Monday, March 08, 2010

Cinnamon swirl bread

Pizza dough excluded, I haven't baked bread in ages. Saturday I decided it was time to revive an old favorite - cinnamon swirl bread.

The recipe is something I adapted from my Mom's whole-wheat bread recipe, and I have sort of played with it over the years. Sometimes I make this with raisins, but this time I made it without. It is good stuff either way. You basically let the dough rise, punch it down, roll it out, apply the cinnamon sugar, roll it up, let it rise again, and bake. The results are really kind of pretty, and the bread is quite tasty.

Jean's Cinnamon Swirl Bread
-makes 1 loaf

-1/4 c. milk
-1/2 c. water
-3 T. honey
-2 T. molasses
-1 1/2 t. instant yeast
-1 1/2 c. unbleached all-purpose flour
-3/4 c. whole-wheat flour
-1 t. salt
-2 T. butter, diced into small cubes
-1/2 cup raisins (optional)
-1 egg, lightly beaten
-3 T. sugar
-1 T. cinnamon
-Extra butter for the loaf pan and for brushing the loaf

Mix the milk, water, honey, and molasses together. Warm in the microwave to about 100 degrees F. Add to the bowl of the stand mixture. Sprinkle in the yeast and allow yeast to get foamy, 5 - 10 minutes.

Add both the flours, salt, and butter (I just add the little cubes of solid butter and let them get worked in during the kneading) to the wet ingredients. With the dough hook attachment, knead for 10 minutes or until the dough comes together with a smooth surface. If using raisins, add them now directly to the dough and knead to incorporate.

Place the dough in a lightly buttered bowl and cover with plastic wrap. In a warm, draft free place, allow to rise for 1 1/2 hours or until doubled in size. (I turn my oven on for only 1 minute, quickly turn it off, and then place the bowl of dough inside the oven to rise, which creates a barely warm, draft free environment - a little trick Mom taught me!)

Prepare the egg wash. Mix the sugar and cinnamon together.

Punch down the dough and place on a lightly floured board. Roll into a long rectangle shape about 1/2 inch thick, keeping it no more than 8 inches wide so it will fit in the pan when you roll it up. Brush the top of the dough with egg wash, which helps the layers from separating. Sprinkle with the sugar and cinnamon mixture (using as little or as much as you like - you may not need all of the cinnamon sugar, but you do need to be a little heavy handed with it to get the distinct lines to appear).

Roll up the dough like a jelly roll and tuck the ends under. Transfer to an 8 1/2 inch buttered loaf pan, placing the dough seam side down. Cover with plastic wrap and allow to rise again until doubled in size (perhaps an hour or so).

Carefully brush a little melted butter over the top. Bake at 375 for 30 minutes. Remove from the loaf pan, brush the top with extra melted butter if desired, and allow to cool completely on a wire rack before slicing.

The cinnamon swirl bread comes out of the oven looking like any other loaf of bread...

...but it looks pretty darn cool once you slice it!

It is great simply toasted with butter. And, believe it or not, this bread makes for a fantastic grilled cheese sandwich, especially with some bacon or ham (or both) and tomato slices (trust me on this, it is true - even if you use raisins in the bread!). But I would be lying if I said I made this for any other reason than to have some cinnamon french toast, along side my homemade ginger and sage breakfast sausage, topped with real Minnesota maple syrup... ;-)

A cinnamon-laced breakfast of champions

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