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James Beard’s Cinnamon Raisin Bread

Frankie Celenza

Frankie's sweet raisin bread pays homage to iconic cookbook author James Beard.

Recipe

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups raisins
  • 2 cups sweet sherry
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground mace
  • 2 teaspoons orange zest
  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 1 (.25 ounces) packet of active dry yeast
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar, plus 1/3 cup
  • 6 tablespoons butter, divided, plus additional for greasing pans and bowl
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 5-6 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1 egg yolk beaten
  • 2 tablespoons heavy cream

Let's get Cooking...

  1. In a medium glass bowl, add the raisins, sherry, mace and orange zest. Stir to combine. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight. Remove from the refrigerator and allow to come up to room temperature before preparing the dough.
  2. Butter the bottom and sides of 2 loaf pans and set aside.
  3. Warm 1/4 cup of milk over medium-low heat. Remove from the heat and add the yeast and 1/2 teaspoon sugar. Gently stir with a spoon to agitate the yeast, then let it sit for 5-10 minutes to proof.
  4. In the meantime, heat the remaining 1 3/4 cups of milk and 3 tablespoons of butter in a small saucepan over medium-low heat until bubbles appear around the edge of the pan. Remove from the heat. Add the remaining 1/3 cup of sugar and salt and whisk to dissolve. Allow to cool until warm to the touch, but not hot (about 10 minutes). Add the yeast-milk and gently stir to combine. Into the milk, add 4 cups of flour. Using a wooden spoon or spatula, stir to incorporate the flour into the milk.
  5. Turn the dough out onto a smooth, floured work surface and gradually incorporate the remaining 2 cups of flour. If the dough is too dry, add water. If it's too wet, add flour. Knead until smooth, elastic and glossy. This will take about 10 minutes.
  6. Place the dough in a buttered bowl and turn well so the entire surface is coated with butter. Cover with a clean towel and allow to rise in a warm place until doubled in size, 2 1/2 hours.
  7. Remove the dough from the bowl. Punch it down and knead again for 3 minutes. Return the dough to the bowl, cover with a towel and allow to rise again, 30 minutes.
  8. Divide the dough in half and roll each into a rectangle, 20x7 inches in size.
  9. Brush the surface of each rolled out dough with the remaining 3 tablespoons of butter (very soft or melted). Sprinkle with the soaked raisins and 1 teaspoon of ground cinnamon for each. Roll the dough tightly into two loaves, turning in the ends slightly as you roll. Place in the buttered pans. Cover, and let rise in a warm place until the loaves fill the pans and extend to the top, 40 minutes.
  10. Preheat the oven to 400°F.
  11. In a small bowl, beat the egg yolk and cream. Using a pastry brush, coat the breads with the egg wash.
  12. Bake for 20 minutes, then reduce the heat to 350°F. Continue baking an additional 20-30 minutes, or until the loaves give off a hollow sound when tapped with the knuckles.
  13. Remove from the oven and set on a cooling rack for 15 minutes before releasing the breads from the pans. Slice to serve.