Makes 1 loaf. Adapted from here.
1 package active yeast
1/2 c. plus 1 tsp. sugar, divided
1/4 c. warm water (110-115 degrees)
2 eggs, divided
3-3 1/2 c. bread flour
1 tsp. salt
2/3 c. warm milk (110-115 degrees)
3 Tbs. unsalted butter, room temp
1 tsp. vanilla
3/4 c. raisins
1/4 c. golden raisins (optional – I just threw them in for fun)
1 Tbs. cinnamon
1 Tbs. butter, melted
1 Tbs. water
1. Proof yeast by sprinkling dry yeast and 1 teaspoon sugar over warm water. I used a plain ole’ meat thermometer to test the water. You want it around 110-115 degrees. (If it’s too hot, it will kill the yeast.) Stir until yeast is dissolved and let stand for 5 minutes. When the mixture gets foamy and bubbly and smells like fresh bread, that means IT’S ALIIIIIVE and you’re good to go! If not, try again with another packet of yeast.
2. Separate one egg. Refrigerate white and set yolk aside.
3. Combine 1 1/2 cups flour, 1/4 cup sugar and salt in a large bowl or in the bowl of an electric mixer. If you’re using a mixer, use the dough hook attachment. Gradually beat yeast mixture, warm milk, and butter into flour mixture at low speed. Increase to medium and beat 2 minutes. Reduce speed to low and add whole egg, yolk and vanilla. Increase speed to medium and beat 2 minutes.
4. Stir in raisins and about 1 1/2 cups flour (use a wooden spoon if you’re doing this by hand). If you’re using a mixer, set it to the lowest speed and let it knead the dough for about 5 minutes. Otherwise you can turn it out on well-floured surface and knead it by hand about 5 minutes or until dough is smooth. You may need to add more flour here. (I did about half the kneading in the mixer and half by hand. That’s the only way I can tell if bread dough is ready – by hand. It’s ready when it feels smooth and elastic.)
5. Shape dough into ball and allow to rise, covered with a towel, for 1 1/2 hours.
After the first rise:
7. Roll dough into 20×9 rectangle. Brush with 1 T melted butter and sprinkle with cinnamon and sugar mixture. Roll up dough, starting at shorter side. Pinch ends and seam to seal. Place in loaf pan and allow to rise about an hour.
8. Brush loaf with egg white mixed with 1 Tbs. water and sprinkle with a bit more cinnamon sugar mixture. Bake at 350 for 40 minutes.
The end result may surprise you. I mean, just take a second and look at this:
Do you SEE it?! That big streak of buttery-cinnamon awesomeness RIGHT THERE? Let’s cut it open for a closer look:
Baking (bread in particular) never fails to shock and amaze me. It doesn’t seem possible that I – me, myself, moi, the same person who made the world’s nastiest burgers on Friday night and served them with cold, rubbery oven-baked frittes* – could turn a little package of yeast and some flour and raisins and cinnamon into THAT.
I plan to celebrate my rebound from culinary failure by eating the end piece seen in the photo above right this minute.
*One last thing – in my defense, the oven-baked frittes were quite good when they first came out of the oven. However, Secret Agent Man** was a tad bit late for dinner and by then, no amount of ketchup or malt vinegar could save them.
**Now, in HIS defense, the poor man was doing battle at Blockbuster for a movie that’s been on the “Movies Q Must See” list for months and THEN he was making a convenience store run because I asked him to pick up some Diet Coke to go with dinner. After all that, I really couldn’t be mad at him:)