Breadmaking Study Break

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Breadmaking, it seems, has become a lost art. I don't mean banana bread or pumpkin bread or the kind you just blend together and pour into a bowl. I mean real rising, yeasty, sweet smelling bread. The kind that has they crunchy, crackley outside, and the sweet gluten laden inside. Toasted with a pat of melted butter. My god, it's a perfect breakfast or snack!

Nowadays I just don't have the time to sit and make bread. It's time consuming, laborious, and often somewhat messy. It's an affair that I long to keep but have to stay away from, as cheating myself out of time for the necessities of life never brings anything but lamentable consequences. Still, yes, there are bread machines, but those take the fun out of it. They have their uses I admit - I enjoy coming down in the morning to freshly baked bread, but I miss the hands on experience.

Still, yesterday I found a moment, I was stuck inside all day doing homework, reading Lord Jim (Conrad has redeemed himself with this one, as I was about ready to kick over his gravestone for Heart of Darkness, still it's a long and tedious read when doing it on a schedule). I figured that as a simple study break I would take the time to make some fresh bread.

I had some leftover molasses and some raisins that needed to be used and a scant amount of whole wheat pastry flour. I laid everything out and began to make some cinnamon raisin bread. Healthy from the whole wheat, sweetened and smoothed by the molasses, it's a simple and easy to prepare bread.

It is a bit frustrating to work with as the initial dough for kneading has a tendency to get everywhere and stick to everything. Still, there is something therapeutic about squeezing, and fluffing, and pounding a defenseless ball of dough.

After kneading, I let it rise for an hour or so, wherein my entire apartment began to fill with the sweet, spicy, and yeasty aromas. These near tangible perfumes only increased in their potency once the baking began.

The best part is during a homework day in fall or winter, this is a simple way for me to prepare food and enjoy a study break. Slow food such as chili, bread, stocks, or slow braising are perfect homework food (or clean the house food or whatever will be keeping you indoors all day). By the time you finish your tasks, a homemade delight is awaiting your consumption.

Enjoy the recipe. Now I must go back to homework, as writing this post was my study break. =PCinnamon Raisin Bread
Recipe adapted from
Makes 2 loaves
  • Active time:30 min
  • Start to finish:3 hrs (includes cooling)
  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus additional for kneading
  • 2 cups whole-wheat flour
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 tablespoon of ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon of ground ginger
  • 1 (1/4-oz) package fast-acting yeast such as Fleischmann's Rapid Rise yeast
  • 1 cup warm water
  • 1/2 cup warm milk
  • 1/4 cup molasses (not robust or blackstrap)
  • 5 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 1/2 cups of raisins
  • Whisk together flours, salt, cinnamon, ginger, and yeast in a bowl. Whisk together water, milk, molasses, and butter in another bowl until combined well, then stir into flour mixture until a wet dough forms. Stir in raisins. Turn out dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead, working in just enough additional flour to prevent dough from sticking, until smooth and elastic, 7 to 10 minutes. Form dough into a ball and put in an oiled bowl, turning to coat, then let rest in bowl, uncovered, in a draft-free place at warm room temperature 10 minutes.
  • Divide dough in half and form into 2 balls. Arrange about 4 inches apart on a large baking sheet. Loosely cover with oiled plastic wrap and a kitchen towel and let rise in a draft-free place at warm room temperature until doubled, about 1 hour.
  • Preheat oven to 425°F with rack in lowest position.
  • Lightly sprinkle dough with some flour and bake until golden brown and bottoms sound hollow when tapped, 20 to 25 minutes. Transfer to a rack to cool.
Cooks’ note: Bread keeps, wrapped well, at room temperature 2 days or frozen 1 month.

Original Recipe by Gina Marie Miraglia Eriquez


  1. Looks delicious! I'll have to go out and buy some raisins. And I feel your pain - I've just about died over Heart of darkness approximately 5 times in my school career.

  2. Yum. This is a good recipe as I adjust to the fact that, sigh, summer is over.

  3. I also thought "Heart of Darkness" was one of the worst things I ever read, and it didn't help that my English teacher at the time explained the book in the most tedious and annoying way ("The story winds aroundlike the Amazon..."). Ugh.

  4. I wish bread would last much longer than 2 days on counter. Need to invent way to prolong life of fresh bread without chemicals or schlac

  5. I have bookmarked the recipe for this weekend. I love the look and ingredients of this loaf! Beautiful!

  6. I love the feel of kneading bread dough. It is so therapeutic. Your bread looks great. I've also found many wonderful bread recipes from King Arthur flour, especially ones using whole wheat or white whole wheat flour.

    I have an oatmeal raisin bread recipe I adjusted to include white whole wheat and ground flax for more whole grains. It's tasty and lasts for nearly a week (in <100 degree weather) without the use of preservatives.

  7. Your photos are mouth-watering.


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