Cinnamon Swirl BreadPosted: April 4, 2012
So–though she’s got posts appearing–my ma is in Spain for a bit visiting one of my favorite brothers, G. She keeps posting these obnoxiously beautiful pictures on her Facebook page with clever captions like just the view from my bedroom window and such. Needless to say, the view from MY bedroom window doesn’t quite compete. But anyway, I thought you all should know she’s away in case you’ve either emailed her or, more importantly, you want to join me in a collective sigh of envy.
Much better, right? Right.
Anyway, as I’ve mentioned before when my ma goes away for a bit–though I’m 27 and live in my own house clear across the country from my mother–when she bounces from the blogosphere I suddenly feel like I’m 16 and have the house to myself all over again. So everybody get ready to drink really bad mixed drinks and Miller High Life until they puke! Ok, just kidding. The adult manifestation of this sensation for me is a desire to do things really, really well during her absence in our little corner of the interwebs. Because, you know, whereas I used to play beer pong in the basement to get my kicks, now I take 400 photographs of Cinnamon Swirl Bread and relish the thrill of a few of them being halfway decent.
And so, without further ado, I present to you this recipe for Cinnamon Swirl Bread from “The Best Recipe” by Cooks Illustrated. So you don’t suffer the same confusion I did, this is not some sort of sticky bun loaf. It’s bread you slice and toast and smear butter across, repeating these steps until you are out of either coffee or milk (because it is fantastic on its own and *phenomenal* with a cup of milky coffee). This is a damn near perfect loaf of bread. Like, I’m going to try making it sometime without the cinnamon swirl because the bread part in its own right is that delicious. It is also my first resounding bread baking success. Take that, Ma. (Teach a woman to buy churros and she will be happy for the night, but figure out how to make perfect fresh bread and you can watch it all go straight to your hips. Oh yeah…) So yes, I find myself staring at this glorious loaf of bread sometimes, ensnared by my sensations of victory and adoration for this wonderful bread. If you need me, I’ve probably been stopped in my tracks in the kitchen.
Have I convinced you to bake this bread yet? I have? Good. I’m so glad. No, really. Let me know how it goes.
Cinnamon Swirl Bread
makes 1 loaf
*recipes doubles easily*
enriched bread dough
1/2 c. milk
4 T. unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1 package (2 1/4 tspn.) dry active yeast
1/2 c. warm water (110 degrees)
1/3 c. sugar
2 large eggs
1 1/2 tspn. salt
3 1/4-3 3/4 c. unbleached all-purpose flour
1/4 c. sugar
5 tspn. ground cinnamon
milk for brushing
1 large egg
2 tspn. milk
1. Heat milk and butter in small saucepan over medium heat until butter melts. Cool to lukewarm (about 110 degrees).
2. Meanwhile, sprinkle yeast over warm water in bowl of standing mixer fitted with paddle attachment. Beat in sugar and eggs and mix at low speed to blend. Add salt, lukewarm milk mixture, 2 cups of flour; mix at medium speed until thoroughly blended, about 1 minute. Switch to dough hook attachment. Add 1 1/4 cups flour, and knead at medium-low speed, adding more flour sparingly if dough sticks to sides of bowl, until dough is smooth and comes away from the sides of bowl, about 10 minutes.
3. Turn dough onto work surface. Squeeze dough with a clean dry hand. If dough is sticky, knead in up to 1/2 additional cup flour to form a smooth, soft, elastic dough. Transfer dough to a large, very lightly oiled plastic container or bowl. Cover top of container with plastic wrap and let rise until double in size, 2 to 2 1/2 hours. (*Note from me: Stick it in your turned-off oven. It’s perfect.*) After rise, punch down center of dough once (can be refrigerated, covered, up to 18 hours). Making sure not to fold or misshape dough, turn it onto unfloured work surface; let dough rest, to relax, about 10 minutes.
4. Grease sides and bottom of 9x5x3-inch loaf pan. Mix sugar and cinnamon in small bowl.
5. Press dough neatly into an evenly shaped 6×8-inch rectangle. With short side of dough facing you, roll dough with rolling pin into an evenly shaped 8×18-inch rectangle (flour counter lightly if dough sticks). Brush dough liberally with milk. Sprinkle filling evenly over dough, leaving 1/2-inch border on far end. Starting at end closest to you, roll up dough, pinching dough gently with fingertips to make sure it is tightly sealed. To keep loaf from stretching beyond 9 inches, use hands to occasionally push ends in as dough is rolled. When you read the end, use fingertips to pinch the dough ends together very tightly to form a secure seam. With seam side facing up, push in center of ends. Firmly pinch dough at either end to seal sides of loaf.
6. Place loaf, seam side down, into prepared pan; press lightly to flatten. Cover top of pan loosely with plastic wrap and set aside to rise. Let rise until dough is 1 inch above top of pan, about 1 1/2 hours, or about 1 hour longer if dough has been refrigerated. As dough nears top of pan, adjust oven rack to center position and heat oven to 350 degrees.
7. Meanwhile, in small bowl, whisk together egg and milk. Gently brush loaf top with egg mixture.
8. Bake until loaf is golden brown and instant-read thermometer pushed through from top end into center of loaf registers 185 to 190 degrees (*Note from me: I own no such thermometer and so I just used my eyes and tapped on the top of the loaf to determine doneness.*), 30 to 35 minutes. Remove bread from pan and cool on its side on wire rack until room temperature, at least 45 minutes. (Can be double-wrapped in plastic wrap and stored at room temperature for four days or frozen up to three months.)
That’s not a hazy shot–it’s a halo. I swear.
And here’s one last picture to convince all your parental types out there to give this bread a whirl. This is a picture of my kid’s plate after she ate her toast. Her plate has never, NEVER–no, really, not ONCE–looked like this in her entire life. That alone will keep me baking.