While simple cakes and cookies are a real comfort and super fun to be shared and enjoyed over tea time with friends and family, breads and pastries on the other hand are more involving and therapeutic. Kneading the soft dough by hand, watching it slowly rising and yielding to the yeast power, is way more satisfying. It feels great to see when a wonderful soft crumb bread, which is still warm comes out of the oven. The entire house smelling of freshly baked bread makes your Sunday even better. And that sense of accomplishment has got no match. Baking your own bread at home has got such healing and satiating powers.
The urge to bake a bread gets instigated time and again, though not as frequently as desired. But I am happy that it does at least. And I am sure the Baking Gods hear my wishes, whenever I rest my dough to let it rise patiently. A well risen dough, and you’ve conquered the battle almost! This time I chose to bake this soft, tender-crumbed, sweet milk bread with delicate swirls of cinnamon sugar and lots of raisins. Cinnamon, the spice I am truly, deeply madly in love with. And the affection grows stronger starting winters each year. The plump juicy raisins just hit the flavor at right spot. All you get is the warm mildly sweet fragrant loaf. I slathered my bread with the leftover dulce de leche from banana and dulce de leche swirl ice cream. I slathered it with mulberry jam. Had it toasted. And made french toasts as well. And I know, it’s great for Holiday season. So don’t wait, rather give yourself this treat because it is that awesome!
Recipe adapted from Baking from my home to yours
For the bread
1 packet active dry yeast
1/4 cup sugar, plus a pinch
1 1/4 cup warm milk
50 gm butter
3/4 tsp salt
1 large egg
1/4 tsp vanilla extract
3 3/4 to 4 cups all purpose flour
For the swirl
1 tbsp sugar
2 tsp cinnamon powder
2 tsp unsweetened cocoa powder
1 cup moist plump raisins
3 tbsp butter, softened
- Put the yeast in a small bowl, toss in the pinch of sugar and stir in 1/4 cup of warm milk. Let rest for 3 minutes, then stir. Yeast may not have dissolved completely, but it should be soft.
- In a mixer, fitted with paddle attachment, combine 1 cup milk, butter and remaining 1/4 cup sugar and mix on low speed for 2 minutes.
- Add egg, salt and vanilla and mix for a minute. Add the yeast mixture and beat on medium speed for 1 minute more.
- Turn the mixer off and add 2 3/4 cup of flour. Mix on low speed, just until flour is worked into liquids. It will be a sticky mix. Switch to dough hook. Add another 1 cup of flour. Increase the mixture speed and beat for a couple of minutes. If the dough hasn’t come together and almost clean the sides of the bowl, add 1/4 cup of flour, 1 tbsp at a time. Kneed the dough for 3 minutes, until it has a smooth and buttery sheen to it.
- Butter a large bowl, turn the dough into the bowl and cover lightly with a plastic wrap. Put the bowl in a warm place and let the dough rise until it is doubled in size for about 1 1/2 hours.
- Butter a 9 x 5 inch loaf pan. To make the swirl, whisk together cinnamon, sugar and cocoa powder. Put the dough on a large work surface, dusted lightly with flour and roll the dough in a rectangle about 12 x 18 inches.
- Gently smear 2 tbsp of butter over the surface of dough. Sprinkle over sugar and cinnamon mixture, followed by raisins.
- Starting from the short side of the dough, roll the dough up snugly, jelly roll fashion. Fit the dough into buttered pan, seam side down and sides tucked down under the loaf.
- Cover the pan loosely with wax paper and set in a warm place and let it rise, until it comes just above the sides of the pan, about 45 minutes.
- When the dough has fully risen, preheat the oven at 190 degree C. Melt the remaining 1 tbsp of butter and brush it over the top of the loaf. Bake the bread for about 20 minutes. Cover loosely with foil tent and bake for another 25 minutes, until the bread is golden and it’s bottom sounds hollow, on tapping the bottom of the pan.
- Transfer to a cooling rack and let it cool completely before slicing up.