Sourdough Cinnamon-Raisin Swirl Bread
My childhood favorite cinnamon-raisin bread gets a sourdough makeover and it might just be better than the original.
If there ever was a recipe that I wanted to convert to sourdough it’s this one, hands down. As a kid I loved the grocery store sliced cinnamon-raisin loaf that came in a red bag (from Sunmaid), toasted then slathered with butter or with a thick slice of sharp cheddar, believe it or not. Even as a child I had always favored savory flavors over sweet but on the occasion that I craved both this was the combination that always satisfied.
Over the five years that I’ve maintained a sourdough starter and experimented with various recipes this cinnamon-raisin loaf has topped my to-make list but I’ve hesitated to tackle it.
Dare I admit that I’ve turned into a bit of a sourdough snob? While I have no aversion to using commercial yeast for most other recipes, when it comes to sourdough I prefer for the starter to do the leavening all on its own. Most recipes around use a combination of both so I thought it might be difficult to accomplish what I wanted.
Also, I didn’t want it to be enriched with eggs even though they lend a lighter, fluffier texture. And because of this stubborn attitude about sourdough I kept it on the back burner for years because I was afraid of failure.
Finally, last week, with the easing pressure from the real estate transaction I described in my previous post and after a last-minute getaway to Mexico, I was happy to discover that my enthusiasm for baking had returned and all I could think of was to finally attempt the ten-year-old me’s holy grail bread and make it something the present-day me would enjoy.
In the end, creating my own sourdough version of cinnamon-raisin bread turned out not to be the challenge that I feared it would be. Rather than reinventing the wheel or adapting another recipe that contained a combination of starter and commercial yeast, I turned to one of my own, my sourdough sandwich bread, as a guide. With some minor adjustments I ended up with the pleasant cinnamon-raisin flavor I loved as a child but with the texture and crumb of a rustic loaf that I enjoy as an adult. Oh, why did I wait so long?
Why I Love this Sourdough Cinnamon-Raisin Swirl Bread
- This recipe uses a sourdough starter that was fed 24 hours prior to being used so you don’t absolutely need yours freshly fed and have to wait until it reaches peak rise. With a healthy starter your dough will rise just fine.
- Unlike my other sourdough recipes this one bakes in the same day you start it provided that your kitchen temperature is warm enough. On the day I baked this loaf my kitchen was at 75-77ºF most of the day so bulk fermentation took only a few hours. (See my notes in the printable recipe for cooler temperatures.)
- There are no eggs in this recipe. There’s nothing wrong with using eggs but it was my personal preference to omit them here for simplicity’s sake.
- No stand mixer required. The simple ingredients and process eliminate the need to mix the ingredients using a stand mixer. Apart from the stretch-and-fold session and shaping most of the time is inactive time.
In this recipe you will see that I mix the raisins in the dough rather than layering them with the cinnamon-sugar mixture. When you do the latter the dough has difficulty binding along the swirl, making the bread difficult to manage after baking and slicing.
Sourdough Cinnamon-Raisin Swirl Bread
My childhood favorite cinnamon-raisin bread gets a sourdough makeover.
- 120 grams raisins (2/3 – 3/4 cup) soaked in warm water for 30 minutes then drained
- 230 grams sourdough starter (fed within the last 24 hours)
- 430 grams all-purpose flour
- 35 grams maple syrup (2 tablespoons)
- 4 grams kosher salt
- 245 grams water (lukewarm)
- 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon (See Note)
- 1/3 cup granulated sugar (See Note)
- neutral oil for coating bowl
Mix and Autolyse
In a large bowl combine all the ingredients–starter, flour, water, soaked and drained raisins, salt and maple syrup. Use a dough whisk, spatula or your hands to combine the ingredients. Turn it out on a lightly-floured surface and knead or use a bench scraper to smooth the dough as much as possible using a kneading motion (using your hands) or by scooping the dough from the bottom and folding it over itself (using a bench scraper). Lightly coat in oil the surface of the bowl you used to mix the ingredients and return the dough to the bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and let sit for one hour (autolyse)
Stretch and Fold
After the one hour autolyse, wet one of your hands (helps to prevent sticking), take one piece of the dough, stretch until the point of resistance then fold it over itself. Repeat this three to four times. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap again and wait 30 minutes for the next stretch and fold. Stretch and fold three times every thirty minutes over the course of one hour and a half. With each stretch and fold you will notice gluten development in the dough.
After the stretch and fold session allow the dough to continue to proof until it's ready for shaping. In a warmer kitchen (about 75ºF when I baked this loaf) the remaining proof time after stretch and fold will be roughly one to two hours (with a healthy, robust starter). One way to check for readiness is the finger-dent test. Dip your finger in flour and poke the dough. If the dough is slow to spring back or doesn't spring back completely, it's ready for shaping. [A cooler kitchen (in the mid-60s to low 70s) will require a little longer proof time. If you start this process in early evening and you have a cool kitchen you can leave your dough overnight. You can also store it in the refrigerator overnight to slow the fermentation and continue with shaping the following morning.]
Shaping and Final Proof
After bulk fermentation carefully turn the dough out on a lightly-floured surface. As you coax the dough out of the bowl the top surface will become the bottom once it's turned out on the work surface. You'll want to de-gas the dough a little and stretch it to a rectangle shape but rather than using a rolling pin take two edges of the dough and gently pull them apart without tearing the gluten strands. Pull taking two edges at a time until you have roughly a rectangle shape or large square. Sprinkle the cinnamon-sugar mixture over the entire top surface of the dough. Next, fold the wide part of the dough in thirds by taking one side and folding it two thirds of the way over then taking the other side and folding it over the already-folded side. Then roll the dough starting with one of the ends until you have a log. Pinch the seams. Spray a loaf pan with cooking spray or rub with oil and transfer the rolled dough seam side down. Cover with plastic wrap and allow to proof for one more hour. You should see a visible rise to the dough during this time.
Preheat your oven to 425ºF. Make one slash along the length of the dough, off the side a little) then put it in the oven. Bake for 10 minutes then reduce the temperature to 400ºF. Bake for another 30-40 minutes or until the loaf is golden brown or the loaf registers 180ºF in the center. Transfer to a wire rack and cool then enjoy as is or toasted.
Bulk Fermentation Time: Your fermentation time will depend on your kitchen temperature. The shorter proof time for this recipe (compared to my other sourdough recipes) was due to the unusually warm temperature in my kitchen on this day, about 75ºF.
Cinnamon-Sugar: I use Penzey’s cinnamon which tends to have bolder flavor than other brands. If you have a cinnamon-sugar ratio that you like use that. I also didn’t use all the mixture for my bread but feel free to use it all for a stronger cinnamon flavor. Using just half this mixture will yield a milder cinnamon flavor.