Heart-Shaped Cinnamon-Raisin Loaf
For the dough
For the filling
In a medium-size bowl, pour 1 3/4 cups warm water (about 110 degrees) over raisins; set aside. In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine 1/4 cup warm water (about 110 degrees) and yeast. Let sit until yeast is creamy, about 10 minutes. Add flour, powdered milk, sugar, salt, and melted butter to yeast. Drain raisins, pouring water into bowl with yeast mixture; set raisins aside. Mix yeast mixture, using the paddle attachment, on low speed for 1 minute. Change to dough hook and mix on medium-low speed for 7 minutes; or knead by hand, 15 to 20 minutes. Add raisins, and mix on medium-low speed until dough is firm but not dry, about 3 minutes.Advertisement
Transfer dough to a lightly floured surface and knead by hand for 1 minute more, and then shape into a ball. Place dough smooth side up in a large, lightly oiled bowl. Cover with plastic wrap; let rise in a warm place until dough is doubled in bulk, about 1 1/2 hours.
Butter two 9-by-5-inch loaf pans with butter. Cut four pieces of aluminum foil into 9-by-20-inch pieces. Lightly crush each piece, making four 9-inch-long cylinders. Place two in each pan along opposite sides, and set aside. In a small bowl, combine sugar, cinnamon, and butter, and set aside.
Place the risen dough on a lightly floured surface, and cut in half. Cover one piece of dough loosely with lightly oiled plastic wrap, and set aside. Roll the other piece of dough into a 9-by-18-inch rectangle. Sprinkle half the sugar mixture over the dough and rub the surfaceusing the back of a spoon to spread.
Starting at the short end of the rectangle, roll up the dough tightly toward the center, brushing each roll of the dough with beaten egg. When half of the dough is rolled, repeat the process with the other side. You will have two joined, parallel cylinders to be the top lobes of a heart shape. Pinch the bottom of the dough to create the point of a heart, and place loaf in buttered pan, with point of heart between the foil cylinders. Repeat rolling, seasoning, and shaping process with reserved dough. Cover each pan with plastic wrap and let loaves rise in a warm place for 1 hour. Thirty minutes before this final rise is completed, heat the oven to 400 degrees.
Brush the tops of the loaves with egg white, and sprinkle each loaf with 1 teaspoon sugar. Bake 15 minutes; rotate pans and lower oven temperature to 375 degrees; bake 15 minutes more. If the loaves are browning too quickly, use foil to create tent tops to cover them loosely. Remove from oven, and let pans cool on a wire rack for 30 minutes. Remove bread from pans, and continue cooling, resting each loaf of bread on its side.
This bread can be served straight from the oven, although if you're using it for toast, it's best prepared one day ahead.