Cinnamon raisin bread is a love that developed as a child and continues to this day. Although the version I had way back when, was store bought. Being able to make it at home brings a certain joy to my heart. Watching others enjoy it as well just makes my heart sing.
One of the keys to any successful recipe is the quality of ingredients. Unbleached flour, active yeast, local organic honey, and of course cinnamon. Yes, I said cinnamon.
My eyes have recently been opened. I have seen the light! The benefits of this lighter colored Ceylon Cinnamon that is. And I have Flavor of The Earth to thank for this culinary revelation. I had no idea! I mean, to me....cinnamon was cinnamon. You either bought the powder, or you bought the sticks. What was on the shelf, labeled as cinnamon...was it. Little did I know that the cinnamon we all most commonly purchase, called Cassia cinnamon is...well, lacking. On so many levels. Ceylon cinnamon, scientifically known as "true cinnamon" is ground from the bark of an evergreen in Sri Lanka. The main benefit and difference? Health benefits. Coumarin content for one. If you're an avid cinnamon consumer, it's recommended to stick with Ceylon in order to avoid liver damage (holy moly!!). Then there's the vitamins, antioxidants, blood sugar regulatory benefits. And seriously...the list goes on and on.
(Ceylon on the left. Cassia on the right)
Back to the culinary factors. The first thing you'll notice is the color. Which surprised me. In my head, I imagined it would be darker and richer. Well, it is richer. In a spicy depth sort of way. The aroma is intense (as cinnamon should be) but if you really pay attention...you'll notice less earthy (almost bark) tones and discover more rich notes of sweet citrus. Pure bliss! (I'm sitting here, repeatedly opening my jar and whiffing as I type. Just because. It's comforting and enjoyable.)
Wouldn't you love to be able to get your hands on some? I'll tell you how....for free, in a minute. Let me show you how I made my bread first.
Before you begin, mix together some cinnamon sugar:
1/4 cup sugar
1 TB Ceylon Cinnamon
Milk & Honey Cinnamon Raisin Bread
makes 1 loaf
4 cups flour
1 pk yeast (2 1/4 tsp)
1 tsp salt
1 1/4 cup warm milk (about 110' F)
2 TB honey
2 TB melted butter, plus more for brushing the top of the loaf
2 tsp barley malt syrup (optional but does help boost the yeast and add a bit of caramel color and slight sweetness)
1 TB cinnamon sugar (or more if desired)
1/2 cup raisins (or more if desired)
1 tsp raw sugar (optional)
In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, yeast and salt. Set aside.
In a medium sized bowl, combine the warm milk, honey, butter and barley malt syrup. Stir until honey and barley malt syrup have dissolved and blended with the liquids.
Tip: when measuring the honey and barley malt syrup, coat the measuring utensil with oil first. This will guarantee that nothing sticks...it slides right out.
Pour the liquid into the flour bowl and mix well. Turn out onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth.
Note: I found this dough to be a bit on the dry side and did not need to flour my counter. I wet my hands a few times and continued to knead, thus adding a bit of water at a time without messing up the dough. If you are an experienced bread maker and can tell when you added the liquid that it's too dry, add a little water at that time, maybe a tablespoon, but not too much.
Form into a ball and place the dough in a greased bowl, turning once to coat. Cover with plastic wrap and allow to rise, in a draft free corner of your kitchen.
Grease a loaf pan.
Once the dough has doubled in size (about an hour, depending on the room temp. Don't stress about it. It could be longer than an hour or it could be shorter) turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and roll the dough into an 8 x 15 rectangle. If you find that the dough bounces back and is resistant, let it rest for a few minutes and go at it again.
Sprinkle the cinnamon sugar over the rectangle and top with raisins.
Starting with the short end, roll the dough up and pinch to secure
Place the log in the prepared loaf pan, pinched seam side down. Cover with plastic wrap and allow to rise for about 45 minutes. You can tell it's done rising when you gently poke it with your finger and it leaves a slight indent. If it springs back into place right away, let it continue to rise.
Preheat the oven to 375' F
Brush the top with melted butter and sprinkle with raw sugar.
Bake for 30 - 35 minutes or until a deep golden brown
Allow to cool thoroughly before slicing.
This bread was so good! The crumb is soft, the crust is firm. Cinnamon and raisins inside. It doesn't even need butter. Or toasting.
But of course that's my favorite way to eat cinnamon raisin bread. One slice (not shown) even got an extra sprinkling of more cinnamon sugar. Heavenly!
Back to the Ceylon Cinnamon. And the giveaway! Flavor of the Earth asked me to try their Ceylon Cinnamon. They are also allowing me to .......
1 pound of Flavor of The Earth Ceylon Cinnamon!
1. Leave a comment telling me what you would make with Ceylon Cinnamon. Make sure you record your answer in the Rafflecopter widget after you leave your comment.
2. Visit Flavor of The Earth Amazon store and tell me which quality appeals to you the most. Make sure you record this answer in the Rafflecopter widget.
3. Increase your chances of winning by taking advantage of the other ways you can enter!
This giveaway is open to US residents only. This giveaway will run from Saturday February 8, 2014 through Monday February 17, 2014 (11:59 pm PT). Winner will be notified within 48 hours of the close of the contest and given 48 hours to respond before a new winner is chosen.
I was not compensated for this post, however Flavor of The Earth supplied me with a sample bottle of Ceylon Cinnamon. They are also supplying 1 pound of Ceylon Cinnamon for the giveaway. All opinions are my own.