Preface: I am not a novice bread-maker…I taught myself to make it about twenty years ago as a way to relieve stress. I do not own a bread machine…I make it the old-fashioned way (except for using quick-rise yeast).
The other day, I stayed home from the bookstore to try to get caught up on some household chores. One of my plans for the day was making some cinnamon raisin bread…I’d been craving it since seeing some at the grocery store earlier in the week. It had also been a few weeks since I made bread, the last time being Easter when I made Buttermilk Rolls (https://writerwoman61.wordpress.com/2010/04/03/no-use-crying-over-spoilt-milk/).
I went to the flour canister, which was nearly empty. I brought the big bag of flour up from its home in the basement stairwell, and refilled the canister. I measured six cups of flour into my large stainless steel mixing bowl, added the half cup of sugar, the tablespoon of yeast, the teaspoon of salt, three tablespoons of cinnamon, and a cup of raisins. I stirred everything together.
In my four-cup glass measuring cup, I put a half-cup of shortening, and 2 1/2 cups of boiling water. I stirred it around until the shortening had melted, and let it cool a few minutes.
I made a well in the middle of the dry ingredients and poured the cup of water and shortening into the flour. I stirred it until all the flour was moistened, and then added an egg and stirred some more. Then I kneaded in two more cups of flour.
After oiling the dough, I covered the bowl with plastic wrap and left it for the first rise.
I went away and worked on laundry for the next hour…when I came back, the dough had risen nicely…
I punched it down, kneaded it some more, covered it up, and left it for another hour. It was even more beautiful!
I then punched it down, greased a 9 x 14 cake pan, formed the dough into three loaves, and left it to rise again.
They were absolutely beautiful. I turned the oven on to 400 degrees, and put the pan in the oven. Five minutes later, I smelled something burning…the tops of my wonderful loaves were a lot darker brown than I intended! I shielded them with some foil, and put them back in for another ten minutes. I then reduced the heat to 350 degrees and baked them for an additional 25 minutes (this is the process I’ve used for twenty years, minus the foil shielding part – I’ve only been using this particular oven for a little over a year – I’m still getting used to its idiosyncrasies).
When I took the bread out of the oven, I took a fine grater and attempted to “sand” the dark bits off the top. That worked to a certain degree. I flipped the loaves out of the pan onto a tray to cool, and then righted them. In the process, they pulled apart a little. That’s when I realized they weren’t done.
So I put them back in the pan as best I could, and returned them to the oven for another ten minutes. When I took them out again, I realized I was beat. My once-beautiful cinnamon raisin bread was now half its original thickness…it resembled some poor rectangular brown balloon which had sprung a leak. I sliced a piece off the end and spread some butter on it…it tasted okay, but it still wasn’t done. Totally disgusted, I chucked the whole thing into the compost bin!
Someday, I will try again…I’m blaming this failure on the oven…