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Apr 13, 2021

Whole Wheat Cinnamon Raisin Bread

This whole wheat cinnamon raisin bread brings the classic flavors of cinnamon raisin bread to a 100% whole wheat dough. 

Whole wheat raisin bread

Along with whole wheat flour, this bread includes raisins, toasted pecans, as well as cinnamon both in the dough and in a swirl you can see in each slice. 

A couple of toasted and buttered slices of this bread for breakfast will carry you all of the way to lunch. The bread is hearty and filling, with a super moist crumb. 

Whole wheat cinnamon bread

This bread takes a couple of days to make. First, you make both a preferment and a soaker with most of the ingredients. 

After you mix the soaker, which contains flour, salt, milk (any kind, including soy or rice milk), and the raisins, you let it sit covered for 12 to 24 hours at room temperature. This really softens the grains and mellows the flavor. 

At the same time, you mix a biga of whole wheat flour, a small amount of yeast, milk, oil, and an egg, cover it, and refrigerate it for 8 hours and up to 3 days. 

Sometimes it's difficult to make 100 percent whole wheat flour taste good even though it's the more nutritious option. This method really makes a difference. 

This method of using both a soaker and biga (preferment) in whole grain breads was developed by Peter Reinhart and introduced in his book, Whole Grain Breads: New Techniques, Extraordinary Flavors, first published in 2007. He has an entire chapter in the book discussing the method. If you want to learn more about baking breads with whole grains, definitely get the book. 

If you really want to geek out on baking bread with whole grains, be sure to check out Peter Reinharts's Bread Revolutions: World-Class Baking with Sprouted and Whole Grains, Heirloom Flours, and Fresh Techniques

Can you tell I'm a big fan? I have six of his books, including two dedicated to pizza. 

Whole wheat cinnamon bread with pecans

While making this bread is a two-day process, most of it is hands off. Plus, the schedule is very flexible. 

I did have some issues with the first rise, in that it barely rose (in fact, I was worried that I forgot the yeast). I decided, after two hours, to go ahead and shape the loaf for the second rise. Thankfully, it rose as expected and rose even more in the oven. In fact, the dough had great oven spring. Have faith in oven spring! 

Tips for making this whole wheat cinnamon raisin bread:

First, the baking time will vary because of the lower baking temperature. It really helps to have an instant read thermometer to check if the bread is done. It's much more reliable than thumping the bottom of the loaf to see if it sounds hollow. 

Keep an eye on the loaf to make sure the top is not over browning. When the top is brown enough, tent it with foil. 

To toast the pecans, heat a skillet over medium-low heat and add the nuts. Cook, stirring regularly, until the pecans are fragrant, five to ten minutes. 

Finally, be sure to cool the loaf completely before slicing it. Bread is still "cooking" as it cools. 

Whole wheat cinnamon swirl bread

This bread actually develops flavor over time, and even tastes better after a couple of days. If you love Raisin Bran, try substituting this bread for breakfast. So good. 

Whole wheat cinnamon bread recipe variations:

Instead of pecans, you can substitute toasted walnuts. You can also skip the nuts if you or your family members aren't big fans. 

For the soaker, you can substitute a multigrain cereal, such as Bob's Red Mill, for half of the whole wheat. You will definitely need a kitchen scale because the volume will not match. 

You can leave out the cinnamon swirl if you prefer. 

Bread Bakers Logo

Welcome to this month's Bread Bakers. Our theme is whole grains, and our host is Wendy of A Day in the Life on the Farm

Whole Wheat Cinnamon Raisin Bread  on a plate

Whole Wheat Cinnamon Raisin Bread

Whole Wheat Cinnamon Raisin Bread
Yield: 16 servings
Author: Karen's Kitchen Stories
This whole wheat cinnamon raisin bread brings the classic flavors of cinnamon raisin bread to a 100% whole wheat dough.


For the Soaker
  • 170 grams (1 1/3 cups) whole wheat flour
  • 3 grams (3/8 teaspoon) salt
  • 170 grams (1 cup) milk, buttermilk, yogurt, soy milk, or rice milk. I used a combination of milk and sour cream. 
  • 170 grams (1 cup) raisins
For the Biga
  • 170 grams (1 1/3 cups) whole wheat flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon instant yeast
  • 85 grams (6 tablespoons) milk, buttermilk, or other milk, at room temperature
  • 56 grams (1/4 cup) vegetable oil
  • 45 grams (1 large) egg, slightly beaten
Final Dough
  • All of the soaker
  • All of the biga
  • 56 grams (7 tablespoons) whole wheat flour
  • 5 grams (5/8 teaspoon) salt
  • 7 grams (2 1/4 teaspoons) instant yeast
  • 28 grams (1 1/2 tablespoons) honey
  • 4 grams (1/2 teaspoon) ground cinnamon
  • 85 grams (3/4 cup) toasted and chopped pecans
  • 56 grams (1/4 cup) cinnamon sugar - (9 heaping teaspoons sugar plus 2 teaspoons cinnamon) 


To Make the Soaker
  1. Combine everything but the raisins in a bowl and stir until all of the flour is hydrated, about a minute. 
  2. Knead in the raisins with wet hands until evenly distributed. 
  3. Cover with plastic wrap and let sit at room temperature for 12 to 24 hours. After 24 hours, refrigerate for up to 2 more days. If you do refrigerate it, be sure to remove 2 hours before mixing. 
To Make the Biga
  1. Mix all of the ingredients in a bowl. Knead with wet hands in the bowl for 2 minutes. 
  2. Let rest for 5 minutes. 
  3. Knead one more time with wet hands for another minute. 
  4. Transfer the dough to a clean bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for 8 hours to 3 days. 
  5. Remove from the refrigerator about 2 hours before mixing the final dough. 
To Make the Bread
  1. Cut the soaker and biga into 12 pieces each. Add them to the bowl of a stand mixer. 
  2. Add the flour, salt, yeast, honey, and cinnamon. Mix with the paddle attachment on low for one minute. Switch to the dough hook and mix on medium low for about 3 minutes, until you have a cohesive dough. The dough should be slightly sticky. 
  3. Add the pecans to the mixer and mix on low for 1 to 2 minutes. Turn the dough out onto a floured work surface and let it rest for 5 minutes. 
  4. Knead the dough for one more minute by hand, adjusting the flour and water. The final dough should be very tacky. 
  5. Place the dough into an oiled bowl and let rise until it rises to about 1 1/2 times its original size, 1 to 2 hours. 
  6. Dust your work surface with flour and turn the dough out. Pat it into a 8 inch square. Sprinkle the surface with the cinnamon sugar and roll it up tightly into a loaf. 
  7. Place the loaf into an oiled 4 1/2 inch by 9 inch loaf pan and cover with oiled plastic wrap. Let rise for about an hour, until the loaf crests above the pan. 
  8. Heat the oven to 400 degrees F. When the dough is ready, place the loaf in the oven and reduce the oven heat to 325 degrees F. Bake for 20 minutes and rotate the pan and continue baking for another 25 to 45 minutes, until the loaf registers 195 degrees F (or sounds hollow when tapped on the bottom). When the dough is thoroughly browned, tent with foil to prevent over browning while continuing to bake. 
  9. Cool completely on a wire rack. 
cinnamon bread
Did you make this recipe?
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Created using The Recipes Generator

Recipe adapted from Peter Reinhart.

Would you like to comment?

  1. Those swirls!! What a beautiful loaf!!

  2. That loaf is a thing of beauty. So gorgeous. Would love to dig into it!

    1. I'd love to share it with you!

    2. I just realized you completely revamped your whole site! I totally did not recognize it! I was thinking, gee why didn't Karen bake this round... LOL Very nice.

    3. Lol Kelly! I've been meaning to do this for a long time!

  3. Whole wheat cinnamon raisin bread looks delicous I need to try this

  4. This is a lovely loaf. This is my breakfast and would love to try your recipe.

  5. Your breads are always amazing and so is this one. Love the raisin pecan studded crumb. And your blog looks really beautiful.

  6. That's a beautiful and gorgeous swirl bread!

  7. this was delicious but crumbly, even though it cooled completely before I sliced it. Ideas why and how to avoid next time?

    1. It is a dense bread, and mine was easy to pull apart because of the swirl, but not crumbly, except maybe a little but on the crust. Did it get more crumbly or less so over time? Maybe a little more water, or sub a little bit of bread flour for the whole wheat?

  8. Ooooh, I love those swirls. I'm going to have to make this-- my favorite to use for French toast!

  9. I need to make this for my son, sans raisins. I spend so much on cinnamon swirl bread it's insane. I think he'd love this!

  10. karen, this is gorgeous. I love your breads. Can you tell me how long to bake if scale this to rolls?

    1. My guess would be about 30 minutes if you bake them against each other in a pan.

  11. Made this bread exactly as indicated in the recipe and it turned out absolutely delicious! Thanks for the recipe and tips for successful baking!

  12. Can you use this technique with Einkorn Flour?

    1. I haven't tried it, but I imagine you could.

  13. I ordered the “Bread Revolution” book you recommended. Awaiting its arrival! In the meantime… can I sub sprouted whole wheat in this recipe? Or would there be an entirely different process for sprouted wheat?

    1. You may have to use slightly less water but I haven't tried it. You might want to add some bread flour or vital wheat gluten too.

  14. I'm planning to make this but noticed that your weight in grams for milk and other dairy options is different from the conversion guide that I follow. I use the King Arthur Flour ingredient conversion chart which says that one cup of dairy is 227 g and you call for 170 g. That's a significant difference and would obviously affect the consistency of the dough. I plan to substitute Bob's Red Mill Multigrain Cereal, as you suggest, for half of the whole wheat flour in the soaker but, again, there's a difference between your weights and the KAF guide that I used. KAF whole wheat for one cup is 113g and your recipe is 127.5g. I was wondering which method you use to calculate weight.

    1. Go ahead and use the KAF guide. I'm sure it will turn out just fine. I often use that one myself, but sometimes I add some more, knowing that people who measure by volume end up with way more flour.

  15. Making my second round with this delicious bread. Simple but not quick, you'll make it once and it will live in your dreams until you make it again.

  16. I made this bread a couple of days ago. Since I don't do any kind of sugar, beyond fruits, I ommited the honey and the sugar. I skipped step 6 and added all the cinnamon into the dough all at once. Raised it the pan for 2 hours in one go instead of having two risings. It was delicious! I did find the top being a little on the crumbly side when slicing it, but not a big issue. I'm glad to have come across this recipe!


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