It's noticeably colder here, now. Although honestly it's been too warm for November. The trees in Central Park are still clinging to their leaves, determined until the first real frost forces them to let go. And in the morning, the air actually seems crisp, even fresh, (even frigid?) which is something of an anachronism in a big city. The end of November always sneaks up, pretending at first to fall in line with October. But in the end, it's always a lie and suddenly winter has slipped in through the back door. I don't think I'm ever ready for winter. In Colorado, at least, winter means skiing and you don't even have to go without sunshine. New York always seems to forget that it's a pedestrian city in the winter, and plows build up snowdrifts on the sidewalks so large that they could support armies of barracked down snow-ball fighters. Ugh.
But then, there's the benefit of turning on the oven for hours without driving up the temperature of the apartment to unbearable heights. Which is always nice for bread making. Unlike the last experiment in cinnamon-raisin, this isn't a swirl. The cinnamon is baked right into the bread, which is dotted with raisins and walnuts. It comes from Peter Reinhart's The Bread Baker's Apprentice and although good, I think I prefer Dorrie's recipe to be perfectly honest. But I'm never one to pass up a slice of warm cinnamon-raisin slathered with peanut butter, especially on a blistery day.
Cinnamon Raisin Walnut Bread
Makes 2 loaves, slightly adapted from Peter Reinhart
3 1/2 cups unbleached bread flour
4 teaspoons granulated sugar
1 1/4 teaspoons salt
1 1/4 teaspoons ground cinnamon
2 teaspoons active dry yeast (bloomed in 1/4 cup warm water)
1 large egg, beaten slightly
2 tablespoons shortening at room temperature
1/2 cup whole milk, at room temperature
1/2 cup water at room temperature
1 1/2 cups raisins
1 cup chopped walnuts
Stir the dry ingredients together in the bowl of an electric mixer. Add the wet ingredients and stir on low speed with the paddle attachment until the ingredients form a ball.
Switch to the dough hook and mix on medium speed for 6-8 minutes. Add more flour if necessary so that the dough forms a nice ball, tacky, but not sticky. In the last two minutes of mixing, add in the raisins and walnuts. The dough should pass the windowpane test (which means that when you stretch it, it thins enough to become translucent to light as though you were looking through a windowpane).
Oil a large bowl and place the dough in it. Roll the dough so that it's coated with oil. Ferment at room temperature for 2 hours. The dough should double in size.
Divide the dough into 2 even (or in my case, slightly uneven) pieces and form them into loaves. To do this, spread the dough out into a flattened rectangle about 5x8 inches. Starting from a short side, roll the dough up and pinch the seam together. Place each piece of dough in an oiled 8 1/2 x 4 1/2 " loaf pan, seam side down. Lightly mist the bread with more oil. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and proof for 90 minutes until the loaves are about doubled in size.
In an oven preheated to 350, with the rack positioned in the middle, place the loaf pans on a baking sheet. The pans should not touch. Bake for 20 minutes, then rotate the pans and bake for about another 20 minutes. Remove the bread from the pans and cool on a cooling rack. Enjoy!
* * *