Artisan Bread. Sourdough Cinnamon Raisin Swirl

I’m not sure about the title of this post. The word artisan, or artigianale in Italian, has become the word of the decade. Once indicating a handmade product to distinguish it from the quotidian factory or machine-made version, it now stands for something else, something more desirable and elite, carrying with it a certain snob appeal and a price tag to match. Kevin McCloud, of Grand Designs fame, sprinkled his series with the terms artisan, bespoke and atelier, giving rise to various Kevin McCloud drinking games at the time. And so while I’m loathe to sound like a braggadocio,¹ I accept that the term ‘artisan’ may not carry the same overtones of wank that it once did. And so the title remains.

Golden flax and spelt

I received a copy of a wonderful book for my birthday, Artisan Sourdough Made Simple, by Emilie Raffa. The book is a gem, a wonderful addition to my bread book library. I’ve known about this book for some time- many of the sourdough bread makers I’ve met through Celia’s blog, Fig Jam and Lime Cordial, have also bought this book. The opening bread recipe is identical to the one I use everyday- I think Celia and Emilie may have collaborated on this basic loaf. The other wonderful bond we share is our sourdough starter. Some years ago, Celia sent her starter around the globe, to Emilie in New York, to me in Melbourne, and to hundreds of others, and in doing so, created a bread making community, all using a clone of her bubbly starter, Priscilla. I’ve also shared this starter as, no doubt, many others have too. Perhaps there are now thousands of Priscilla clones out there. Emilie’s recipes are straight forward and accessible: the book is useful to the beginner and the experienced sourdough baker. Once the basic recipe is mastered, outlined in detail in the first chapter, the proceeding chapters explore sweet and savoury artisan loaves, pan loaves and sandwich breads, whole grains and specialty flours, foccaccia, rolls and flatbread, bread art, leftovers and a few extra recipes.

My plan is to work through each recipe and settle on my favourites. The two loaves I’ve made to date have both worked really well. Emilie’s Golden flax and spelt sourdough is a good everyday loaf, while her Cinnamon Raisin Swirl brings back childhood memories. It is a fitting loaf for Easter and an alternative to hot cross buns. And it’s fun to make. Don’t be put off by the longish recipe below. It really is rather easy. This is Emilie’s recipe, though I have Australianised the ingredient list.

Sourdough Cinnamon and Raisin Swirl.

Cinnamon Raisin Swirl

Before starting the recipe, feed your starter over a day or so till active and bubbly.


  • 50 g bubbly active starter
  • 365 g warm water
  • 480 g bakers flour ( bread flour)
  • 20 g wholemeal flour ( whole wheat flour)
  • 9 g fine sea salt ( not iodized)


  • 65 g raisins
  • 65 g walnuts
  • 50 g  sugar ( I used caster sugar)
  • 6 g powdered cinnamon

Make the dough: In a large bowl, whisk the starter and water together with a fork. Add the flours and salt. Cover with a damp towel and let rest for 30- 60 minutes.

Meanwhile, while the dough is resting, soak the raisins and walnuts in just enough water to cover. Drain well before using.

Add the fillings: Add the raisins and nuts to the bowl. Gently knead the fillings into the dough to incorporate, about 1 minute. The dough will start to feel slightly sticky at this point; add a sprinkle of flour to adjust the consistency if needed.

Bulk rise: Cover the bowl and let rise at room temperature, 21°C, until double in size, about 8-10 hours.

Shape and rise: Remove the dough onto a lightly floured surface. Let it rest for 15 minutes. A longer rest at this stage will relax the dough, making it easier to stretch into a rectangle. Line a 25 cm oval proofing basket with a towel and dust with flour. Combine the sugar and cinnamon in a small bowl. Set aside.

With floured hands gently stretch the dough into a long rectangle, about 40 x 20 cm. Lightly brush the surface with water. Then evenly sprinkle the cinnamon mixture over the top, leaving a small border at the top, bottom and side edges. With the short end facing you, roll up the dough into a lob, pinching in the ends to seal. Place it into a basket, seam side up.

Second rise. Cover the dough and let rest until puffy. ( 30- 60 minutes)  Preheat the oven to 230 C. Cut a piece of parchment paper to fit the size of your pot. Place the paper on the bench, gently invert the dough onto the paper. rub the surface with flour and slash diagonally, making two or three cuts, keeping the depth shallow to preserve the filling.  Use the parchment to lift the dough into the baking pot.

Bake the dough on the center rack for 20 minutes with the lid on. Remove the lid and continue baking for 40 minutes. When finished, remove the loaf to a wire rack and cool before slicing.

( Note, I found the loaf required less time with the lid off)

Cinnamon raisin swirl

¹Braggadocio- empty swagger. Originating from Spenser’s Faerie Queene, 1596, the name given to his personification of vainglory.  English writers at the time were taken with sprinkling Italian words throughout their works. From the Italian, braggadocio, meaning bravado, haughtiness, boaster, braggart. “I wrote the Art of the Deal. I say that not in a braggadocious way,”Donald Trump 2016.  Now who would ever want to accuse Trump of braggadocio?

Emilie Raffa, Artisan Sourdough Made Simple. A beginner’s guide to delicious handcrafted bread with minimal kneading. 2017. I highly recommend this book to all my sourdough making friends and readers.

23 thoughts on “Artisan Bread. Sourdough Cinnamon Raisin Swirl”

  1. I’m so glad you like the Artisan Sourdough book. I got one for Christmas too, also had the idea to work my way through it… yet to go beyond a few basics, however the cinnamon swirl will happen for Easter, much prefer sd fruit loaf to hot x buns. We have visitors coming. Better make 2.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Now take your partners, ladies and gentlemen, for the Cinnamon, Raisin Swirl 😊 it sounds so delightful and delicious and happy-smile inducing. I agree, Emilie Raffa’s book is brilliant for beginners and kitchen swirling bakers alike. I also love your beach posts, Francesca, though i think my most craved days would be those rainy, cold days spent with the heater and a book.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. This looks divine but I’m lost what is bubbly active starter? You will be pleased to know that I’ve been making pizza dough … guess one has to when they have a new pizza oven 😉 Guess what I found in the larder? Quince chilli jelly … oh my unbelievable!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Bubbly active starter is sourdough starter , sometimes called levain. It beeds feeding a day before you make bread to reactivate it. If you want some, I can send some over. I dehydrate it. Now that you are a pizza making queen, sourdough bread is your bext step. It is very easy and I can send you all the info as you go.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I’m still in the small group of people who only use artisan in regards to something homemade by one’s hands like your loaves of bread. Your loaf of Sourdough Cinnamon and Raisin Swirl bread looks so good. It’s one I plan to try soon. I was not familiar with Emilie Raffa’s book until you introduced me just now. I just search at our online book store (bokus) and I can get it here, yea. It on my list of books to order.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Hi Ron, hope you are well and the sun is beginning to get warm over there as our days become more cloudy. Emilie’s book is a beauty and I am pleased to have it in my growing bread library. It is very straight forward and there are some interesting combinations to make.


  6. Good morning I followed the recipe to make the cinnamon raisin swirl using the sourdough starter, some went wrong somewhere, I baked it in a Dutch oven 20 minutes with the lid and 30 minutes without the lid at 230C I think it over cook, it looks like the one in your photo but it is very heavy

    Liked by 2 people

    1. The recipe for this bread comes directly from Emilie Raffe’s book, ‘Artisan Sourdough Made Simple: A Beginner’s Guide to Delicious Handcrafted Bread with Minimal Kneading ‘.Sorry to hear that your bread is heavy Aura.

      Liked by 1 person

    2. Hi, I faced the same issue.It got over baked . I guess it goes back to the oven type.mine works with fan so the temperature should be lower..another issue , 50 gm of cinnamon is a lot ,I had to adjust the quantity with my 2nd time.

      Liked by 1 person

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