Apparently, I’ve been hooked on rolling up my recipes. But, don’t you think doing our bakes in this fashion is quite a sight? In this particular case, I’ve chosen a soft loaf filled with raisins and cinnamon, which I can assure you, will turn your breakfast and teatime into sheer delight. This is mostly because I’m completely determined to resume this post-holiday daily routine by indulging myself, and making the most of every moment whenever I can.
And speaking of indulgence and being hooked on things, I realized that it has been a while since I last told you about one of those books which, for whatever reason, has stuck with me over time. This time I’m referring to Me Before You, by the British author Jojo Moyes. I have read other titles by this same writer, like The Girl You Left Behind (very enthralling too), although the former, perhaps because it was the first one, left an indelible imprint on my memory. So if anyone gives in to his or her curiosity and makes up his or her mind to open this book’s pages, I eagerly recommend that you open a tissue box as well.
Even so, I wouldn’t like to create a misleading impression here, that this is the typical uncalled-for drama, whose only aim is just to bring tears from our eyes just for the sake of it. Actually, you will also find quite a few rather amusing situations, a captivating exposition of the story and, above all, many ideas to mull over as the reader.
The theme is certainly delicate, as well as historically, a controversial one. So, I would like to warn anyone who may embark on following Lou and Will’s ups and downs (or I should say personal demons), that you need to face this book with a certain peace of mind. It would be impossible to remain indifferent, whatever the final feeling may be.
Although, on a very different level, the same happens here after tasting this delightfully tender raisin swirl bread, to say the least. So, will you? Be sure to let me know…
- 2 ¼ teaspoons (7 g) active dry yeast
- 1 cup (240 ml) lukewarm milk
- ¼ cup plus 1 teaspoon (55 g) sugar
- 4 tablespoons / ½ stick (55 g) unsalted butter, diced
- 1 egg (L)
- ¾ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg (optional)
- 3¾ - 4 cups (490-520 g) all-purpose flour
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon (Ceylon cinnamon, if possible)
- 2 teaspoons unsweetened cocoa powder* (optional)
- ½ cup (75 g) raisins or sultanas
- 2 tablespoons (30 g) unsalted butter, softened
- 1 egg (M)
- 1 tablespoon water
- Dissolve one teaspoon of sugar in ¼ cup (60 ml) of the lukewarm milk (about 110°F / 45ºC).
- Sprinkle with the yeast, let sit for 3 minutes and stir.
- Meanwhile, in the bowl of our electric mixer, fitted with the paddle attachment, mix the remaining milk (180 ml / ¾ cup), remaining sugar (¼ cup / 50 g) and butter together on low speed for 1-2 minutes.
- Add salt, nutmeg (if using it) and egg and mix for 1 more minute.
- Next, add sweetened milk and yeast mixture and, still on low speed, mix for another minute. The mixture won’t look uniform at this stage at all, but rather the opposite.
- Change to the dough hook and add, initially, 2 ¾ cups (360 g) of the flour. Mix on low speed until flour is fully moistened and almost incorporated. The dough will be very soft and sticky by now.
- Add another cup (130 g) of the flour and mix, now at medium speed, for a couple of minutes.
- If the dough still sticks to the bowl, add up to ¼ cup (30 g) of the remaining flour, one tablespoon at a time, until it cleans the sides of the bowl.
- Keep mixing at medium speed and knead for 3 more minutes until the dough becomes more elastic and smooth. It will be still too soft to knead by hand.
- Place the dough in a large oiled bowl and cover tightly with plastic wrap. Let it rise in a warm, draft-free place for about 1-1½ hours or until doubled in size.
- Once our dough has risen, transfer the dough to a work surface and push it down with your knuckles a few times to release all the gases and air. Do not knead nor fold it.
- Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and place it in the freezer for 30 minutes so that it is firm enough to be rolled after that. (If you prefer to eat your bread freshly baked in the morning, you can put it in the fridge overnight and continue the next day instead.
- Start by moistening the raisins; place them in a heatproof bowl and cover with boiling water. Let them sit for 5-10 minutes until plump and moistened. After that, drain and set aside on some paper towels to dry.
- Meanwhile, grease a 9 x 5 x 3-inch (23x13x7.5 cm)** loaf pan and set aside.
- In a medium bowl, whisk sugar, cinnamon and cocoa together until totally combined. Set aside as well.
- Transfer dough to a slightly floured work surface, dust some flour over the top of the dough and roll it with a rolling pin (floured too) into a rectangle about 8 x 18-inches (20 x 45 cm).
- Gently butter the top surface completely (you can use a pastry brush or even your fingers).
- Finally, dust the buttered dough with the sugar, cocoa and cinnamon mixture evenly all over the surface, except for ½-inch (1 cm) on one of the shorter ends. Scatter over the raisins.
- Starting with the shorter end that we left filling-free, roll up the dough snugly. Do not press too hard or it could misshape.
- Carefully place the resulting log in the greased pan, seam side down, and tuck the ends to make it fit perfectly.
- Cover with a clean kitchen towel and let it rise again, in the same way we did previously, for 45 minutes until the dough reaches slightly above the edge of the pan.
- Just before the dough is fully risen, preheat oven (electric) to 375º F / 190ºC and place oven rack in the center position.
- Beat the egg with one tablespoon of water and gently brush the top of the loaf. Be careful not to prick our just risen dough or it could deflate.
- Place the pan on a baking sheet and bake for 20 minutes.
- After this, cover loosely with a foil tent and continue baking it for 25 minutes more until golden brown and sounds hollow when tapping the bottom of the pan.
- Remove from oven and let it cool in the pan for 5 minutes on a cooling rack.
- Unmold and let cool completely on the cooling rack before slicing and serving.
Wrapped in plastic wrap, our bread will keep at room temperature for about 3 days, although it is at its best if consumed within the same day.
- **Try to keep to the pan dimensions indicated in the recipe as much as you can, otherwise your loaf could overflow or come out flat.
- This bread is a real delight when sliced and toasted. Buttered and/or spread with a generous layer of your favourite jam makes it even better.
- It will keep in the freezer for up to 2 months. Remember, it must be completely cold and wrapped in plastic wrap and foil.
Recipe adaptated from Baking, form my home to yours by Dorie Greenspan