I hope you all had a fantastic New Year! It’s hard to believe that we’re already more than halfway through January, which sadly means my break between semesters is coming to a close. I go back to school on Thursday, and I am only taking one class this semester, which will most likely seem like a cake walk compared to taking two at a time while also working full-time.
I’m hoping that I might have more time to blog, but I’m not going to make any promises that I can’t keep. I have been cooking a lot, and one of my friends shares a similar love of technically challenging recipes (we made homemade ravioli last Friday, THAT was an undertaking). When you have a cooking partner in crime it can definitely help make things seem less daunting. Brad turns 30 in March, and after much back and forth, and with some inspiration from the lovely Julia Child, I’m hoping to put together a fantastic homemade celebration dinner. That’s the plan, at least for the time being.
But that’s not what you came here for. You came here for a recipe! This cinnamon swirl bread is one of my favorites, and back in 2008 we received a few bread baking books for Christmas from both sides of our family (they knew we had gotten into bread). This one is pretty easy to make, although no matter how many times I try, it never comes out as big and luxurious as a store-bought loaf of cinnamon bread. But that’s also probably because while this recipe calls for two loaves, you could easily make one monster loaf. But I like having two loaves, as nothing beats cinnamon toast in the morning with some good butter and a cup of delicious tea. It helps get me through these awful winter months.
It’s also perfect for making into french toast for a lovely brunch. In fact, we had just that this morning, with some home fries cooked up in bacon grease (there’s no other way to do it) and some thick cut peppered bacon. It was delicious, if I do say so myself.
Cinnamon Swirl Bread
Adapted from Peter Reinhart’s “The Bread Baker’s Apprentice”
Makes two loaves
For Christmas this year I got a food scale, and I got to play with it for this, which is why measurements are in both cups and ounces.
3 1/2 cups (16 oz) bread flour
4 tsp. granulated sugar
1 1/4 tsp. salt
2 tsp. instant yeast
1 1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 large egg, slightly beaten
2 tb. butter (or shortening)
1/2 cup buttermilk at room temperature (I used powdered buttermilk, always works)
3/4 cup water at room temperature
Cinnamon Swirl Filling
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 tb. ground cinnamon
Stir together the flour, sugar, salt, yeast, and cinnamon into the mixing bowl of your stand mixer (you can also do this by hand, but I’ll be giving mixer instructions). Add the egg, butter, buttermilk, and water. Stir together with the paddle attachment until ingredients come together. Adjust with flour or water if the dough seems too sticky or too dry and stiff.
Switch to the dough hook, and beat on low for about 6-8 minutes. You want the dough to be tacky but not sticky. If you have an instant read thermometer (a necessity in every kitchen if you ask me) the dough should be between 77 and 81 Fahrenheit. Transfer dough to a large bowl that has been lightly oiled. Cover with plastic wrap and place in a warm draft free place (above the fridge is my go to).
Let the dough rise for about 2 hours, or until doubled.
Divide the dough into two pieces and form them into loaves. In order to form into a loaf, shape the dough into a rectangle that is about 5 inches long and 6-8 inches wide. Mix together the remaining sugar and cinnamon, and sprinkle on the surface of the dough. Roll up from the short side of the dough and roll up into a loaf shape. Pinch the ends and slightly roll to even it out. Place dough seam side down into a lightly oiled loaf pan. Form the second loaf and then spray with oil (I use pam). Cover lightly with plastic wrap and let rise a second time until at least doubled, or until dough comes close to cresting above the lip of the pan.
Let rise for at least an hour, if not more. If your loaves are a bit small at this point don’t panic, mine never get to be very large but they still come out delicious and that’s what matters most, right?
Preheat the oven to 350. Place loaf pans on a sheet pan (and remove plastic wrap) and make sure they are not touching. Bake for 20 minutes and then rotate the pan. Bake for another 20-30 minutes until they are golden brown on top. They should make a hollow sound when you thump them on the bottom.
Immediately remove bread from pans and let cool on a rack for at least an hour (2 if possible) until slicing. I know it’s hard to not want to slice right into the bread, but it’s sadly for the best.