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Thursday, December 9, 2010

Reinhart's Transitional Cinnamon Raisin Bread

Transitional Cinnamon Raisin Bread

I am not quite sure why I tend to lag my way through Reinhart's book.  My best guess is that when it comes time to try the next recipe on the list, in the order that they are presented, the recipe is hard up against a rather thick part of my skull, and I have much to learn in order to make it -- or, as in this case, I had much to learn in order to even want to make it.

I had pretty much decided that I'm going to make whole grain breads, and leave these half-way whole grain breads behind.  I had even reached the point where I said to myself, "Why does Reinhart even bother with these loaves with all-purpose flour?"  I mean, I was seriously becoming a purist here, if by purist we mean someone who insists, with evangelical fervor, that their way is right, and all other ways are wrong.  The Religion of Whole Grain, and me the only member of that church.

Yeah, it's lonely standing on that street corner, trying to save everyone.  No one else would, or could, eat my bread.  So the last several bakes, I have been using some all purpose flour in amongst my whole grain breads, in varying amounts.  And some of the people who have partaken of these 'transitional' loaves have indeed liked them.

And so you have the concept of a 'transitional' loaf: if someone isn't used to eating whole grain breads, you want to ease them into it gently.  Don't keep trying to feed them loaves that sit like a stone in the gut; don't keep trying to bake dense, all but indigestible fiber-filled breads that don't have much taste.  Bake something that tastes good, that they will want to eat, but that will also have some of the whole grain in it -- be it 50, 60, 80 percent or whatever (this loaf is 42% all purpose, or 58% whole wheat).  If it is too much like bread that they don't know, they will not turn to it, they will not understand it, they will not appreciate it.  Better to have a little bit of good stuff in there, than too much, or none at all.

Of course, it is this sort of compromise thinking that gives us the government regs behind naming whole wheat loaves: there is such confusion in the marketplace now.  People simply do not know what a whole grain bread is anymore.  They think that transitional loaves are whole grain breads.  Well, they are, and they aren't.  They have some whole grain in there, but they are not wholly whole grain.

I woke at 0430 this morning for no good reason, and just began making this loaf.  So the soaker only got 12 hours, and the biga only 10 hours in the fridge.  The final dough was made around dinner time tonight, and it performed admirably.

Mixing the Soaker
Soaker ingredients
This has to be worked some to get all the ingredients moist

That sure seems like a lot of raisins.

Mixing the Biga

My chickens lay bigger eggs

Biga ingredients: here is the recipe's AP Flour

The biga gets mixed 2 min.

The biga sits 5 min.

It is kneaded 1 min.

And then into the fridge for 8 hours minimum

Reinhart's biga called for 47g of egg, slightly beaten, and the chicken egg I used, an organic egg from our own hens, was 56g, and I did not toss any away.  The white flour and the yellow yolk sure made this a yellow dough (the digital camera didn't pick this up).

The elastic properties of this all purpose dough are one of the reasons why so many people like making bread with this stuff.

Mixing the Cinnamon Sugar

I used the volume measurement for this, and got slightly less weight than what Reinhart gives in the recipe, and that made me happy: last time I made one of his cinnamon loaves, there was far, far too much sugar.  This is only 41g of sugar and 5 g of cinnamon.

This will get sprinkled onto the rolled out dough later in the build process.

Mixing the Final Dough

I laid out most of the ingredients the day before, when I was making the Soaker and Biga.  That meant it was all ready to go once the biga and soaker were ready.  A real time saver.

The final dough ingredients, minus the biga and soaker

Mis en place
This won't be mixed by spoon: you require your hands or a mixer

Once again, I rolled each of the pieces of the biga and soaker in some additional flour, as the recipe says.  I'm not sure why I didn't do this for the first few recipes I made (I was rolling it in some of the measured flour), but it really does make a difference.  The recipes seem to come together even better.

The Kneading times
 At this point, the dough is mixed but not kneaded
 After 4 minutes of kneading, it must rest

After 5 minutes rest.  That 5 minute rest seems to make all the difference!

 Another 1 minute of kneading, and the dough is ready for the bulk fermentation

 Ready for the bulk fermentation

 This was supposed to swell to 1 1/2 x the original size in 1 hour, but it just dries out

The biga, when you work it into the final dough, really makes this bread quite kneadable.  I didn't see much rise after the initial bulk fermentation.

Rolling out the Dough
 I used the rolling pin to roll this dough out evenly -- and I went a bit thinner than Reinhart suggests
 Cinnamon sugar on it, and it rolls up nicely.

I didn't see much rise even after rolling it up (I made this into a panned loaf).

But the later oven spring was substantial.

Into the pan and into the oven

 Ready for the final fermentation
 One and a half hours later.  No expansion noted: it just looks a little drier
 Score just goes through the top layer of roll


 I included the optional corn syrup
 My glaze is always so much wetter than the one in Reinhart's picture

I tried to make a half amount of the glaze, as I find Reinhart's loaves too sweet for my taste.  But the glaze wasn't the right consistency, so I ended up making the whole amount.  And I poured the complete glaze over it, even though I know it's going to be too sweet, because I didn't know what else I'd ever do with it.


 A nice oven spring, this loaf rises nicely

 It cools 5 minutes before the glaze is added

I had no great hopes for this loaf, but it held together well after baking.  And despite all the sugar poured over top of it, I am pretty sure that it will get eaten.

It might even be sweet enough for those who don't like raisins.

 She doesn't like raisins

Over half of this loaf was fed to the chickens, because it was too gooey inside, too under-baked.

Notes to Myself
  • Bake the occasional transitional loaf.  It's okay, you aren't breaking any laws.  You won't grow horns.
  • This is a fairly easy bread to make, and as I've proved here, it can be made in a single day.
  • This is one of those loaves that you might make for special occasions. 
  • This loaf is a little bit 'clinchy' (a word we use in our household for when bread is too doughy, possibly under-baked; I don't think it is a German word, it is probably just a made-up colloquialism).  It is difficult to tell though, because the raisins themselves are a bit clinchy.  This slice would probably be fine if it were toasted.  Next time: bake another 10 minutes (I baked a total of 45 minutes: 5 minutes at 450 degrees F, 20 at 350 degrees F, then I turned the pan and baked at 350 degrees F. -- and it wasn't quite enough, obviously. 
  • Next time bake for another 10 full minutes.


  1. Well written and photographed!
    when you let your dough rise the first and second time was the bowl/ pan covered with plastic wrap to keep it from drying? If not it would form a crust and keep the bread from expanding (imo).

  2. No, it was covered with a dish towel, for both the bulk fermentation and the proofing. This was a very strange loaf, way too dry on the outside and far too wet on the inside.