Thursday, November 3, 2011

cinnamon swirl bread

I bet you're thinking that baking homemade bread is difficult and time consuming. It's really not that difficult but IT IS time consuming and you do need A LOT of patience. But it's worth the wait. Trust me. You can be semi-lazy when making this bread because the only thing that requires work is your poor stand mixer. If it were human it would be pooped after mixing this dough. So stop your whining and grab the ingredients to make cinnamon swirl bread. 

Cinnamon Swirl Bread
adapted from Martha Stewart's Baking Handbook
Makes two 9-by-5 inch loaves

***The original recipe is Cinnamon-Raisin Bread but since I'm not a fan of raisins in baked goods, I omitted them from my recipe.***

For the DOUGH:
1 envelope (1/4 ounce) active dry yeast
2 cups warm whole milk (about 110˚F) 
2 pounds 2 ounces (about 6 1/2 cups) all purpose flour, plus more for dusting
1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, room temperature, cut into pieces, plus more for pans
1/2 cup sugar
2 large eggs
2 1/2 teaspoons course salt
1 cup raisins (optional)
1 tablespoon cinnamon

For the FILLING:
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 tablespoons cinnamon

Vegetable oil, for bowl and plastic wrap
Egg wash and for filling - 1 large egg, lightly beaten

Make the dough: In a large bowl of an electric mixer, sprinkle the yeast over the warm milk; whisk to combine. Add the flour, butter, sugar, 2 eggs, and salt. Attach bowl to mixer fitted with the dough hook. Mix on low speed until all of the ingredients are well combined, about 3 minutes. Raise the speed to medium-low and continue to mix until the dough is uniformly smooth and the dough pulls away from the sides of the bowl, about 3 minutes more.

Turn the dough onto a lightly floured work surface. Pat dough into a 9-inch round, about 1 1/4 inches thick. Sprinkle with raisins (if using) and 1 tablespoon cinnamon, and knead until they are just incorporated. Place the dough in a lightly oiled bowl, and cover with oiled plastic wrap; let rise in a warm place until doubled in bulk, about 1 hour. ***I place mine in my oven (that is turned OFF) with a pot of recently boiled water***

Return the dough onto a lightly floured work surface, and pat into a round. Fold in the following manner: Fold the bottom third of the dough up, the top third down, and the right and left sides over, tapping the dough after each fold to release excess flour, and pressing down to seal. Return the dough to the bowl, seam side down, and let rise again until double in bulk, about 40 minutes.

Generously butter two 9-by-5-inch loaf pans; set aside. ***I buy disposable loaf pans from my grocery store which are a little smaller (8 1/2 x 4 1/2) but makes no difference*** 

Make the filling: Combine sugar and cinnamon with 2 tablespoons water in a small bowl. ***Doing this step will produce a cinnabon-like quality to the bread. It will be oozing with cinnamoney goodness*** Return the dough to a lightly floured work surface, and divide in half. Roll out one half to a 12-by-10-inch rectangle; brush with beaten egg, and sprinkle with half the filling. Repeat with remaining dough.

***You can also just combine the cinnamon and sugar minus the water. The cinnamon sugar mix swirled into the bread will result in a "tighter swirl" reminiscent to a store bought loaf, but since you're making it from scratch....better!!!! Don't bother brushing the dough with egg before sprinkling the cinnamon sugar on top. Place it on a lightly floured work surface, divide in half, roll out to the size needed and sprinkle with cinnamon sugar mixture***

With a short end of the rectangle facing you, fold in both sides of the dough, about 1 inch. Then roll the dough towards you, gently pressing as you go to form a tight log. gently roll the log back and forth to seal the seam. ***Or do what I do and pinch the seam closed*** Place the loaf in your prepared pan, seam side down. Repeat with the remaining rectangle. Cover loosely with oiled plastic wrap, let rise in a warm place until dough rises above the rim of the pan, about 30 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat your oven to 425˚F.

Brush the tops of the loaves with the beaten egg, and transfer pans to a parchment/foil lined rimmed baking sheet. Bake, rotating pans halfway through, until the loaves are golden brown, about 45 minutes. (If the tops begin to brown too quickly, tent with aluminum foil.) Turn out the bread onto a wore rack to cool completely before slicing. The bread can be kept, wrapped in plastic, at room temperature up to 4 days. 

***I wrap mine up in parchment paper and store it at room temperature in an airtight container. After a few days, if we have any left, I transfer it to the refrigerator. This bread also freezes well. I tightly wrap it in parchment paper first and then it's wrapped in two layers of plastic wrap. Thaw your bread overnight in the refrigerator the night before consuming. I never know how long it lasts in the freezer because it doesn't last that long.***

You know the smell of Cinnabon buns when you're walking through a mall? This is pretty close and possibly even better. Anything baked with cinnamon is intoxicating! And when you eat this bread toasted with butter, and/or sprinkled with cinnamon sugar, or turned into a pb&j, it's addicting! Thank goodness it makes two loaves.

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