Now that the festivities of Christmas are over, New Year's resolutions have begun, and the Christmas feasts are but a memory, (except for the reminder clinging to our hips), it's time to return to healthy eating. Or at least, normal eating. Some may go cold turkey on all foods that aren't celery, carrageenan-free almond milk, or sugar-free almond butter, but I prefer to go to all the warm, comforting foods. Yes to breads, yes to soups, yes to cookies, yes to stir frys. I'm all for trying new diets, not because I'm looking for a radical health-overthrow, but because I enjoy the challenge. (And then the "forbidden" foods taste oh so marvelous after the fact.) But I've also learned my lesson from Whole30January: This is not the time to try a restricting diet. January can be long, cold, and sometimes a bit of a letdown after the holidays. Add in the extra stress of not being able to eat just about anything you might fancy, and January just stretched into an eternity. I'd rather get into the swing of normal routine and work before depriving my mind of body of certain foods. Of course, this is just me. And mostly the me that's still reeling from Whole30. Find what works for you, without using that as an excuse to not give it your all.
Speaking of that bread earlier, how about a nice piece of Cinnamon Raisin Swirl toast??
Recipe adapted from The Kitchn
Cinnamon Raisin Swirl Bread
Makes 2 9-inch loaves
1 cup / 150g raisins
1 cup / 237g hot water
1 Tbsp / 10g active dry or instant yeast
1 cup / 237g milk
4 Tbsp / 56g melted butter or oil
2 tsp / 9g salt
5 1/2 - 6 cups / 660 - 720g all-purpose flour
1/2 cup / 100g sugar
1 1/2 Tbsp / 12g cinnamon
2 tsp / 9g water
Oven 375°F / 190°C. 2 greased loaf pans, approximately 9 x 5in / 23 x 13cm.
Place raisins in a small bowl with the hot water and let plump for at least 10 minutes.
Drain water from raisins into the bowl of a stand mixer or large bowl. Set raisins aside. Sprinkle yeast over the water. If you're using active dry, let the yeast sit for a few minutes until it starts to foam; if you're using instant, proceed to the next step.
Add milk, butter, and salt to yeast mixture and stir well. Add 5 cups / 600g of flour, mixing to incorporate.
Switch to the dough hook or knead by hand on a lightly floured surface for 8 - 10 minutes, adding more flour as necessary. At the end, test to see if your dough is ready by performing the window pane test (see notes.) If not, continue to knead dough until it passes.
Toss raisins with a bit of flour to absorb any residual water. Add to your dough, and knead until evenly distributed. If using a stand mixer, you may find this easier to do by hand.
Place the dough in a large oiled bowl, cover, and place in a warm place to rise until doubled in size, about 1 hour.
Meanwhile, combine the sugar with the cinnamon in a small bowl.
Beat the egg with the 2 tsp water in another small bowl.
When the dough has risen, punch it down and divide into two equal pieces. Starting with one half, roll dough into a rectangle about 9in / 23cm wide and at least 18in / 46cm long.
Brush the dough evenly with some of the egg wash, leaving one narrow end dry; sprinkle with half of the cinnamon sugar mixture. Starting from the opposite short end, roll dough up and pinch the seam to seal.
Transfer to the loaf pan, placing seam side down. Repeat with other half of dough.
Cover and let rise until doubled in size, about 30-45 minutes.
Bake in preheated oven for 30-40 minutes or until golden brown and internal temperature reads 185 - 190°F / 85-88°C.
Let bread cool 10 minutes before removing from pans and allowing to cool completely.
If the dough shrinks back on you as you're rolling it out, let it rest for a few minutes and try again.
If you have leftover egg wash and cinnamon sugar, you can brush the top of the loaves with the egg wash and sprinkle with cinnamon sugar before baking.
I used sourdough starter to make the loaves in the pictures. I didn't leave enough time for rising, and thus you can see you the crumb is rather tight and dense. Delicious nonetheless, but know that if you use instant yeast your loaves should be taller!
Loaves can be frozen for later enjoyment.
If you really dig raisins, add more than 1 cup! Just be aware, though, if you start to add too many (I would imagine more than 2 cups) then they could start to weigh down your dough, not allowing for a full rise.