Saturday, November 30, 2013

Cinnamon Swirl Bread: A morning delight

My morning routine is this: wake-up, put toast in the oven, boil water for tea, and sit down with a good book and enjoy it all. I particularly revel in this morning calm when the weather starts to turn crisp in the fall. Nothing better than some cozy blankets and delicious food to get your morning started right. This cinnamon swirl bread is the best addition to my morning routine. Looks can be deceiving though and while this loaf turned out to be airy, perfectly swirled, and tasty, bread is a beast and doesn't always come together so well. 
Believe me, yeast bread and I have been at it for over two years now. The competition has been fierce, tears have been shed, and loaves have been mostly flat dense projectiles in my frustration. This loaf made me dance as it was my greatest success to date. 
Lessons learned in the bread wars? Knead until you can need no more or until that loaf is as springy as a trampoline. A Kitchenaid mixer will make this process more pleasant and save your arms a workout. Another important lesson is how to keep the loaf warm while it's rising. In the name of the environment, we keep our house luke warm in the winter. Certainly not a conducive bread making environment. My secret? I make bread on laundry day and place it on top of the dryer to keep it warm. This works beautifully.
Nothing beats fresh baked bread and I encourage all to try it and if you fail try it again, until you are met with the perfect loaf to enjoy in your morning routine. 
Cinnamon Raisin Swirl Bread
Adapted from Cook's Illustrated

Bread Dough
1/2 cup water
1/3 cup honey
2 tsp instant or rapid rise yeast
1/2 cup milk
2 eggs
3 tbs butter melted and cooled
1 cup all-purpose flour
2 1/4-2 3/4 wheat flour
1 1/2 tsp salt 

Filling and egg wash
1/4 cup sugar
5 tsp cinnamon
2 tbs milk
1 large egg beaten with 2 tsp milk 

Mix together 110 degree water with yeast and honey. Allow to sit for 3-5 minutes. It should become foamy, which is how you know your yeast is activated. Whisk yeast mixture with milk, eggs, and melted butter. 
Whisk all-purpose flour, 2 1/4 cups wheat flour, and salt together. If using a stand mixer with a dough hook, place dry ingredients in bowl and slowly add milk mixture until dough forms with mixer on low. Increase mixer to medium and knead until dough smooth, around ten minutes. If kneading by hand, knead until dough is smooth and springy, around twenty minutes. Place dough in a greased bowl and cover allowing to rise until doubled, around 1 1/2 hours. 

For the filling and glaze: mix sugar and cinnamon. Grease 9 by 5 inch loaf pan. On a floured surface, roll dough out to a 18" by 8" inch rectangle. Brush dough with milk and sprinkle with cinnamon sugar. Roll dough into a cylinder and place in loaf pan, seam side down. Cover and let rise until double. About 1 1/2 hours. 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Brush egg mixture onto loaf and bake for 30 to 35 minutes. Let cool in pan for five minutes. The remove the loaf from the pan and let cool on drying rack. 

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