This appealing cinnamon raisin bread has super soft texture and is filled with the most holiday-y ingredient: cinnamon powder (with a bonus of confectioners' sugar).
The best super soft cinnamon raisin bread
Everybody might have their own definition of 'best' soft cinnamon raisin bread. For me, it is all about the right amount of sweetness and the fluffiest (plus flavorful) texture.
The fluffiest texture only comes from a good structure bread. This is somewhat hard to achieve from this American classic cinnamon bread recipe due to its super rich dough.
However, nothing is impossible for me. After many failed attempts, I finally figured out how to make this rich cinnamon raisin bread dough keep its structure throughout the baking process.
With all that in mind, here comes my best holiday theme bread recipe.
Ingredients used in this recipe
Bread flour - I only use King's Arthur bread flour in most of my baking recipes. From simple chocolate cookies to sweet honey dinner rolls. I've tried others, but only King's Arthur brand brought the best structure (and flavor as well) to my bake goods. The high protein and gluten content of this bread flour are what you need for that soft and fluffy structure I've been bragging about.
Butter - Always opt for unsalted butter since you can control the mount of salt in the recipe. Butter is where the richness of this dough coming from.
Dry milk powder - Think of it as a MSG for baking. I used milk powder instead of whole milk in this recipe to limit the the wetness of the dough. Dry milk powder helps to bring out the terrific flavor for the bread.
Sugar, egg, and salt - the combinations are normally found in any bread (or cake) recipe. Flavor, sweetness, and balancing taste are what these ingredients brought to the table. Subsequently, salt helps to slow down the activity of yeast in the dough. However, you also don't want to add too much salt into the recipe. It can retard yeast fermentation and you'll end up with a flat bread instead.
Raisin - it is more accurate if we call this recipe Sun-maid cinnamon raisin bread because I love Sun-maid and did use generous amount of this raisin in this recipe.
How to make this bread recipe from scratch
Don't let these steps discourage you from making the best cinnamon raisin bread. In fact, I make it very clear for you to follow the recipe. Should make this easy raisin bread recipe, shall we?
First, you need to mix the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients (except butter and raisin) in a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook. Then you'll let the dough rest for 10-15 minutes. This is to reinforce the dough structure before adding fat ingredient into it.
Second, gradually add soft butter into the dough on medium-low speed. Then knead the dough smoothly (it should not be stick to the sides of the bowl) before adding raisin in (approximately 3-5 minutes).
Third, first rise. Transfer the dough to a lightly greased large mixing bowl, do a few folds before let it rest and double in size. It can take sometimes between 30 minutes to an hour. It depends on the temperature of your proofing area.
Fourth, shaping the dough. After the first rise, the dough is ready to add filling and be shaped in a desired shape. I do a simple 2 strands braided.
Fifth, transfer braided dough to a lightly greased baking pan. I used a ⅓ hotel pan size, 4"deep. It fits the dough perfectly. Then let the dough go into its second rise. Let the dough rest and rise almost double in size, approximately 30 minutes to 1 hour. Ideally, the dough should only rise 1 inch above the sides of the pan.
Sixth, after the second rise, it's time to bake the bread. Gently brush the dough with egg wash. Start baking at 350F for 25 minutes, remember to rotate the pan half way through this process. Then reduce the temperature to 325F, cover the top of the bread loosely with foil or parchment paper, then bake for another 15 or 20 minutes.
Seventh, after finish baking let the bread cool down in the pan at room temperature for 5 minutes. Then carefully unmold the loaf from the pan and let it cool down completely on a wire rack or any clean flat surface before serving.
How to store homemade bread
Without preservative, it is somewhat tricky to store homemade bread to prevent it from turning stale. Luckily, due to the generous amount of butter (and dry milk powder's support), this rich bread is last longer than their sourdough cousins.
This homemade bread can be wrapped in plastic wrap and store in a cool, dry place at room temperature for up to 2 days.
Soft Cinnamon Raisin Bread - How to Make It from Scratch
- ¼ hotel pan, 4" deep
- pastry brush
- Bowl scraper
- Rolling Pin
- Fine mesh sieve
- 20 oz bread flour ~ 1lb 4oz
- 2 oz dry milk powder
- 1 tbsp yeast
- 1 oz sugar
- ½ tsp salt
- 1 large egg
- 12 oz water
- 4 oz unsalted butter cut into pieces, room temperature
- ½ c raisin prefer Sun-maid
- 1 large egg
- 1 tbsp water
- ½ c confectioner's sugar
- 1 tbsp ground cinnamon
- ¼ tsp salt
For the filling
- In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together all ingredients
For the bread
- In a mixing bowl, combine all fry ingredients. Use a stand mixer fitted with dough hook, on medium low speed, slowly add wet ingredients to dry ingredients. Scraping the sides of the bowl if necessary.
- Cover the bowl tightly with plastic wrap and let the dough rest for 10-15 minutes.
- Then on medium -low speed, gradually add soft butter into the dough. Knead the dough smoothly (it should not be stick to the sides of the bowl). Approximately 3-5 minutes.
- Reduce the speed to low and slowly add raisins, and mix until everything is incorporated.
- Transfer the dough to a lightly greased large mixing bowl. Flour your hands and do a few folds by lifting and folding edge of the dough toward the middle. Then cover the bowl, let it rest and double in size. It can take sometimes between 30 minutes to an hour. Whatever comes first.
- Press down the dough to deflate. Transfer the dough to a lightly floured surface.
- Press and roll the dough in to a rectangle. Lightly brush the surface of the rolled dough with water to help with the adhesive process.
- Use a fine mesh sieve to dust the filling mixture from top to bottom of the dough surface. If you want a nice cinnamon swirl effect, use all of the filling. If you want to cut down the sugar, only apply 1-2 layers.
- Start to roll the dough away from you into a log. Pinch the seam and place it down. Using bench scraper to cut the log in half lengthwise.
- Arrange 2 strips of dough side by side and pinch one end together. Take left strip dough and lay over the right one. Repeat the step until 2 strips of dough completely twisted. Carefully pinch the end of the dough together.
- Transfer the braided dough to lightly greased to a one-quartered hotel pan. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let the dough rest for 30 minutes to an hour, or until double in size. Whatever comes first. Ideally, the dough should only rise 1 inch above the sides of the pan.
- Pre heat oven to 350F
- When the bread is ready, lightly brush the loaf with egg wash mixture and bake until the top turns to golden brown or deep golden brown color. Approximately 25 minutes. Remember to rotate the pan half way of this process.
- Turn down the heat to 325F. Cover the top of the bread loosely with foil or parchment paper, then bake for another 15 or 20 minutes.
Cooling and serving
- After finish baking let the bread cool down in the pan at room temperature for 5 minutes. Then carefully unmold the loaf from the pan and let it cool down completely on a wire rack or any clean flat surface before serving.