Thursday, January 5, 2012

Cinnamon Swirl Bread (No Machine Needed)

My little guy is home sick today with a cold.  Do you know what this means??? I have extra time for cuddles, snuggles, and a little bread making. 

I made cinnamon swirl bread a couple days ago.  Adam helped and it was really delicious.  To make the dough, I used my stand mixer with the dough hook attachment.  After rising, punching down, rolling out, and another rise it was ready for the oven.  I baked the breads, the house was full of warm and inviting scents, and we had hot cinnamon bread for snack that night.

This was my first attempt at cinnamon swirl bread.  The taste was there, but a funny thing happened to my loaf once it cooled.  The top crust separated from the swirl of the bread.  My husband proclaimed, "It may not look pretty, but it sure tastes good." 

Back to the drawing board.  I started searching the web for what may  have gone wrong.  It was likely one of two things.  Either I didn't roll it tight enough, or the butter used to make the cinnamon sugar stick separated the layers.  After looking at the suggestions I decided to try batch number two.

Seeing this recipe makes two loaves. I would change one thing on each.  The first loaf I would make the same as before, except I would roll it tighter.  The second loaf, I would omit the butter and use egg wash as the "glue" instead.  I also rolled the second loaf tighter.

Another experiment for the second batch was to make the entire dough by hand.  No mixer, no bread machine, just a wooden spoon and my hands.  Want to know what I found out???? It was actually easier this way.  I didn't have to clean the mixer and it really didn't take that much longer.

So for the results of the second batch.  The loaf rolled with the butter stilled separated.  For the loaf with the egg was fine.  Check out the photo (the bread on the left is the butter and the loaf on the right is the egg wash.)

The ingredient list is simple, it just takes a little time and patience.  Don't be intimidated by making a bread from scratch.  Just think, our ancestors did this on a daily basis.  I urge you to give this one a try.  If it doesn't come out perfect the first time, try it again.  The more you make bread the easier it gets.

ingredients (yields 2 loaves)

1/2 c. low-fat milk, I used skim
3 tbsp. butter
2 tsp. salt
3 tbsp. sugar

1 1/2 c. warm water
4 1/2 tsp. active dry yeast, 2 packets
5 to 6 c. all purpose flour

1/2 c. sugar
2 tsp. cinnamon
1 egg, beaten

In a small sauce pan, combine milk, butter, sugar, and salt.  Over low heat, heat the mixture, then let cool to lukewarm.  In a large bowl, combine water and yeast.  Let the yeast proof (bubble up) a bit. 

Once the milk mixture is lukewarm add it and 4 1/2 c. of flour to the bowl with the yeast.  Mix with a wooden spoon until combined.  Slowly add more flour to the dough, a 1/2 c. at a time, until it comes together in a ball.  I only used 5 c. of flour.  (The amount of flour will depend on the environment, humidity, etc.  You want the dough to be tacky, but not stuck to your hand.)

Turn the dough onto a floured surface and knead until it is elastic and no longer tacky.  To knead the dough, fold it onto itself and push it away from you on the counter with the heel of your hand.  Keep turning and repeating the process.  This will take about 5 to 8 minutes.

Place your dough into a greased bowl, cover with plastic wrap, add a few towels, and let it rise.  Bread likes to raise in a nice warm environment, away from drafts.  Find a warm spot in your house.  Mine is on the kitchen counter next to the stove, wrapped in several towels.

Here's another tip, if you are using a glass or metal bowl, warm it up first.  Run hot water in the bowl, then dump the water and dry it out.  This will help the warm environment.

Now, go have a cup of coffee, read a book, snuggle with your best buddy :)  Wait about an hour, until the dough has doubled in size.  Punch it down and divide it in half.

On a floured surface roll out half of the dough into a 8 1/2 inch by 14 inch rectangle.  At this point this point you can roll the bread starting with the short side, and place it in a loaf pan.  This is your typical white bread.  But for our purposes we are going to add a cinnamon sugar filling.

Mix 1/2 c. sugar with 2 tsp. cinnamon in a bowl.  Brush the beaten egg on the dough and sprinkle half of the cinnamon sugar on it.

Starting with the short side, roll it tightly away from you.  Be sure to pinch the ends and seam together to seal in the filling.  Place in a greased 8 1/2 inch x 4 1/2 inch x 2 1/2 inch loaf pan. Repeat this process with the second half of the dough.

Cover and let rise, until doubled in size, about another hour.

Bake in a preheated 375 degree oven for 40 to 45 minutes, or until golden brown.  You can brush the top with the remaining egg wash, if you want an extra dark crust.

Remove from pans immediately and cool on a rack.  Store in plastic wrap for several days.

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