I’ve never really been big bread baker, in part because I don’t really eat a lot of bread. But, for whatever reason I was struck with an inclination to make bread this week. I started out with the recipe for Cinnamon Swirl Bread in The Best Recipe. In my view, however, cinnamon bread is never complete without raisins, so I decided to add some (I used golden raisins because that’s what I had). Then I thought I might add some cardamom to the cinnamon mixture, since cardamom is one of my all time favorite flavors. At that point it was a short leap to adding the remaining spices to make it Chai mix. My friend and fellow blogger Beth then suggested that I could actually infuse tea into to the dough. At that point it was settled I was making raisin chai bread. The results are unusual. When I was making the bread I didn’t really think I could taste the tea in the dough, but it definitely came through in the finished products. The spices are a little more subtle, but are very much present. Overall I think it’s a very good bread, and would be great toasted with jam. Even better, I may use it to make some French toast this weekend. I think this bread would also be ideal going into a bread pudding, but I won’t make a bread pudding unless I have something to do with it other than eat the entirety myself.
A few notes on this recipe. I had to use all of the flour allowed to make my dough get to the right consistency. I also found the second rise took at least an hour over what the book said it would. Since it’s winter here, I let my bread rise in a slightly warmed oven.
Raisin Chai Bread
Makes one 9 x5 loaf
Bread Dough½ cup milk
Filling¼ cup sugar
Egg Wash1 large egg
1. In a small saucepan over medium high heat, bring the milk to a boil. Remove from heat and add the tea bag and butter. Let the tea steep and the butter melt. Remove the teabag once the mixture has come back down to about 110 degrees.
2. Put the water in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Sprinkle the yeast over the water. Beat in the sugar and eggs at low speed. Add milk mixture, salt, 2 cups of flour, and raisins and mix at medium speed until thoroughly mixed, about 1 minute.
3. Switch to the dough hook attachment. Add an additional 1 ¼ cups flour and kneed at medium-low speed, adding flour sparingly if dough sticks to the side of the bowl (I found I had to add a few tablespoons here). Continue kneeding until dough is smooth and comes away from the sides of the bowl, about 10 minutes.
4. Turn dough out onto work surface. Grab the dough with a clean, dry, hand. If the dough sticks to your hand, kneed in up to an additional ½ cup of flour (I had to add about a ¼ cup). Transfer dough to a large, lightly greased plastic bowl. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and set in a warm place to rise. Let rise until doubled, 2 to 2 ½ hours.
5. Lightly grease a 9x5x3 loaf pan. Mix the spices and sugar. When the dough has risen, punch it down once. Then turn the dough out onto your unfloured work surface (I recommend flouring just a little). Let the dough rest for 10 minutes.
6. Press the dough into a 6 x 8 inch rectangle, with the short side facing you. Roll the dough into an 8 x 18-inch rectangle. Brush the dough with milk. Sprinkle the spice mixture evenly over the dough, leaving a 1 ½ inch border on the far side.
7. Starting with the edge closest to you, roll up the dough, pinching gently to make sure it is tightly sealed. Use hands to push the sides of the loaf in as you go, to make sure it stays within the 9 inches. When you reach the end, pinch the dough ends together to form a secure seam. Firmly pinch dough at either end to seal sides.
8. Place loaf, seam side down, into the prepared pan. Press lightly to flatten. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rise until dough is one inch above the top of the pan, about 1 ½ hours (this took closer to 2 ½ hours for me).
9. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Whisk together the eggs and milk for the egg wash. Brush the top of the loaf thoroughly with egg wash. Bake until loaf is golden brown, about 30-35 minutes.