Every once in a while I get a craving for cinnamon raisin bread. It's an old childhood favorite. I loved to eat it toasted, dripping with butter, lightly dusted with more cinnamon and coarse sugar. In a response to a bit of nostalgia, yesterday I set some dried Thompson raisins to soak in a mixture of water and dark rum. As I grabbed the raisins I noticed some dried Rainer cherries, so on a whim I soaked them in a mixture of Jack Daniels and water. Whiskey cherries are yet another story from childhood visits to Pittsburgh but we'll save that one for another day. As the fruit soaked I made some cinnamon whole wheat dough and finished it with soft butter. When Alex noticed what I was doing he whipped out some leftover smoked butter and I used it in a second batch of dough. The results are pictured above, a delicately smoky and sweet cinnamon raisin bread. The cinnamon and Ranier cherry bread wasn't half bad either. Just follow the recipe below substituting ranier cherries and whiskey for the raisins and rum. If you don't have smoked butter or aren't partial to smoke, sweet butter is an admirable stand in for the smoked.
Smoked Cinnamon Raisin Bread
3 cups AP flour
3 cups whole wheat flour
1 package yeast
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 tablespoon sea salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 1/2 cups water
2 ounces smoked butter, sliced, room temperature
1/2 cup raisins, soaked in dark rum and water to cover
Combine flours, yeast, sugar, salt and cinnamon stirring well to blend in the bowl of a standing mixer. With the mixer going on the slowest speed and the paddle attached, slowly pour in the water. When the dough comes together in a rough mass, switch to the dough hook. Add a couple of tablespoons of water if it seems too dry. Once the dough comes together in a cohesive mass, increase the speed by one and add the butter a slice at a time. Wait until each slice is fully incorporated before adding the next one. Once the dough has absorbed all of the butter, continue to knead the dough for 3 minutes until it is looks smooth and silky. Take the dough from the mixer and finish by hand, kneading it a few times to form a springy ball. Put the dough into a lightly buttered bowl, roll it once to coat the ball with butter, cover and set aside to rise. The first rising should take 1-2 hours depending in the temperature in your kitchen. Once the dough has doubled, gently deflate it and turn it over. Let the dough rise once more, it should take about half the time of the first rising.
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
Lightly butter three 8x4'' loaf pans. The easiest way to do this is to melt a couple of tablespoons of butter and brush it inside the pans with pastry brush. Divide the dough into thirds. Keep the dough that you are not working with covered so it does not dry out. You can use plastic wrap or simply invert your bowl over the extra dough. Roll the dough out into a rectangle 8" wide and approximately 1/2" thick. Drain your raisins in a colander saving any excess liquid to use in another recipe. You can use the flavored water the next time you make bread. Sprinkle 1/3 of the raisins over the rectangle. Roll the dough up into an 8" log and place it into the prepared pan. Spray or brush it lightly with water and cover loosely with plastic wrap. Do the same with the remaining two pieces of dough. Set aside for a final rising, approximately 30 minutes. The dough will look slightly puffy like a roasted marshmallow when it's ready to bake. Brush or spray the loaves lightly with water before placing in the oven. Bake for fifteen minutes and rotate the loaves. Bake for fifteen minutes more and check for doneness. If you have a convection oven, rotate the loaves after 12 minutes and check them after another twelve. The loaf should be a deep golden brown and sound hollow when tapped. Let cool for at least an hour before cutting the loaves.