The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Cinnamon Raisin Walnut Bread possible disaster

kensbread01's picture

Cinnamon Raisin Walnut Bread possible disaster

Today I decided to try a sweet bread out of the Peter Reinhart's Bakers' Apprentice.  On page 147 there is this recipe that looks easy enough, and I followed the recipe to the ounce (he measured in ounces) but found that after 3 hours of waiting for it to rise, there would be no rise to this bread.  It was way too wet and sticky.  I just don't understand how he can put out a recipe that is like 2 cups short of flour.  He did say to add flour to make it not sticky at mix time, and I neglected to do that since I felt I measured everything correctly, why shouldn't that be enough.  I am just a little disappointed in this recipe and now will have to judge everything else by instinct rather than exact measurements.

So I added in about 2 cups of flour and just kneaded by hand, let it sit for 30 minutes, and then rolled it all out into a single loaf (not the double loaves that the recipe suggests).  I put it back in the proofing box (microwave oven with hot water on the side) and finally it is starting to rise.   Now it looks like one giant croissant and I plan to bake it on a oven stone at 350.  Maybe it will still turn out okay.

aptk's picture

And I commend you for daring to do what you could to salvage the project. I myself bake largely by the feel of my dough and often find myself changing things up along the way. I am sure that it is going to be a delicious loaf!

SpoonandSparrow's picture

Hello, I've experienced much of the same trouble with this particular recipe, too. I have baked it several times and each time has been a bit frustrating, but it always makes good toast even if its not perfect or pretty.

I bake from BBA quite a bit (baked two varieties from it today!) and have enjoyed everything else. But this CinnRaisinWalnut thing has really been perplexing. Unless you're baking it for someone else, then once its cooled just slice it up and put the slices in the freezer and make toast as you want.

Happy Holidays to you and all TFL.

Antilope's picture

adds up to 72.8% (Water, Buttermilk and Egg). That's a pretty wet dough.

The original recipe calls for 16 oz flour, 4 oz buttermilk, 6 oz water and 1.65 oz egg. That also works out to 72.8% hydration.

Cutting the water down to 4 oz would make a hydration of about 60.3%, which would be a more kneadable dough.


BBA Cinnamon Raisin Walnut Bread %
Bread flour...........100
Instant yeast.........1.4


BBA Cinnamon Raisin Walnut Bread

3½ cups (16 ounces) unbleached bread flour
4 teaspoons (.66 ounce) granulated sugar
1¼ teaspoon (.31 ounce) salt
2 teaspoons (.22 ounce) instant yeast
1¼ teaspoons (.16 ounce) ground cinnamon
1 large (1.65 ounces) egg, slightly beaten
2 tablespoons (1 ounce) shortening, melted or at room temperature
½ cup (4 ounces) buttermilk or whole milk, at room temperature
¾ cup (6 ounces) water, at room temperature
1½ cups (9 ounces) raisins, rinsed and drained
1 cup (4 ounces) chopped walnuts

Xenophon's picture

but you should approach most recipes as being approximate as far as the quantities of liquid to be added go.  Just took a look at my kindle version of the book and the recipe seems to indicate a hydration of around 60% (rough estimate, didn't calculate it in detail) and I assumed 1 cup of water to weigh about the same as 1 cup of flour, am on thew metric system myself) which does not seem out of the ordinary to me.  All flours are different, some of the ingredients you add will absorb more/less liquid etc.  After a while I gave up adding everything to the gram, just make a ballpark calculation and go by feel to determine if the dough's properly hydrated for my purpose.


There's one thing I'll say though, having made this mistake myself:  especially in the beginning people tend to add too much flour because they think the dough's too sticky.  I believe this to be one off the most frequently occurring errors.  When in doubt, always err on the side of too wet.

All of that said, you did what you thought was required (and very well may have been required) to salvage the bread, let us know how it worked out.

mrfrost's picture

Bake in pan if it's that wet!

kensbread01's picture

I'm happy with the results and may just post a few pics once I get them uploaded.  I'm glad I added more flour, that seem to start the yeast feeding again and the dough had a nice final rise and enough pop in the oven to look good.  It is tasty and I had several compliments from those who tried it.  It is already 1/3 gone and that was in the first half hour.

I am a bit worried that if this recipe did not really work without some major tweaking, can I trust the Pannetone recipe in the same book or should I look for another recipe.  Or should I just use his Pannetone recipe and then adjust as I see fit.  I did use KA Bread flour on the CinnWalnut, I think it is unbleached.  When it came time to "fix' the recipe, I just added some Gold Medal All Purpose flour, the inexpensive stuff I sometimes use for my starter.

mini_maggie's picture

As you said, you neglected to add enough flour to make a sticky dough when he said to do so.  Flours vary in their thirstiness with things as variable as age and time of year so there will always be some fine tuning.  A recipe will often start with the minimum amount of flour that is certain to be required, and tell you to adjust until dough reaches a certain character from there - if they tell you to do that, believe them :-)

Glad your bread turned out well - experimentation is half the fun, enjoy the ride!  I haven't made his pannetone but I'm sure others have and hopefully they will chime in with their experience. 

kensbread01's picture

have said more as to what to expect.  I had no ideal that I would need so much extra flour (maybe 2 cups) to make the dough unsticky.  Not all recipes are so vague... but of course it makes sense.  Next time I will do better.  My Tartain bread recipe is spot on... to the gram.  No guessing how much is enough.  After all, if we all knew what we were doing, we wouldn't need a book to show us the way.  I'm just glad this turned out and "let the baker beware" when it comes to following directions and paying attention to the details.

kensbread01's picture

Here is what the final loaf looked like... shoulda, coulda been two loaves but I threw it all down on the baking stone in the form of a croissant.  It actually tastes very good, no hint of sourness.  I used one package of quick rise yeast for my levain.

dmsnyder's picture

Hi, kensbread01.

I have made this bread dozens of times and have always found Reinhart's formula reliable. The dough is somewhat sticky coming off the mixer, but is very manageable after the bulk fermentation. Note that, if you rinse the raisins, the water that clings to them is an unaccounted for increase in the dough hydration. I generally rinse the raisins as my first step and let them drain for a good 30 minutes in a sieve over a bowl before adding them to the dough. 

From your original post, I understand that the dough didn't rise. Then you added 2 cups (!!) of flour, rested 30 minutes and shaped. If this is true, the added flour, which would be a substantial fraction of the total flour is, essentially, unfermented. As a result, your loaf may have tasted great but would be pretty dense.

This is a delicious bread. If your yeast was good, I don't know why your dough didn't rise. I'd give it another go, but try to account for the problems you had and correct them.

BTW, here's what it should look like (more or less):

Happy baking!


kensbread01's picture

David,  I will not hesitate to make this bread again.  As I said, I diverted disaster by adding flour.  Since it then became an ad-lib process, I'm not sure exactly how much flour I added.  Maybe it was only 1.5 cups?  I was not measuring, just adding and kneading until it felt right.  Even though I did not get that flour in the bulk rise, after shaping the loaf and letting it sit for the final rise, I was impressed with how much it did rise to go ahead with the baking.  I was suspicious of the yeast being bad, but after seeing the final rise, I thought it good.

I believe the final rise was over two hours.   Also, instead of adding raisins and walnuts in the initial mix, I decided to layer it in the swirl along with added cinnamon and brown sugar.  I remember reading about washing the raisins and letting them dry.  I did not do that and was tempted to post here, Why does one need to rinse the raisins?  Also, I remember reading somewhere that sugar is considered a wet ingredient, correct me if I'm wrong.  I think I added in a little extra brown sugar to make it sweeter and did not account for that... I would estimate a total of 3 tablespoons of brown sugar was added to the recipe.  Ken

dmsnyder's picture

I don't know about sugar being a "wet ingredient." It is hydrophilic and competes with the flour for water. 3 T of brown sugar is a lot. Similarly, dried fruit will absorb available water, so watering it before mixing is a good idea. The idea is to make the added ingredients "hydration neutral," if possible. 

I have the impression from your last note that you are hand kneading. Right? If so, I can see how you might get the impression you needed to add flour. Instead, keep your bench and hands lightly floured. This may require frequent re-flouring, but you still end up adding less flour than the way you did it.

BTW, your addition of sugar makes me wonder how you handled the cinnamon - where and when you added it and whether you added more than suggested. Cinnamon inhibits yeast.  I don't know how, but this can be a problem from what I've read.


kensbread01's picture

David, I used my Bosch UP to mix the dry and wet ingredients.  Just got this thing on CyberMonday and want to use it whenever I can, for whatever I can.  It works very well and I'm happy with the results of the mix.  I did the bulk rise right in the plastic bowl, just removing the dough hooks.  I added the amount of cinnamon and brown sugar (not white sugar) required by the recipe with the initial dry mix.   Not having my hands on the dough, I could see it was a bit wet, but decided 'what the heck' lets see how it rises.  Again, it had very little rise after a good 3 hours.  I did not add in the raisins and walnuts at this time....  until I did the shaping when I added in more flour (by hand), rolled it out, and added more Brown Sugar, Cinnamon, the Walnuts and the Raisins.  That's how she went down... and into the oven after another 2-3 hours final rise.  I added a bit more "heat" during the final rise making sure the microwave oven had hot water on the side...  Again, I'm happy with the final results, certainly not as pretty a loaf as the ones in the pictures but it did not lack flavor.

btw:  don't know if you've done the Pannetone out of BBA but I've got questions on that I will post in separate thread. I plan to bake that today.


One more thought... if you embed the cinnamon in the swirl, it probably will not affect the yeast production in any big way as it might if you mixed with the dry as I did.