Cinnamon Raisin Quick Bread

Today: a quick post for a quick bread — that is, any sort of bready baked good that’s made with a leavening agent other than yeast. In this case, our tasty treat relies on the bubble-producing interaction of baking soda and buttermilk to give rise to a cinnamon-raisin oat loaf with a moist interior and a crunchy, sparkly cinnamon-sugar crust. Amazing!

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Even more amazing, I’d say, is the fact that this simple bread is reliant entirely on whole grains. Which means that, in the world of muffins and cakes — common quick breads — it’s reasonably healthy. It’s no bowl of straight oatmeal, mind you, but it sure served me well this past week when I didn’t have time to sit down for breakfast. And, considering that you can swap the raisins for fresh fruit and nuts, my bet is that a slice of this stuff (or a muffin — the recipe can be used to make either) is better than the nutritionally suspect take-out breakfast I’d have otherwise been eating. 

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The keys to success with this loaf and other sorts of quick breads are simple. First off, when mixing together your wet and dry ingredients, stir only as many times as is needed to moisten the dry bits; stir more, and your resulting baked good will be chewy rather than tender. Next up, once you’ve got your treat in the oven, don’t go stomping around or you’ll risk bursting the bubbles your leavening agents have worked so hard to develop and your results will, if you’ll excuse my bad pun here, fall flat. Despite all of those delicious cinnamony smells that’ll be wafting out of your oven, don’t open the door to sneak a peek until you’re nearing the suggested baking time, or you’ll likely find that the centre of your baked good will cave in something fierce. Finally, be sure to transfer the end result to a wire rack not long after it comes out of the oven, or your would-have-been-moist loaf may continue to cook until it’s crumbly and dry. 

Beyond those few tips though, feel free to swap raisins for other fun ingredients (I think either raspberries or chocolate chips would make for a great cake), add in a bit of citrus zest, experiment with other spices, or make little muffins rather than a big loaf. And maybe, just maybe, try topping it off with a bit of cream cheese icing (in which case, you’ll want to stick with that bowl of oatmeal for breakfast). 

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Cinnamon Raisin Quick Bread
Inspired by epicurious.com
Makes 1 9x5-inch loaf*

Ingredients
2⅓ cups quick-cooking oats
1 cup whole wheat flour
½ cup brown sugar, packed 
 cup white sugar
¼ cup of wheat germ, wheat bran, or some combination of the two
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1½ tsp baking soda
¾ tsp salt

1 cup buttermilk**
½ vegetable oil
1 large egg
1 tsp vanilla extract

 cup freshly-boiled water
1
½ cups raisins plumped in a bit of hot water (you can also use bite-sized pieces of other dried/fresh/frozen fruit, chopped nuts, chocolate chips, etc.)

½ tbsp white sugar
¼ tsp cinnamon

Directions

1. Preheat oven to 375
ºF. Butter and flour a 9x5-inch baking pan. 

2. In a large bowl, combine oats, flour, brown sugar, white sugar, wheat germ/bran, cinnamon, baking soda and salt. Whisk until combined. In a medium bowl, whisk together buttermilk, oil, egg and vanilla until smooth. In a small bowl, stir together 
½ tbsp white sugar and ¼ tsp cinnamon. 

Step_1.jpg3. Make a well in the dry ingredients and pour the wet ingredients into the well. Stir gently with a wooden spoon until wet and dry ingredients are almost combined. Stir in hot water and let batter sit for five minutes. Gently fold in your add-ins. 

Step_2.jpg4. Spread batter into prepared pan. Sprinkle cinnamon-sugar evenly overtop of batter. Bake for 30-40 minutes, or until a tester inserted in the centre of the cake comes out clean. Let bread cool in the pan on a wire rack for 5 minutes before removing from the pan to cool completely. 

Step_3.jpg*You can also make 18 standard-sized muffins. If you’re going this route, plop your batter in prepared muffin cups (either greased and floured, or lined with paper liners) and bake for 15-20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the centre of a muffin comes out clean. Cool muffins in the pan for 5 minutes before removing from the pan to cool completely.  

**If you don’t have buttermilk, no worries! Simply combine 1 tbsp of white vinegar with 1 cup less 1 tbsp of milk and let sit for 5-10 minutes until milk has curdled. Now you’re good to go!

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