — until the dough is smooth and supple. Work in the nuts and raisins towards the end of the kneading time.
  3. Transfer the dough to a lightly greased bowl or dough-rising bucket, cover the bowl or bucket, and allow the dough to rise until puffy though not necessarily doubled in bulk, about 1 hour.
  4. To make the filling: In a medium-sized mixing bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients, then stir in the eggs and water to make a thick paste. If you've omitted the ClearJel the mixture will be runny and a bit harder to work with, but the finished product will be fine.
  5. To make a pain de mie loaf: Roll the dough into a 24" x 12" rectangle; it'll be about 1/4" thick. Spread the filling over most of the rectangle, leaving a strip about 1" wide along one short edge of the dough.
  6. Beginning with the short edge with the filling, roll the dough into a log about 12" long. Use the heel of your hand to seal the dough along the edge. Place the log in a lightly greased 13" x 4" x 4" pain de mie pan.
  7. Put the lightly greased lid on the pan, leaving a small crack so that you can check the dough as it rises. Let the dough rise until the pan is about three-quarters full, which will take about 1 1/2 hours or longer.
  8. To make two smaller loaves: Divide the dough in half, and roll each half into an 8" x 14" rectangle. Fill, seal, and place in the pans as directed on the previous page. Cover the pans, and allow the dough to rise until the pans are about three-quarters full, which will take about 1 1/2 hours or longer.
  9. Preheat your oven to 375°F.
  10. Bake the pain de mie for 40 minutes, then remove the cover to check that the bread is baked through. If the bread seems very soft, return it to the oven (sans cover) and bake for an additional 5 to 8 minutes.
  11. Bake the smaller loaves for approximately 35 minutes. Due to the sugar in the dough, the loaves will brown quickly; tent them with aluminum foil after 15 minutes if necessary. Remove the bread from the pan(s) and allow it to cool completely before slicing.