Introduction: Raisin Bread With Heart Reveal
Who doesn't love the smell of baking bread? Have you ever bitten into a fresh loaf, warm from the oven? Have you ever been surprised by what was inside?
Make yourself the talk of the next brunch, Valentine's day, Easter, or Mother's day breakfast in bed with this delicious, delightful hidden surprise Heart Reveal Bread!
It does take a lot of time, but the majority of the time is hands-off. The Yeast does the work, while you do other things like clean the house, homework, mow the lawn, or order a pizza.
With two baking steps, optional color of your choice, and some creative bread cutting, this takes your morning toast to the next level of "made with love".
You will need:
1 or 2 bread loaf pans
Wooden spoon and a large bowl, or stand mixer
Sugar - regular white is fine, you can use brown too
Shortening or other oil
Milk - any type
Craisins or fresh cranberries
Step 1: Make & Bake Your Orange Cranberry Quick Bread
Quick breads are called that because they are quick, no waiting or rise time needed. To make the bread, you will need either a large bowl (6 cups volume or more) and strong arm muscles to mix with a spoon, or a stand mixer. You should start your oven pre-heating to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
First, mix your wet ingredients:
3/4 cup orange juice
1 whole large egg
2 tablespoons shortening (you can also use butter, coconut oil, or any cooking oil)
Second, add your dry ingredients:
1/2 cup sugar
1 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
2 cups flour
Mix all ingredients until combined and no chunks of flour remain. The dough should be thick but pourable, and very moist. Stir in about 1/2 cup dried cranberries, or 1 cup fresh cranberries.
*Optional, but recommended: add in several drops of food coloring. This is the batter which goes on the inside for the reveal. Since we are carving a heart, I added red food coloring to make it pink.
Pro tip: use WAY more than you think you need! Baking makes the color fade a little bit. You can carve any shape you like, stars, letters, etc. and color it however you want. Or leave it out!
Finally, spray the bread loaf pan with cooking oil and pour your batter into the bread loaf pan. Use a spoon or spatula to get as much as you can out of the bowl and into the pan. Bake on the bottom rack of your oven, at 350 degrees, for 50-55 minutes.
The bread should be nicely browned on top, and solid throughout, no mushy part in the center. You can check this by sticking a toothpick in the middle, and when you pull it back out it should be clear and dry.
While it is baking, go on to the next step!
Step 2: Mix Your Cinnamon Raisin Yeast Dough & First Rise
Yeast dough takes a little more time and effort, because you are using the power of yeast to make a dough that rises. This involves some chemistry where the yeast eats the sugars in the dough, and ferments it into carbon dioxide bubbles. These bubbles give the bread the nice fluffy texture we all know and love!
This is a 2-rise dough, which means there are two separate rise times where you leave it alone and let the yeast work. Plan ahead to start this in the morning, so you have plenty of time!
The time it takes to rise will also depend on several factors, like humidity, elevation, and the temperature of your house. A warmer room temperature means a faster and more robust rise in the dough. If your dough is not rising, give it more time, or more heat, like microwaving a glass of water and then leaving the bowl inside to trap the warmth and humidity.
First, either in a very large bowl or a stand mixer, you will want to "proof" the yeast. This just means to wake it up. Mix together 1-2 tablespoons of dry active yeast (the older it is, and the colder it is, the more you should use!), about 2 tbsp sugar, and 1/4 - 1/3 cup of warm water. To make the water warm, just let it run until it feels warm to your touch. You do not want it too warm or it may kill the yeast.
Let this stand for a few minutes, until you see it start to bubble and get frothy. This means the yeast is awake and ready to work!
Second, add the rest of your wet ingredients, and spices:
3/4 c warm or room temp milk (I used almond)
2 tbsp shortening, you can use butter or oil too
1/4 - 1/3 cup sugar
1-2 tsp salt
1/2 - 1 tbsp cinnamon, depending on how much you like cinnamon
Mix well until combined.
Third, add in 1/2 cup oats, and then 3 cups of flour, 1 cup at a time. Mix until no clumps of flour can be seen and the dough is a solid, slightly tacky but not wet ball. Add a splash of milk or water if it is dry and crumbly, or a sprinkle of flour if it is too wet and sticky.
Finally, add in 1/2 cup - 1 cup raisins, depending on how much you like raisins, and fold them into the batter.
Now just put a clean towel over your bowl, and let the dough rest. Leave it alone at least 1 hour, up to 3, until it rises and just about doubles in size. I left mine about 2 hours and it was just right.
Step 3: Carving Your Heart
After your first cranberry quick bread has baked for 50-55 minutes, come out of the oven beautifully bronzed, and rested until cool, you are ready to get to sculpting. Pop the loaf out of the pan and onto a clean surface.
You will be carving a long, heart-shaped log from this bread, and inserting it into the center of your second dough. This will get baked a second time, into one fully formed reveal loaf. Because this is going inside a second full size dough, you do not want to make it too large.
Step 1: Cut the loaf of bread in half, down the middle lengthwise. This will give you two long slim chunks. That way, if you mess up on one, you still have one more to try to carve! This other half is also for nibbling on the rest of the day, and maybe sharing if you are feeling generous.
Step 2: Cut the bottom corners off, to make the pointed bottom of the heart shape. Carefully use a bread knife or other serrated knife to cut all the way down the length of the bread. Set the scraps aside for nomming.
Step 3: Very carefully cut a V shaped wedge into the top middle part, to form the inside curves of your heart. Then round off the outer edges as well, and you have a full heart shaped log of bread!
If you have lots of time until your yeast dough is ready, cover with a slightly damp towel and set aside. Otherwise, if your cinnamon raisin dough is raised, proceed to step 4.
Step 4: Give Your Bread Some Love!
Now your yeast dough has puffed up a bit, and you are ready for some more shaping! Take the heart shape you carved earlier and have it nearby too.
First, spray a bread loaf pan with oil (the same one as before or a new one).
Second, drop some flour on a clean surface. Plop your yeast dough on there, and roll it out a few times with your hands. You can also "punch it down" right in the bowl. Using your hands, press it out into a rectangular shape.
Third, drape the rectangle of dough over your bread pan, roughly centering it with the longer edges hanging over the sides. Take your heart bread, and gently press it into the center.
Fourth, roll the yeast dough up the sides of the heart bread center, and over the top. Pinch and massage the dough so that it fully covers the heart on all sides and the top. Now you have a fully hidden secret center!
Fifth, we will let this dough rest again for the second rise. You should leave it alone for another hour, up to two hours, until it looks nice and puffy and domed on top. Then you are ready for the final step!
Step 5: The Big Reveal
After your bread has risen again, bake it at 350F for 40 to 45 minutes, until it is golden brown and the whole house smells amazing! Take it out, ooh and ahh over it, and wait impatiently for it to cool. Or just use an oven mitt to cut it.
Using a serrated bread knife, carefully saw down width wise, and cut a slice of your choosing.
Hold your breath, and then marvel at the magic inside! Soak in the praise as your dining companions compliment you on a lovely, delightful, surprising, creative, adorable (choose your own adjectives) accomplishment.
Then slather on tons of butter, and enjoy!
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