Outside everything is blanketed in white. The tree branches are weighted with snow and a tiny red breasted bird looks for berries. Typical of old New England homes, a slight draft infiltrates the picture window.
While the tea kettle heats up on the stove, I rifle through our library of beautifully worn classic books. I love well-worn books, their decorative quality, yellowed pages and time worn bindings. Finally, I choose Self Reliance by Ralph Waldo Emerson. As I sit down to enjoy my tea and the view, I crave something warm and toasty.
My spouse is the bread baker in our home and he excels at his craft. In keeping with the weather he makes freshly baked cinnamon raisin bread with candied pecans. In no time at all the sugary aroma fills the house.
We cut ourselves thick, sticky slices of the bread, wrap ourselves in blankets and settle in by the fire. Winter has arrived.
We read in silence, together.
Warm and Toasty Cinnamon Raisin Bread with Candied Pecans
(adapted from Chef Bo Friberg)
Melted unsalted butter
22 g. fresh compressed yeast
1 cup warm milk (110 degrees)
8 g. salt
3 oz. honey
340 g. bread flour
30 g. unsalted butter, room temperature
110 g. raisins
80 g. chopped candied pecans
Cinnamon sugar mixture
Brush the inside of a bread pan with melted butter. Coat the inside with a mixture of cinnamon and sugar. Tap out the excess.
Dissolve the yeast in warm milk. Stir in the salt and the honey. Reserve a few ounces of the bread flour, then add the remainder. Mix in the soft butter.
Knead using the dough hook, for 8-10 minutes to make a smooth, soft dough. Adjust the consistency by adding the reserved bread flour if necessary. Do not over knead the dough or it will be difficult to add the raisins and pecans later. Place the dough in a warm place and let rise until double in size, about 1 hour.
Turn the dough out onto your countertop but do not punch down. Incorporate raisins and candied pecans by hand. Let the dough rest, covered for 10 minutes.
Divide the dough into 2 equal pieces. Roll each piece in cinnamon and sugar mixture and twist together. Place in bread pan and allow to rise until just under doubled in volume.
Bake at 375 degrees (190 Celsius) for about 40 minutes. Unmold and cool on wracks.
Note: Do not let the dough cool below 75 degrees (24 degrees Celsius) or it won't rise properly.
To store: Slice bread, wrap each slice in food grade paper followed by plastic wrap. Place in a freezer bag and freeze for up to one month. Slices can be defrosted in the refrigerator or microwave.
Bon Appetit and Happy Winter!