Whole Wheat Cinnamon-Raisin Bread

This is the raisin bread I’ve been searching for all my life.  This is so exquisite, so soft, so lovely, and incredibly healthy as well.  It’s not just whole wheat, it’s also got lots of grains in it as well, making it one of those super breads.  Once you taste this, you’ll never want anything else.

In this recipe, I’m putting in all the grains, but you don’t have to put any if you don’t want.  You can just leave it as a lovely whole wheat with raisins and stuff.  But I find the grains really add something.  They add toothiness, texture, and nutrition.  So do what you want, but I prefer it with the grains.  Don’t get me wrong though… before I started adding grains I just used the whole wheat and it was still tremendous.  I’m not going to go out of my way to teach you how to make bread in these instructions.  I’m leaving the tutorial to the video.  Here I’ll just give you the ingredients and the basic directions.

Ingredients:

The ingredients are going to be separated out into the different sections you’ll be using them in.  If you don’t understand something, then watch the video and I explain everything.

Soaker:
170 g. Whole wheat flour
3 g. table salt
170 g. milk, buttermilk, soy or rice milk.
210 g. raisins, or other dried fruit.

Biga:
170 g. Whole wheat flour
1 g. instant yeast
85 g. milk, buttermilk, soy or rice milk.
56 g. melted butter or vegetable oil
1 large egg, slightly beaten

Final Dough:
Soaker
Biga
56 g. Whole wheat flour
5 g. table salt
7 g. instant yeast
2 T. Honey or brown sugar
4 g. cinnamon
3/4 c. chopped walnuts
1-1.5 c. mixed grains.  See note for details.

Method:
1. The day before you want to make your bread, make the soaker and the biga (pronounced “beega”).  Store the soaker on the table, and the biga in the fridge to retard the yeast.  Let them sit for at least 12hrs, but 24 is better.  They can even be stored for up to 3 days, but put them both in the fridge if you’re going over 24hrs.
2. The day of the bread, combine the soaker and the biga with the rest of the ingredients.  Cut the soaker and biga up into small chunks and put them in the mixing bowl cause it makes them easier to mix together.  See video if you don’t understand what I mean.
3. Mix with a dough hook and once everything is more or less combined, add your grains if you’re putting them in.
4. Knead the dough in the machine for about 5mins. And at the very end, add the walnuts.
5. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead for about 5mins, using the stretch and pull method.  See video.
6.  Once the dough is ready, roll it into a ball and let rest on your board with a little flour on the bottom, or in a greased bowl.  Cover with  plastic that you’ve lightly sprayed with cooking spray and rise at room temp until it’s about 1.5-2x the size.  Don’t go by time here.  Go by size.  It’ll probably take about 1-1.5hrs, but I’ve had it take longer and shorter.  Check it after 30mins and go from there.
7. Once it’s ready, lightly flatten it out and roll it to a decent size rectangle.  See video for approximate dimensions.
8. Sprinkle with a cinnamon/sugar mix.  Use as much or little as you like, it’s your bread.  The more you use, the more the bread will fall apart when you slice it, but it’s nothing but a sophisticated cinnamon roll at that point.  I’m sure you’ll survive somehow though.  When you’ve got the sugar you like, roll it back up and pinch off the ends.
9. I like to rest mine on a peel, but you can put it in a loaf pan at this point.  This is your final shape, so do whatever you’re going to do.  I love the free form rolled loaf and cooking it on a stone so it really develops the crust, and caramelizes the bottom a little.  It’s beautiful.
10. Set your oven to 400 F and let it heat up while the last rise is going on.  Let it rise same as before, until it’s 1.5-2x the size.  Watch the loaf, not the time.  This is important… don’t rise it too fast.  Rise it at room temp.  If you rise too fast, the yeast could take off uncontrollably and you could max it out and then it’ll collapse in the oven.
11. Once it’s risen, spray the top with water, not necessary, but I like to do it.  And put in oven and turn the oven down to 325 immediately.  It’ll work well if you keep a small dish of water in the bottom of the oven for steam too.  I also like to spray my oven with water a few times for the steam.
12. Bake for 20 mins, then turn the loaf 180 degrees and finish baking for 25-40mins.  Mine takes the full 40.  The bread should be 200F when it’s done.  It’ll also be nice and dark brown, but not burned.
13.  IMPORTANT: Cool it on a rack immediately and don’t touch it for 1hr.  Let it rest and solidify.  Trust me, it’ll still be good and warm then.

 

Note on grains:

You can use any grains and seeds you like.  I use whole oats, whole farro, quinua, flax (whole and ground), and teff.  For the larger grains, you’ll need to cook them for 10mins before adding them to the mix cause they need to be softened.  If you’re going to use something much smaller like cracked bulgar, you can add it to the soaker, which is why it’s there to begin with, so soak smaller grains.  You can also just throw the bulgar in with your cooking grains and you’ll be fine.  Don’t go over 1-1.5c of grains for this.  It’ll get to be too much and your bread will start to have a hard time staying together.  I explain a lot of this in the video.  But you can use pretty much anything you like.  If you’ve got a grain that you prefer that I didn’t list, then go for it.  Freekeh is a great addition as well, and so is cooked brown rice.

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