Cinnamon-Raisin Swirl Bread

Photo: Mike Krautter
2 loaves

This bread owes its soft and fluffy texture to each of its three rises. Martha made this recipe on Martha Bakes episode 606.


For the dough

  • ½ cup raisins

  • ½ cup orange juice

  • ¼ cup warm water (110 degrees)

  • 1 ½ teaspoons active dry yeast

  • 1 ½ teaspoons plus 1 tablespoon sugar

  • 3 1/4 to 3 1/2 cups bread flour, plus more for work surface

  • 1 ½ teaspoons coarse salt

  • 1 cup warm milk (110 degrees)

  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten

  • 4 tablespoons (½ stick) unsalted butter, room temperature, plus more for bowls, pans, and brushing

  • Nonstick cooking spray

For the filling

  • 1 cup packed dark-brown sugar

  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature

  • 4 teaspoons ground cinnamon


  1. Prepare the dough: Combine raisins and orange juice in a small bowl. Cover and refrigerate overnight. Drain raisins and place on a paper towel-lined plate to absorb excess moisture. Alternatively, combine raisins and orange juice in a small bowl and microwave for 20 seconds; let stand at room temperature for 15 minutes.

  2. Place cup warm water in a small bowl. Sprinkle over yeast and 1 1/2 teaspoons sugar and whisk to combine. Let stand until creamy, about 5 minutes

  3. Whisk together 3 1/4 cups flour, salt, and remaining tablespoon sugar in the bowl of a standing mixer. Attach dough hook, and mix on low speed, adding yeast mixture, milk, and egg. Increase to medium speed and mix until dough comes together, scraping down sides of bowl as necessary. If dough does not come together, add more flour, 1 tablespoon at a time and up to 1/4 cup.

  4. Continue kneading for 10 minutes. Add butter and mix until incorporated and dough is smooth, 5 to 8 minutes. (Dough may come apart before coming back together.) Add reserved raisins and knead to combine.

  5. Meanwhile, butter a large bowl. Turn dough onto a lightly floured work surface and shape into a ball. Transfer dough to the prepared bowl, turning to coat. Cover lightly with plastic wrap sprayed with cooking spray and let stand in a warm place until doubled in bulk, 45 to 60 minutes.

  6. Place dough, topside down, on lightly floured work surface to deflate. Shape dough into a ball and return to the buttered bowl. Cover lightly with plastic wrap sprayed with cooking spray, and let stand in a warm place until doubled in bulk, 45 to 60 minutes.

  7. Butter two 4 1/2-inch-by 8 1/2-inch loaf pans. Prepare the filling: Combine brown sugar, butter, and cinnamon in a medium bowl and stir to form a smooth paste. Cover with plastic wrap and set aside.

  8. Place dough, top side down, on lightly floured work surface to deflate. Pat dough into a 7-inch square using your palms and fingertips. Fold bottom edge two-thirds of the way up, and fold again so that the top edge meets the bottom edge as you would a business letter. Cut the dough in half crosswise with a bench scraper.

  9. On a lightly floured surface, roll half of the dough out into a 7-inch-by-13-inch rectangle. Spread dough evenly with half of the filling using an offset spatula. Roll dough to form a tight log and pinch to seal. Use a sharp knife to cut the dough in half lengthwise. Place one piece of dough, cut side up, on top of the other to form an "X." Working from the "X", twist dough together, pinching ends and tucking under dough to form a loaf. Transfer dough, cut side-up, to prepared pan. Repeat process with the remaining dough and filling. Alternatively, the loaves may be shaped by rolling to form a tight log before pinching ends, and tucking under.

  10. Cover each loaf with plastic wrap sprayed with cooking spray. Let stand in a warm place until dough has risen 1 to 2 inches above edge of pan and an indentation forms when gently pressed with a fingertip, 45 to 60 minutes.

  11. Preheat oven to 425 degrees (or 400 degrees for a convection oven) with rack set in the center.

  12. Remove plastic wrap and transfer pans to oven and bake for 15 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 375 degrees (or 350 degrees for a convection oven) and continue to bake until deep golden-brown and they reach 190 degrees on an instant-read thermometer when inserted into the center of a loaf, about 20 minutes more. If browning too quickly, tent lightly with foil.

  13. Transfer to a wire rack to cool slightly; turn out loaf. Brush top with melted butter and let cool almost completely before slicing.

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