Chasing Delicious | Cinnamon Pecan Raisin Swirl Bread
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Cinnamon Pecan Raisin Swirl Bread

Golden rays and the light blue glow of a waking morning sky is but a distant thought as a proud, territorial rooster begins to crow. The bird’s familiar call rings out over open land beckoning cows, pigs, goats, horses, hens and families to end their slumber. Dirty, time-scarred hands belonging to a decades-old farmer manipulate piles of hay, mend broken fences, and drag feed from one pen to the next. Inside, the weathered face of farmer’s partner shows a determined smile; softer hands clear the dirty plates and remains from a hearty breakfast.

A distant sun begins to scrape the dew-laden grassy land drawing long, dramatic shadows across the terrain. A yellow glow hugs lone trees and big, worn down barn houses. The chug of a marauding tractor rumbles in the distance as freshly churned butter, home-milled flours, and milk from a favorite cow is collected. Delicate experienced hands toss and knead familiar ingredients together on a scratched and chipped cutting board made years earlier by the very same hands. A compact ball of sweet dough is dropped in to a dented, clanky old bowl and covered with a food-stained rustic towel; the bowl is set near a warm window and forgotten as chores are tended to.

Hours later as city folk begin to wake for their tedious jobs, with the sun traveling far from the horizon, a puffy, inflated mound of dough is punched down and tossed and turned in on itself. Set back by the warm window to work away creating delicious layers of flavor, soft hands begin preparing the next meal. A comfortable, hearty lunch is prepared for a busy working couple as a small reward for their hard work. Dirt covered hands join soft flour dusted hands at a table as old and scarred as both. Tired eyes and comfortable souls enjoy a homegrown, homemade meal in a years-perfected silence. Smiles and flirty glances peak from behind wrinkles. As quick as the two come together they are both off to their work separated by acres and acres once again.

A waiting, growing, maturing sweet dough is finally shaped  in a loaf pan, set to wait again on a lumbering, warming oven. Soon in the hot oven it grows into its beautiful, soft golden brown crust. It is carefully removed and a pad of soft butter is left to melt over the hot loaf turning the drab crust into a shiny, enticing envelope hiding a soft, perfect white crumb. A dull, serrated knife tears and slips into the bread creating crude slices. A few are tucked away for tomorrow and a few are laid delicately on a platter for dinner. Amongst a sea of dishes, the bread is reached for first by barely clean, hungry hands, hours of work devoured in a matter of seconds.

Baking bread transports me to simpler times when life was anything but simple. The work, while more concerted than a typical baked good, is well worth the effort and time spent waiting, smelling, dreaming of homemade bread. This is my go-to white bread loaf with a delicious surprise waiting inside. Perfect with breakfast, or even as bread for a sandwich, this delicious bread is sweet, nutty and wonderfully cinnamony.

Bread: Making bread from scratch may seem scary but it is actually quite simple. Your best friend in baking bread is patience. Dough needs time to not only build structure but to develop flavor. Don’t rush any of the rising times. I’ve include a few very easy suggestions that if followed should yield you an excellent loaf of bread.

Sponge Bread: This bread has an extra step at the beginning which calls for preparing a sponge. A sponge is all of the dough’s liquid ingredients  and most of the dough’s yeast mixed with a portion of the dough’s dry ingredients. The sponge is left to rise before being mixed with the rest of the dough. This is done for flavor as it gives the yeast a chance to work uninterrupted from other ingredients. The longer a sponge  is left to rise, the stronger the flavor will be. You can let a sponge rise anywhere from 1 hour to 24 hours.

Ingredients: Honey helps gives bread a darker crust during baking and adds sweetness. Milk needs to be scaled to kill an enzyme which if left active can impede yeast production and result in a sticky, weak dough – not a good thing. Active dry yeast has to be dissolved in warm liquid before mixing; the liquid needs to be between 105 and 115 – use a thermometer, don’t guess. Bread flour gives a bread more structure though you can substitute all purpose flour with no problem.

 Tips/Tricks: Yeast is finicky – too cold and it wont work, too hot and it dies. It rises best around 80°F. If your house is cold – like mine which is kept around 68 – then preheat your oven for 1 minute at 400°F. Turn the oven off and place the dough in the oven to rise. It should feel just barely warm, not hot in there.

If your dough has not fully doubled in volume after the allotted time, give it more time – this simply means your dough or the kitchen is too cool. If you dough hasn’t risen at all after a couple hours, then the yeast is dead and you will need to start over.

While it is tempting to eat bread fresh out of the oven, bread requires a cooling period to finish building its structure. Yeah who am I kidding. I cheat all the time and take a slice or two as soon as it comes out.

 

Cinnamon Pecan Raisin Swirl Bread

This recipe is adapted from Rose Levy Beranbaum and her excellent book, The Bread Bible. You will need a lightly buttered 9 inch by 4 inch loaf pan for this recipe.

I’ve broken the recipe into three basic parts (sponge, dough and swirl) so take care to notice what ingredients are added when. This dough requires about five to six hours from start to finish so be sure to allot enough time.

Ingredients (Sponge)

6 ounces bread flour
9 ounces whole milk
1 ounce honey
1/4 ounce (1 teaspoon) Active Dry Yeast

Ingredients (Dough)

5 ounces bread flour
1/8 ounce (1/2 teaspoon) Active Dry Yeast
2 ounces butter, very soft
1 teaspoon salt
3 1/2 ounces raisins
2 ounces pecans, chopped

Ingredients (Spice Sugar Swirl)

2 ounces sugar
1 tablespoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1 egg, lightly beaten

Instructions

1. Make the Sponge. Scald the milk and remove from the heat. Let the milk cool until it reaches 115°F. Pour the milk into a large bowl and dissolve the yeast in the milk. Add the honey and flour and mix with a whisk for a couple minutes until a thick batter comes together.

2. Let the Sponge Rise – First Rise. Cover the bowl and let the sponge rise for 1 hour. You can let it rise for up to 24 hours, but if you do it longer than a couple hours put the mixture in the fridge.

3. Make the Dough. Add the remaining bread flour, remaining yeast and the butter. Knead until the dough comes together, about 2 minutes. Add the salt and knead for 7 to 10 minutes until the dough is elastic and smooth. Add the raisins and pecans and knead for another minute.

4. Let the Dough Rise – Second Rise. Butter a glass or metal bowl and put the dough in the bowl. Cover the bowl and let the dough rise for 1 1/2 to 2 hours or until the dough has doubled in volume.

5. Let the Dough Rise – Third Rise. Punch the dough down – flatten it to remove most of the air - and knead it lightly for 30 seconds with your hands. Place the dough back in the bowl, cover and let it rise 1 hour in the fridge. 

6. Add the Swirl.  Mix together the sugar, nutmeg and cinnamon in a bowl.  On a lightly floured surface roll the dough out until it is about 1/2 inch thick and about 7 inches wide by 12 inches long.  Brush some of the egg mixture on the top of the dough leaving 1/2 inch around the edges untouched. Add the sugar spice mixture on top of brushed egg mixture, again leaving 1/2 inch untouched around the outside.

7. Shape the Dough. Starting with the short end, roll the dough tightly like you would cinnamon rolls or a jelly roll. As you roll brush the dough with the egg mixture. Once you have rolled the dough pinch all of the the edges together. Tuck the outside edges in and down so the rolled dough will fit in the prepared loaf pan.

8. Let the Dough Rise – Final Rise. Place the roll in the buttered pan. Let the dough rise in the pan for 1 1/2 to 2 hours until just under doubled in volume (it should stick 1 1/2 inches above the top of the pan).  Preheat the oven to 350°F at least 45 minutes before baking, with the oven rack in the very bottom position.

9. Bake the Bread. Bake the dough for 50 minutes in the preheated oven until the crust is golden brown and a skewer inserted in the center comes out clean. Turn the pan once 25 minutes into baking, otherwise don’t open the oven door at all.

10. Cool the Bread. Brush a little melted butter over the top of the bread and let it cool in the pan for about an hour before serving.

Enjoy!

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AUTHOR - Russell van Kraayenburg

Founder of Chasing Delicious, and author of Haute Dogs, Russell's works have been featured in Southern Living, Men's Fitness, Redbook, TRADHome, and Real Simple magazines and on various sites including Lifehacker, Fast Co., Business Insider, The Kitchn, Live Originally, Quipsologies, Explore, and Fine Cooking. Follow Russell on Twitter @rvank and Instagram. Get more delicious @chasedelicious.

59 Comments

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  • Stephanie

    My favorite type of baking of all time! Bread! This looks so tasty.. I can almost smell the fresh bread baking. How do you feel about the Bread Bible over all? I’ve resisted adding it to my bread book collection (which is mostly Peter Reinhart..) because some of the bread forums don’t like her choice of recipes (although they all agree that the recipes work just fine).
    I am in love with the picture with the bread, eggs, and that gingham napkin!

    • Russell

      I really like the book. I learned most of my baking skills from Bo Friberg’s books but her book is super helpful. The first 100 pages or so is all about the science behind baking bread, which is what I look for in cookbooks. I’ve liked most of the recipes I have tried from the book too. I tend to adapt recipes I try from the get go though and I haven’t tried all of her recipes so I may not be the best judge at this point.

      And thank you very much! I’m glad you like the new logo.

  • Stephanie

    also, love the new logo!!!

  • Ken @ hungry rabbit

    You’ve got a nice looking loaf there. I can probably eat more than half if not the entire loaf all by myself.

  • Paula @ Dishing the Divine

    I love that you admit that you cheat. :) I do too even though my mom *always* yelled at me as a kid about that. :)

  • Kathryn

    I’ve struggled with making bread in the past so your tips are super helpful; this looks so delicious!

  • Erin

    There is a lot going on in this bread and I love it!

  • Tina@flourtrader

    This really is a great post! You have some wonderful tips. The dead yeast thing would be irritating…You did a wonderful job on the bread swirl and the bread has great texture. Thanks for posting this.

  • Joy

    Ohh that looks so good.

  • Lilly

    Hi Russell, did you made any changes on your blog? I don’t remember seeing a pie on it earlier. Very cool though.
    Thanks for all the tips, they are very useful. You always make the greatest things and everything always looks so good.
    Can you show me how to bake it when I’m in town?

    • Russell

      Hey Lilly! I did make a few changes, really just to my logo. I switched out the square logo with this round, more retro look. Thank you.

      And I can sure try! I am definitely not a pro but I do try and research a lot about baking.

  • Cassie @ Bake Your Day

    “Simpler times when life was anything but simple”…what a great line. That’s so true and I can see how making bread takes you there. I love making bread. That swirl is beautiful!

  • RavieNomNoms

    YUM!! This bread is so fabulous! I love the pecan addition. I am sure that just makes the bread have just that little bit of added butteriness (is that a word?) baked right in.

    Btdubs, you are so welcome! Thanks for coming and visiting :-)

  • Christine

    I love this bread. Looks so good.

  • Meeta

    now this would be my kind of breakfast. i love yeasted sweet breads and find it grounds me and works like therapy. i can literally smell the aroma from here!

  • Kelly

    Thanks for the comment back on my blog. I appreciated the answer.

  • Miriam @ Overtime Cook

    This bread looks amazing Russel! One day when I go off my diet I’m going to bake a loaf and eat it. All. By. My. Self. (Until then I’ll be glad the pictures are so gorgeous…)

    :) -Miriam

  • torviewtoronto

    delicious looking bread wonderfully done

  • The Cooking Teacher

    Just made a cinnamon swirl bread almost identical to this today, funny how the weather can get everyone in the mood for something. Mine is actually a gift for my boss who just bought 5 new kitchen aid mixers for my classroom. I love they way you have broken down this recipe into simple steps, as well as the story, I visualized every bit of it. You taught me something new about the reasoning behind scalding the milk – I will be crediting you tonight in my Food Science course!

  • jeannette

    I am putting this bread in my oven tonight. Believe it. Then I am going to snuggle with the warm loaf. Ok, that’s weird but I’ll be damned if I’m not stealing a slice straight out of the oven. Amazing loaf and beautiful picture painting with your words, as always.

  • Heather

    This bread looks truly glorious.

  • Happy When Not Hungry

    This bread is beautiful! I would love this bread toasted with some butter. Yum!

  • Anne@frommysweetheart

    Russell! What a gorgeous bread! Never mind that I love all of the ingredients here. It is simply picture perfect! And I love that you added all of the tips on assuring our breadmaking is a successful experience. I read on another blogger’s post that if her house is a bit chilly and she needs to get a rise out of her dough, she sets the bowl on a heating pad! Oh what we do for the love of baking!!!

    • Russell

      That’s such a good idea! I would have never thought of doing that. And you’re right about that, us foodies will stop at nothing to satiate our cravings.

  • Reem | Simply Reem

    Before I say anything else, I have to say that you are a terrific writer…
    God i love reading your post…
    And this bread is screaming deliciousness…
    It looks so pretty absolutely studded with jewels of flavors…

  • Carissa @ Pretty/Hungry

    Looks delicious! I have yet to bake up a really killer cinnamon loaf… I’ll have to give this one a shot!

  • RChristopher

    Russell, another amazing post. Really love your shot with the sunny side up eggs. Breakfast is my favorite meal of the day. I’m looking forward to trying this recipe soon.
    P.S. The new logo looks great.

  • Ali

    Simple yet still a delicacy!! I bet you enjoyed the sweet smell while you were preparing this. Your swirl bread looks amazingly beautiful.

  • Elies_Lie

    Hi russel! What a breakfast!!
    egg & pecan raisin bread! I’m a morning dessert person, so count me in! :D
    well… u’re not the only one whoe do the “cheating” thing when the bread are come out fr the oven! LOL
    YuM-YuM! Buzzed! ;)

  • Nava Krishnan

    what a delicious looking cake, nice with nuts inside.

  • Patricia Scarpin

    This is one of my favorites breads. I love it! It’s great fresh from the oven but also toasted with some butter on top… Yum! Your loaf looks so beautiful!

  • Liz

    Oh, this looks delectable!!! My family would love this! Gorgeous photos, too. And a big congrats on the Top 9!

  • kita

    Well deserved top 9 – your photographs are beautiful and rustic. I love them.

  • Madi @ Sit Down and Eat Your Peas!

    Thanks for the comment! I’m sure you could tell from the post, but if there’s bacon-I’m SOLD! Yet again, your post makes me wanna bake for the entire weekend! I did some scones and pumpkin butter last night. YumMay!

  • Steve

    Timely post, I guess the cooler weather was calling all bakers to return to the kitchen and create with yeast. On the 27th I also baked a loaf of Cinnamon Swirl Bread. Well captured loaf of delicious looking bread! Keep up the great work!

  • Christine

    Congrats on Foodbuzz top 9!

  • Maggie @MaggieCooks

    It looks soooooo good! I Can’t wait for winter to come so I can make all kind of bread to warm the house and the first one im going to make is cinnamon bread!
    I have so many recipes for cinnamon bread that I want to try! Including this one since I am a big raisin fan!

    Thank you for the recipe! :) Love your pictures.

  • sarah

    Gorgeous bread and lovely lovely photos. I liked what you said about bread baking transporting you- I feel the same and I am so looking forward to spending a rainy weekend making this!

  • Snippets of Thyme

    Those baking tips were really good. But, the bread loaf looks incredible. I like the composition on the table. I, too, think about how bread baking was just one more task to the daily ritual of chores. Today, we think of it as such a luxurious and unique task.

  • Yudith @ Blissfully Delicious

    Wow! I was just thinking about making a homemade raisin bread this morning!!! Yours looks amazing, I may have to try it this weekend.

  • Brian @ A Thought For Food

    That’s just how I’d eat this. With a dab of butter.

  • Kim Bee

    As usual you paint the most amazing picture for us. I love your posts, your writing is beautiful. And your pictures are incredible. This bread looks so inviting, I know I’d be pulling a piece off before it cooled. Congrats on top 9. So very well deserved.

  • Lacy

    definitely my fav sweet breakfast bread and yours looks a million times better than any i’ve had before. delicious! i absolutely have to give this a shot.

  • sippitysup

    Toast me up a slice with butter and all I want to do is stay home from school and hang out with my mommy! GREG

  • Amy at Gastronome Tart

    You have done it again Russell!Pictures look amazing and it sounds like a great recipe. I have yet to make cinnamon swirl bread, although I love baking bread. This will be on my list.

  • Beth Michelle

    Ugh, I hate you for posting this!!! We are trying to cut back on carbs and now all I want to do is make this. There is nothing like fresh baked bread. Especially when that fresh baked bread is THIS! Looks amazing.

  • marla

    Such pretty writing & the bread looks amazing! Comforting for fall :)

  • Elina (Russian Bites)

    Wow, gorgeous!!! I love that you paired the sweeter bread with some savory eggs. Looks like the perfect brunch :)

  • Ali

    what more can i say… simply delicious. I’ve never made bread this good looking. love the photos.

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  • Faith

    MMmmmmmm this looks AMAZING!!! With the weather cooling here I just may have to try this.

  • Ellie | Gourmand Recipes

    This swirl bread looks amazing. Love your styling and photographs!

  • Laura

    Russell, thanks for visiting my blog.

    I am happy to be here, this bread look amazing and your blog is very well done. I love your pictures too, great colors and styling.

  • Helene

    What a fabulous bread. So satisfying to bake bread and the kitchen must smell so good.

  • Cinnamon Pecan Raisin Swirl Bread « Them Yums

    […] Pecan Raisin Swirl Bread (original recipe from Chasing Delicious) Rating: 5/5 Difficulty: Easy (but time consuming) Makes: 1 loaf Time: 1 […]

  • olga

    Hello. Your bread looks delicious! I have one question: When adding the ingredients to the sponge mixture to make the dough, do you dissolve the remaining yeast first or do you throw it in dry? I’m dying to make this!

  • trap

    Its wonderful blog really very nice site and blog facility.every title is very nice and very fatastic concept. Thanks for sharing the information.

  • Belgisch hardsteen keukenblad

    Attractive info. Thanks, I am really impressed with the quality of what you have provided in your article.

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