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03/28/2014

~ Bread Machine Basics and Cinnamon-Raisin Bread (Lose that store-bought swirl and give this a whirl!!!) ~

IMG_8079I 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.  

IMG_7984Regularly 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!

IMG_5526< This is a 1-pound loaf of my brioche!

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!

IMG_7894For a 1-pound loaf:

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)

IMG_7976* 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!

IMG_7899 6a0120a8551282970b0133f466ce08970bStep 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.

IMG_7904~ Step 2.  As directed, cut the butter into pieces.  Pictured here is 6 tablespoons of cubed butter (enough for a 2-pound loaf).  

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.

IMG_7916~ Step 3.  In a 1-cup measuring container, heat milk until steaming. This is quickly done in the microwave oven.  

IMG_7930Add the butter cubes, vanilla, cinnamon-sugar and salt.  Using a fork, stir until butter is melted.  If milk is steaming and butter is soft, this will only take a IMG_7933minute.

Add the mixture to the bread pan.

IMG_7948~ Step 4.  In the same measuring container, using the fork, whisk the eggs and add them to the pan.

When making bread in a bread machine, always add the wet ingredients first!

IMG_7971~ Step 5.  Add the flour to the bread pan, spooning it right on top of the wet ingredients.  Do not mix or stir!

IMG_7958Using your index finger, make a small well in the top of the flour (but not so deep that it reaches the wet layer).  Add the yeast to the well.

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:

IMG_8027~ 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".

IMG_8040Note:  Depending upon the make and model of your bread machine, and the size of the loaf you are making, the entire baking process will take about 2 1/2-3 hours.  

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.

IMG_8100~ 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...

IMG_8257... cinnamon-raisin toast never tasted so good!

IMG_8273Bread Machine Basics & Cinnamon-Raisin Bread:  Recipe yields 1, 1-pound loaf, or 1, 2-pound loaf of cinnamon raisin bread.

Special Equipment List:  bread machine; paring knife; 1-cup measuring container; fork; pot holders or oven mitts; cooling rack

IMG_5539Cook'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)

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