Cinnamon Raisin Bread: Devil in a Loaf Pan


It was only as I was licking cinnamon sugar off a plate after rapidly devouring three slices of bread that I managed to put a finger on the word I was looking for to describe the cinnamon raisin walnut loaf I had just made.


And this is coming from someone who has generally preferred savory or plain loaves to sweet cinnamon-raisin breads.

Peter Reinhart’s recipe for cinnamon-raisin bread? It’s trouble.

Preparing for week number nine of the Bread Baker’s Apprentice challenge, where 200 amateurs are baking their way through Peter Reinhart’s bread-making bible, I had imagined having no problem exercising restraint around the cinnamon-raisin bread I was about to make.

While I get weak-kneed in the presence of breads filled with meats and cheeses, sweet loaves are not really my thing. I like meat or preserves with my sliced bread. Give me an already sweet bread and those combinations just don’t do it for me.

Nonetheless, I’d committed to the challenge and cinnamon raisin walnut bread was on the schedule.

First, you stir together cinnamon, flour, sugar, salt and yeast …


… then you mix in an egg, shortening, whole milk and water …


… and then you mix and knead the dough.

Or, in my case, you just flip the switch on your KitchenAid mixer and then catch up on reading about Jon and Kate minus eight — a bisexual mistress with an arrest record! A steamy trip to St. Tropez! Will this never end? (I hope not. Oh, Us Weekly, how I love thee.)

But, I digress.

Toward the end of kneading/reading, you mix in raisins and chopped walnuts. Then, once the dough is tacky but not sticky, you take the ball of dough and place it in an oiled bowl and let it sit for a few hours.


As fermentation happens, it more than doubles in size.


Then you flour up the counter and divide the dough into two equal pieces and roll each one out into a little rectangle.


You cover each rectangle with a thick layer of cinnamon sugar …


… and you roll it up like a cigar.

Thankfully, my cinnamon-raisin-walnut log didn’t look as lewd as the log I created when I made cinnamon buns last week.

(The lewd-log picture prompted my friend Melissa, a former home reporter for the Cleveland Plain Dealer who has a new blog named Domestic Putterings, to note: “There’s a Viagra/dough rising joke in there somewhere.”)


In any case … once the logs are tightly sealed at their edges, you place them in a lightly oiled loaf pan and let them sit at room temperature for at least an hour more.


Again, they really expand as fermentation occurs.


Then you pop them into the oven and 40 or so minutes later, there they are — cinnamony perfection.

I brushed the tops with melted butter and sprinkled cinnamon sugar all over them. Then, I just sat back and just took in the smell — my apartment smelled amazing for an hour.

I wanted to strip down and bathe in it.


Even after the bread had emerged unburned and relatively decent looking, I remained a little nervo

Peter Reinhart’s book had featured a lovely picture of perfect swirls on each slice — would mine have the same markings? (I know, the fashion writer in me continues to cling to the importance of aesthetics.)

I almost teared up when I sliced open my loaf and there they were …


Those three slices? They lasted all of three minutes on my plate.

That same night, I snuck in another slice. And the next day, in the name of “photographing the bread,” another half a loaf disappeared.

Like I said: Trouble.


The Bread Baker’s Apprentice Challenge

Check out cinnamon raisin walnut breads from other bakers:

Frieda from Lovin’ From The Oven

Janice from Round The Table

Libby from At The Very Yeast

Paula from Bell’Alimento

Sally from Bewitching Kitchen

Susie from Susie’s Home And Hobbies

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15 thoughts on “Cinnamon Raisin Bread: Devil in a Loaf Pan

  1. Trouble is right. I made mine the same way, with the swirl and the cinnamon sugar garnish. I love how the raisins plump up and get so soft and moist inside the bread. Sooo good.

  2. Tina, dried cranberries will taste just as good, I know it. Try it!
    Haley…I can’t wait to see your pictures/post! Plump is right. They are so moist and soft, even now. (Yes, I just ate another slice …)

  3. looks beyond delicious!
    hey your friend wendy said you took the picture of that racoon in varvatos’ store in soho! I have it on my blog! haha he’s such a cute little guy!
    lovely blog!

  4. Hey Jillian — thanks for your note! He was a cute little guy — fitting that he chose to perch atop the sunglasses display.
    The Daily News reported the next day that animal control had to euthanize it because it was sick. Poor thing — but I’m now really glad it didn’t leap out and bite me when I was taking its picture!

  5. You are a genius, Cheryl. My hero. Your posts make me want to cry. (we dont get much cinnamon raisin bread in these parts…)

  6. Will I electrocute myself if I lick the computer screen? These are the most gorgeous photos and this bread looks *divine*. I also prefer savory breads/food but this bread could convert me!

  7. I saw your comment on my friend Ellise’s “Cowgirl Chef” blog and it drove me to yours – I love your blog! The photography is gorgeous (the lighting, especially nice!) and the writing is snappy and fun – nice job! Am inspired to make this cinnamon raisin bread tonight! I’ll be back…. thanks!

  8. Aww…thanks, guys! Mei-Ling, YOU are the genius. (Folks, if you haven’t bought Mei-Ling’s new book “Lucky Girl” yet, check it out:
    And check out Kakki’s fun-to-read and informative Working Moms blog on
    Liz–welcome to the blog! Thanks for your kind words…Ellise’s blog is fantastic, too. If you try making this bread, let me know how it turns out!

  9. I still have to make this bread. Love all the pictures. It looks really yummy. Sweet loaves are not usually my thing but this one looks incredibly delicious.

  10. I thought my family would be on sweet bread overload, but they devoured this loaf. I have made it twice since then. Good thing they are young and thin and empty the cupboards while I am at work. I’ve been reading your BBA challenges and really enjoying your posts.

  11. I skipped the cinnamon sugar for this one. I also get nervous when cutting into swirl breads… I’m 50-50 with getting well-defined swirls like yours.

  12. Cinnamon does this kind of stuff to people… :-)
    Thanks for including my bread in your links -
    The problem with the “challenge” is that I never get to repeat any of the breads, but once this is all finished, I’ll go back to my favorites. My husband really loved this loaf…

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