Gluten-Free Cinnamon-Raisin Bread
Why This Recipe Works
Cinnamon-raisin bread is always appealing (at least in theory), but it often falls flat. It is either dry, with a scant amount of filling, or overly sweet and gooey—more like cinnamon buns than bread. We wanted to develop a fluffy, sweet loaf with a soft crumb, plenty of raisins, and a generous cinnamon swirl. That said, we didn’t want something so sticky that slices couldn’t go into the toaster without setting off the smoke alarm. Using our sandwich bread as the base for this recipe, we started by adding an extra tablespoon of sugar, which made the bread plenty sweet. We discovered that the raisins were best added to the finished dough (so they didn’t get blown apart during the kneading process). We then switched our focus to the cinnamon filling. Most traditional recipes mix together brown or granulated sugar, cinnamon, and salt and simply spread this mixture over the dough and roll it up tight. But every time we tried this method, our loaves were marred by gaping holes. After way too many failures, we realized that the layer of cinnamon sugar was too thin and ran out during baking. Switching to confectioners’ sugar and increasing the amount of cinnamon produced a filling that stayed in place. When powdery confectioners’ sugar absorbed water from the dough, it formed a sticky paste. This paste was then thickened by the cornstarch in the sugar and by the cinnamon. Unfortunately the confectioners’ sugar did not completely melt. We needed more moisture than could be supplied by the dough. Lightly spraying the filling with water once it was in place guaranteed that the powdery sugar became a paste, with no dry bits. Our loaf was close to perfect, but to guarantee that our filling could be tasted with every bite, we divided the dough in half, spread the filling over each piece, then stacked the two pieces in a loaf pan. We finally had the bread we were wanting—slightly sweet and evenly streaked with cinnamon sugar, and with no holes.