Cinnamon Swirl Bread….Being Martha

I know it is still summer, but I am trying to convince myself otherwise.  Maybe a pumpkin spice candle burning and some bread in the oven would make me forget that it isn’t 90 degrees outside?  Just maybe for a little while.  I settled on making the Cinnamon Raisin Bread.  Each time I bake, I thumb through the Mart Stewart Baking Handbook for over 30 minutes trying to select just the right thing OR what I can make without having to go to the store for more ingredients!  This recipe is on Page 301 of the book.  I was not able to find the exact recipe on line so I have provided a copy of the entire recipe at the end of this post.

Like all yeasted bread, this starts with some yeast and warm milk.  The cool thing is that you don’t have to wait for the reaction; you just throw all the ingredients in and mix it up.  I found that I didn’t need to mix for the full 6 minutes and actually removed the dough at about five minutes to turn out onto my floured surface.

All the Ingredients…In One Bowl & Mix

 What is cinnamon raisin bread without the cinnamon and raisins???  Just add on top and kneed throughout the bread…it is pretty cool to see how the cinnamon spreads out through the bread.  After this, it’s rising time!  Rise and knead twice.

TIP:  Use a wide bottomed bowl for rising.  It allows the dough to form a perfect disc the size requested in the recipe and makes it easy to work with.

Mix In Cinnamon & Raisins

 Prepare the cinnamon sugar filling and set aside….

Cinnamon Raisin Bread Filling

 Divide the dough…another one of my new tools that I am loving.  It simply and easily divided the dough right up into half.

Cool Tool….Dividing the Dough

 Take the first section of dough and roll it into a 10 x 12 rectangle.  You will notice that I used a ruler and at the top of my mat I used the pan for size reference.  It does not have to be perfect, but is really helpful for me to make sure it is the right size and will eventually fit into the pan when it rolls up.  First, glaze the dough with egg wash and then spread half of the cinnamon sugar filling.

Preparing the Bread for the Oven

 To prepare for the pan, fold the long sides in about 1″.  Then, start rolling the dough.

TIP:  Roll the dough towards you and press firmly so that it rolls tight.  At the end, roll the dough back and forth to seal it closed.

I tried this per the instructions and found it to be a great tip.  I will use it again.  Time to rise one more time and then back into the oven.

Rising One Last Time

Here they are right out of the oven.  The instructions say to place the loaf pans on parchment paper on a baking sheet.  Now, that is a great tip that I almost did NOT follow.  Good thing I did.

TIP:  My oven cooks the outside of things quicker even though the temperature is perfectly calibrated.  So, I often reduce the temperature by 25 degrees and tent the top of breads with foil.

Tenting with foil is easy to do…just pull out a sheet about 2 times the top of your pan, fold it in the center to create a little peak and then lightly place on the item baking.  If you do this before you start baking, you can attach firmly to the sides of the pan.  But, if you did it after you started, you can just gently place on top.  When you do that, you end up with an evenly cooked top and insides like below.

Right out of the Oven

Let cool completely and wait to eat!  Here is the first two slices of bread…and, yes, I tried them.  They tasted amazing!  This is a great recipe; the instructions are fantastic and it is a good way to start working with yeasted breads.  And, the result was beautiful.  Try It!  The recipe follows….straight from the Martha Stewart Baking Handbook.

Beautiful Swirls



For the dough:

  • 1 envelope (1/4 ounce) active dry yeast
  • 2 cups warm milk (about 110 degrees F)
  • 2 pounds, 2 ounces (about 6 ½ cups) all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
  • 1 stick (½ cup) unsalted butter, room temperature, cut into pieces, plus more for pans
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 2 large eggs, plus 1 large egg, lightly beaten
  • 2 ½ teaspoons coarse salt
  • 1 cup raisins
  • 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
  • Vegetable oil, for bowl and plastic wrap

For the filling:

  • 1 ½ cups sugar
  • 2 tablespoons ground cinnamon


  1. Make the dough: In the bowl of an electric mixer, sprinkle the yeast over the warm milk.  Whisk to combine.  Add the flour, butter, sugar, 2 eggs, and salt.  Attach the bowl to mixer fitted with the dough hook.  Mix on low speed until all the ingredients are well combined, about 3 minutes.  Raise the speed to medium-low, and continue to mix until the dough is uniformly smooth and pulls away from the sides of the bowl, about 3 minutes more.
  2. Turn dough onto a lightly floured work surface.  Pat out dough into a 9-inch round, about 1 ¼ inches thick.  Sprinkle with raisins and cinnamon, and knead until they are just incorporated.  Place the dough into a lightly oiled bowl, and cover with oiled plastic wrap; let rise in a warm place until doubled in bulk, about 1 hour.
  3. Return the dough to a lightly floured work surface, and pat into a round.  Fold in the following manner: Fold the bottom third of the dough up, the top third down, and the right and left sides over, tapping the dough after each fold to release excess flour, and pressing down to seal.  Return the dough to the bowl, seam side down, and let rise again until doubled in bulk, about 40 minutes.
  4. Make the filling: Combine the sugar and cinnamon with 2 tablespoons of water in a small bowl.  Return the dough to a lightly floured work surface, and divide the dough in half.  Roll out one half into a 12×10 inch rectangle.  Brush it with beaten egg, and sprinkle with half of the cinnamon-sugar filling.  Repeat with the remaining dough and filling.
  5. Generously butter two 9×5-inch loaf pans and set them aside.  With a short end of the rectangle facing you, fold in both long sides of the dough, about 1 inch.  Then roll the dough toward you, gently pressing as you go to form a tight log.  Gently roll the log back and forth to seal the seam.  Place the loaf in a prepared pan, seam side down.  Repeat with the remaining rectangle.  Cover the pans loosely with oiled plastic wrap, and let rest in a warm place until the dough rises just above the rim of the pan, about 30 minutes.  Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.
  6. Brush the tops of the loaves with beaten egg, and transfer the pans to a parchment-lined rimmed baking sheet.  Bake, rotating pans halfway through, until the loaves are golden brown, about 45 minutes.  (If the tops begin to brown too quickly, tent with foil.  I had to tent mine halfway through baking, when I rotated the pans, to prevent it from getting too brown.) Turn out the bread onto a wire rack to cool completely before slicing.  The bread can be kept, wrapped in plastic, at room temperature for up to 4 days. 

Yield: Makes two 9×5 inch loaves



Baguettes….Being Martha

You can mark another one off the list!  I decided to go bid and go for yeasted bread.  I had to add to my tools and also my pantry.  Before you venture down this road, make sure you learn what you can about making yeasted bread and follow the directions carefully.  Making bread is a science!  Yes, there is an “art” as well when it comes to shaping and presenting the bread.  But, the making of the bread is truly science.  You can find this recipe on Page 312 of Martha Stewart’s Baking Handbook.  I could  not find the exact recipe on line that is in the book, but here is one that is close.

First, let this recipe be the excuse to purchase some new tools:

- Dough Hook for Your Mixer

Bread Hook - Not Captain Hook

- Bench Scraper

Bench Scraper

- Wooden Peel

Peel w/ Corn Meal

- Baking Stone

Loaves on Baking Stone

Let this be an excuse to add to your tool chest and have a little fun.  I ended up purchasing most of my stuff at Target and Kohl’s.  I am not entirely happy with my baking stone and would eventually like to get this square one at Williams Sonoma.  I must continue my baking fun to earn that baking stone.

On to the recipe.  Make sure you have at least 24 hours planned to prepare this recipe and to deliver fresh bread.  WARNING….You must be patient and resist the temptation to speed this process up!  The first step in this yeasted bread is to mix the bread flour, yeast and water.  Make sure you use a good bread flour…King Arthur’s is recommended and can be found at most grocery stores (most likely at the bottom of the rack).

Bread Flour....King Arthur

Once you combine these simple ingredients, let them sit for 12 to 16 hours…overnight works great.  Keep it covered and in a location that is room temperature or even a little warm.  The mixture will triple in size over this period of time and deflate.  You will miss it if you are not watching it (or if you are asleep), but you should be able to see residue at the side of the bowl showing how high it rose.  See the photos below…

Starter - Night After Yeast Feast

Starter - See How it Pulled Away from Side

Now, you add the remainder of the ingredients including the additional bread flour, water and salt.  That is it!  This is when you use your dough hook to mix the ingredients for a few minutes on low and then high.  Then, you take your dough out and knead it for a minute and return it back to a lightly oiled bowl to rise again.

After Adding Flour, Salt, Water, etc.

After rising, you take out, fold your dough up a third at a time, turn over (seem side down) and return it to the bowl to rise again.  You want to make sure not to handle too much.

1/3 Fold

After several periods of rising (check the recipe for all the specifics), then you take the dough out and divide in halves or quarters depending on how many and what size loaves you want.  I chose two loaves.

Divide for Loafs

You then flatten each ball into an oval shape and fold the top third down.  You want to not apply too much pressure and cause the air bubbles that make the bread light and airy to burst or escape.  Handle Gently!

1/3 Fold from Top

Fold the bottom third up and over the top third and secure with the heel of your hand to make a tidy bundle.  You then, start to roll the dough out to the desired length and diameter.

1/3 Fold from Bottom

 Once the loaves are rolled out and your desired size, place them seem side down on your peel that is sprinkled with corn meal.  I LOVE THIS TRICK!  This keeps the dough from sticking to the peel and helps it to slide off and onto the baking stone in the oven!

Loaves Ready for Oven

 Here are the loaves on the baking stone in the oven…notice the slashes that I cut in the top of the baguettes with a knife.

Loaves on Baking Stone

Here are the loaves right out of the oven….a nice golden brown.  I could have let them cook a bit longer and get a tad bit darker, but these turned out great!

Hot Bread!

Here is the inside of the bread…oh so good!  A little cheese and italian salami made for a great lunch!


This recipe definitely took a lot of time and preparation; mainly because I read the recipe and the tips about 50 times.  And, had to make two special trips to the store for ingredients and tools.  But, it was an adventure.

I would rate the recipe difficulty as a MEDIUM and the taste as an 8 out of 10.  You can’t beat fresh bread right out of the oven.  For me, it tasted a little bit salty so I either added too much or would just cut back on the salt in the recipe next time.  It was a great test of my patience and VERY rewarding.

Today, we used the remaining loaf for lunch bruschetta….recipe coming soon!

I look forward to trying out the other yeasted bread recipes soon!  Should be fun!

Have a great week!



Cornmeal Drop Biscuits…Being Martha

This is a super simple and quick recipe to add a little homemade biscuit to your meal.  Very basic ingredients and quick and easy.

Once you have your ingredients ready to go for the biscuits, I would start the chili first as the biscuits are really easy to make and don’t take much time.  This is my chili from scratch; a really simple recipe.  If there is interest, I can post the recipe.

Combine the dry ingredients first….cornmeal, flour, baking soda, salt, etc.  Then, cut in the butter with a pastry cutter.  If you don’t have one, you can use two knives or this alternate method here.  The one key to cutting butter into dry ingredients is that the butter is chilled.  The buter does not need to be fully blended.  Small pea size chunks of butter are okay.  They make the biscuits even better once cooked.

Add in the milk to the dry ingredients and butter.  Mix until just combined.  It will be chunky because of the butter…that is OKAY!

Use two spoons to drop 1/3 cup size biscuits onto a cookie sheet.  This takes a little bit of coordination and the dough is a little sticky.  Take your time and be patient with yourself.

The biscuits dropped onto the cookie sheets look like they will fall apart.  Resist the urge to make them perfect little balls.  They will ruin the consistency of the biscuits once they good and will not allow the butter chunks to melt throughout.

Do not overcook…pull them out when you see a tinge of golden brown start to show up around the base.  The one thing that I would have done differently was to place parchment paper or a baking liner on the baking sheet.  it would have made it easier to pull the biscuits off with out scraping off the good crunchy bottom.  Here they are all done and ready to eat.

This is such a quick and easy recipe.  I think it would be really good as a topping to a baked chili dish even.  Maybe place your chili in an 8×8 glass dish, top with this cornmeal biscuit dough and cook for 20 minutes….it would be so good!!!

I would rate this an EASY recipe great for the beginner baker or even kids.

I would rate the taste a 9 out of 10.

The one thing I liked about this recipe is that the biscuits were not really dry like other cornmeal breads or muffins.  Instead, they were very moist and had a great taste.

Happy Baking!