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Cinnamon Raisin Swirl Challah

Two Christmases ago, I gave my mother a copy of Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day [1] by Jeff Hertzberg and Zoe Francois [2].  I’ve written about this marvelous bread baking book before.  It is truly one of my favorites and one of the most used in my cookbook collection.  My mom has never been much into baking, except during the Holidays.  She loves freshly baked bread, but doesn’t have the patience to make her own from scratch.  I just knew that having Zoe and Jeff’s book [3] would make her a bread-baking convert.  And it did.

The other day, Mom told me that she had a yen for raisin bread and was planning to make some using one of the recipes from the book.  All of the commercial raisin breads have cinnamon in them and she can’t eat cinnamon, so she wanted to make a loaf that she could enjoy without getting sick.  Well, as soon as I hung up the phone, all I could think about was eating hot, fresh from the oven raisin bread!  I tried to distract myself with other things, but I couldn’t.  It was ridiculous!  I was absolutely obsessing over that damn raisin bread!

Eventually, I could stand it no more.  I dug out my copy of the book and started making some dough.  I decided to go with the challah recipe.  It’s buttery, eggy and rich, but in a very, very good way.

Making the dough for this bread is easy with a capital “E”.  You know…because you don’t have to knead it or anything.  All you do is mix your ingredients together and let the whole thing sit while you do other stuff, like tweet, play Guitar Hero [4] or clean your house.  (Guess which one of those I didn’t do.)  Once your dough is ready, just roll it out and fill it with whatever you like.  I used a mixture of brown sugar and cinnamon, and added golden raisins.  Then, you roll it up, slap on a little egg wash and let it rest some more.

Okay, I’ll admit it doesn’t look very appetizing lying there like a lump with raw egg dripping all over it.

But, after you bake it…

Just look at that soft, pillowy crumb!  And, check out those dreamy swirls!  Pepperidge Farm [5] – you’ve got nothing on this!