~ Bread Machine Basics and Cinnamon-Raisin Bread (Lose that store-bought swirl and give this a whirl!!!) ~
I love a simple piece of toast and a glass of iced tea in the morning. I adore eggs too, but on super-busy days, toast and tea is just fine with me. Favorite toasts include egg bagels, English muffins, brioche and cinnamon-raisin bread. I've always had a knack for bread baking, and, I can't remember ever having any bad experiences. While I can make bagels and English muffins from scratch, I rarely do, and, when it comes to brioche and cinnamon-raisin bread, I've adapted my recipes to the bread machine. Yes, even I (who possesses the skill and desire) no longer have the time to devote the better part of one day each week to baking bread for my family.
Regularly not baking bread bothered me enough to buy a bread machine about 5 years ago. On principle alone, I hoped I would hate this appliance. My wish almost came true. The first recipes I tried (from the instruction manual), while adequate, were, not up to my standards. After a period of a few months, I took the machine back out the box, gave it a permanent spot in my kitchen (where I had to maintain eye contact with it) and began adapting my own bread recipes to the machine. Nowadays, I make a loaf of brioche and a loaf of cinnamon-raisin bread every week. We are back to enjoying home-baked bread almost always:
< This is a 2-pound loaf of my cinnamon-raisin bread!
Bread machine bread is rectangular or square in shape. No matter what size loaf you elect (most machines give you three options: 1-pound, 1 1/2-pound, or 2-pound loaves), they all get baked in the shape of the pan that came with the machine. What is wrong with that? Technically: Nothing. Visually: Even though it rises and browns beautifully (thanks to the many options the bread machine offers), it "plainly" is not going to win any "bread beauty contests". This is a give-and-take you'll forget the moment you taste the bread!
1/2 cup whole milk
3 tablespoons salted butter, cut into pieces, preferably at room temperature
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract, not imitation
2 tablespoons + 1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon-sugar
3/4 teaspoon sea salt
1 extra-large egg, preferably at room temperature
2 cups + 2 tablespoons unbleached, all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon granulated dry yeast, NOT rapid-rise (1/2 packet)
1/4-1/2 cup raisins* (dark, golden, or, a combination of both)
For a 2-pound loaf:
1 cup whole milk
6 tablespoons salted butter, cut into pieces, preferably at room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract, not imitation
5 tablespoons cinnamon-sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons sea salt
2 extra-large eggs, preferably at room temperature, lightly beaten
4 1/4 cups unbleached, all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons granulated dry yeast, NOT rapid-rise (1 packet)
1/2 cup raisins* (dark, golden, or, a combination of both)
* Note about raisins: My bread machine has an "add-in basket" on the top which automatically adds dried fruits and/or nuts to breads at the proper time during the baking cycle. It has a maximum capacity of 1/2 cup. This means, if you like a lot of raisins in your cinnamon-raisin bread, make the 1-pound loaf!
~ Step 1. This is the rectangular-shaped bread pan that came with my machine. The paddle (which will do the kneading) has been inserted. The instruction manual said to always start with the paddle in this position before adding any ingredients, so I do.
Note of importance:
In all of the following step-by-step "process photographs", I'll be using the quantity listed for a 2-pound loaf of cinnamon raisin bread.
Add the mixture to the bread pan.
When making bread in a bread machine, always add the wet ingredients first!
Note: It is important to keep the dry yeast away from the wet ingredients until it is time for the machine to knead them together because the liquid will prematurely activate the yeast.
Follow your instructions to operate your machine, these are mine:
~ Step 6. Insert the bread pan into the bread machine and press down until it is securely "clicked" into place. Close the lid and plug the machine in. Press "select" and choose "white bread". Press the "loaf size" button to select "2-pound loaf" (or "1-pound loaf" if that's what you're making). Press the "crust control" button and select "light crust" (or "dark" if you prefer). Press the "extras" button and add the raisins to the basket located on the top of the machine. Press "start".
Walk away. Do not lift the lid to check in on the process. The moment the timer signals, the bread is done.
I broke this rule for this photo, but you needed to see the lovely rise.
~ Step 7. Open the lid. Using a pair of pot holders, remove the bread pan from the machine, using the handle to lift it out. Turn the bread pan to a 30-45 degree angle and gently slide the loaf out onto its side. Turn the loaf upright and place it on a rack to cool completely. If the paddle remains (stuck) in the loaf, which does happen occasionally, I find it best to cool the loaf completely before slicing and removing the paddle.
No matter how you slice it -- thick or thin...
Special Equipment List: bread machine; paring knife; 1-cup measuring container; fork; pot holders or oven mitts; cooling rack
Cook's Note: My recipe for ~ Bread Machine Basics & My Brioche Recipe ~, a sweetened yeast bread enriched with milk, butter and eggs, can be found in Categories 2, 15, 18 & 20. Just click on the Related Article links below for a few of my favorite ways to eat it!
"We are all in this food world together." ~ Melanie Preschutti
(Recipe, Commentary and Photos courtesy of Melanie's Kitchen/Copyright 2014)