I was trying to figure out earlier why I've been in a better mood lately. I feel like I'm getting my blogging mojo back. I've been baking all sorts of great stuff, and actually want to write about it! I finally decided that the reason is that it's summer vacation. Sure, I still have to work, but life is definitely less stressful. My kids are in one place (well, across the parking lot from each other) rather than two, so there's less travel time. If I'm going into work later, I don't have to get us all up early anyway so we can get Brianna to school on time. Which means it's less critical to get the girls to bed early, since they can sleep in some. And then we can have breakfast together without having to rush out the door...
Which brings me to this week's Tuesdays with Dorie recipe. Susan of Food.Baby picked Raisin Swirl bread for us to make this week. She says in her post that she picked the recipe because baking bread is comforting. I have to agree with that. I know yeast is scary for some people, but the more I bake bread, the more I love it. One nice thing about this sort of enriched bread is that it's pretty easy to make, since you don't have to do a lot of advanced planning (unlike with breads that have preferments).
I made the recipe more or less as written, but I did tweak a few things. First off, I used instant yeast rather than active dry, since that's what I keep on hand. I adjusted the quantity to 1 1/2 teaspoons, but still mixed it with the warm milk to give it a bit of a head start, since I knew it would have to work harder in a dough with fat and sugar. The only flavoring I included was the vanilla. Rather than put the raisins in the swirl, I kneaded them into the dough before the first rise so they would be distributed throughout the dough. For the swirl, I left out the cocoa (I don't like chocolate and cinnamon together) and skipped the butter that was to be spread over the dough before adding the cinnamon sugar. I did the latter because I was afraid that the butter would prevent the dough from sticking together well, causing it to unravel when cut. I ended up baking my loaf for 55 minutes, at which point it registered about 195F on my instant-read thermometer.
The verdict? This raisin bread is pretty good, though I have to admit that it's not my favorite. That honor still belongs to the BBA raisin bread. I can't quite put my finger on what wasn't quite as good with this bread, but I think part of it is that it was a bit dry. And the long bake time resulted in a tough crust. In retrospect, I think I should have brushed the crust with melted butter when it came out of the oven, to soften it somewhat. That said, the bread makes very good toast for breakfast, which is my favorite way to eat raisin bread anyway. And hey, it's still homemade bread, and that's always a good thing. =) Most of the loaf got sliced and stashed in the freezer, and Gillian is happily helping me finish it off. Brianna, of course, wanted nothing to do with it, since she doesn't like raisins baked into things. (I'm working on some non-raisin cinnamon swirl bread for her.)
If you'd like to give this one a try for yourself, you can find the recipe on Susan's blog. And to see how everyone else did with this week's recipe, head over to the Leave Your Links page!