Poppy Seed Cinnamon Swirl Bread

This morning I baked two loaves of Cinnamon Swirl Bread which turned out awesome and tasted even better. For those of you who aren’t aware, this stuff has characteristics of bread mixed with the sugary goodness of a cinnamon bun, making it tough to go wrong. During my previous attempt I used a recipe that worked alright but was drier than I would have preferred. This time I found a new recipe that worked much better. I recently picked up a big container of poppy seeds from the Italian Center with the goal of incorporating it into more of the baking I do. Where I’m from in Medicine Hat, you can often purchase Poppy Seed bread from the local Hutterites which tastes amazing. That memory was my inspiration for giving this a go. The recipe is super easy and is a great confidence booster for getting more creative with your baking.

The finished product.

Anyways, the ingredients are pretty standard:

4 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup white sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 (.25 ounce == 1.5 tsp ) envelope active dry yeast
1 egg
1/4 cup melted butter
1 1/4 cups warm milk (110 degrees F/45 degrees C)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
melted butter for brushing
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Optional:
1/2 cup of poppy seeds

You could probably add raisins as well, although I’m not a huge fan.

Kneading

After experimenting a great deal with Tartine bread making I’ve adapted their final shaping technique for kneading purposes. It not only works the dough to increase gluten development, but aerates it as well making the dough nice and fluffy. Anyway, once you’ve thoroughly mixed your bread dough in step 1, you’ll have the need to knead. How I do it:

-Press down the dough into a thick pancake, or square, like shape

-Grab the 1/3 of dough nearest you, stretch it towards yourself and fold over the middle 1/3 of the dough

-Grab the left 1/3 of the dough, stretch away from the loaf, and then fold over the middle 1/3 so only the right 1/3 is uncovered

-Repeat with the right 1/3

-Finally, repeat with the “top”(furthest 1/3 of the dough)

-You should now have a nice “package”, flip the loaf over so that it looks like a round ball, and press down into the same shape you began with

Repeat this until the dough becomes really solid and hard to stretch. I think I repeated this process about  4 – 5 times before it seemed really good.

The “Filling”

Instead of brushing the melted butter over the rectangles you’ve made and then sprinkling with brown sugar, I left the melted butter in a measuring cup and continued adding brown sugar to it until it was a nice thick paste. Once you have that, you can then add in the cinnamon, mixing and tasting until you have the right combination you desire. Finally you can add your poppy seed to the mixture so that the bread innards can all be applied in one shot. I found this a much more consistent way of making sure that it gets distributed properly. Furthermore since it was in more of a liquid form, the bread seemed to absorb a lot more of the flavor. Once you’ve got that, then its as simple as spreading your mixture evenly like a spread over your two loaves.

Directions

  1. Place flour, white sugar, salt, and yeast into the bowl of a stand mixer. In a bowl, whisk together egg, melted butter, warm milk, and vanilla extract; pour into the flour mixture. Using dough hook attachment, mix on low until the flour is moistened and a dough forms, then increase speed to medium, and continue kneading until smooth and elastic, 4 to 5 minutes.
  2. Place dough into a greased bowl, cover, and allow to rise in a warm place until doubled in bulk, about 1 1/2 hours.
  3. Punch down dough, turn out onto a floured work surface, and divide into 2 equal pieces. Roll each piece into a 1/3 inch thick rectangle. Brush each square with melted butter. Mix together cinnamon and brown sugar in a small bowl, then sprinkle evenly over the two rectangles.
  4. Roll each firmly into a log, pinch the ends closed, and tuck them underneath. Place each into a greased, glass loaf pan. Cover, and allow to rise in a warm place until doubled in bulk, about 45 minutes.
  5. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
  6. Brush the tops of the loaves with melted butter(This adds a bunch of flavor, don’t skip), then bake in preheated oven until loaves are golden brown, and sound hollow when tapped, about 30 minutes.

2012-12-17 23.11.28

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The Next Gen and the Environment(A Letter To My MP)

This is perhaps my longest post to date, but is one of the few I really care about and hope you’ll take the time to read. I don’t claim to be the most politically involved person, far from it. But I can no longer ignore the fact that we, after a relatively short stint of existence as a species, have already managed to “Fuck Up” the Earth quite badly. After tomorrow, if all things go well, I will be spending a year of my life completing a paid internship with a really cool company. I view this year as an opportunity to not only develop the skills I will need to become an entrepreneur in the future, but also as an opportunity to reflect on who I am and continue the evolution of who I hope to become in my lifetime.

This next year will be an opportunity to spend time doing things I’ve always shrugged off as requiring more time, more money, or more will power to do. As the first act of this, I am making it my goal to not only be better informed about our changing climate but to actually do something about it. Today I received from the Green Party of Canada stating:

“On December 15th, Canada’s withdrawal from the Kyoto Protocol will take legal effect. Canada will be the only nation out of more than 180 to legally exit the protocol. It is the first treaty in the history of Canada that we have ever ratified and then repudiated and quit. This decision threatens Canada’s standing in the world and, more importantly, our children’s future.

Please take a moment now to write your MP, and let them know that Canada’s environment and the world’s future is important to you and your children.”

While I was already quite aware of this, which resulted in me signing up in the mailing list in the first place, I actually decided to man up, and took the time to write Linda Duncan an email as a very minuscule step towards accomplishing my first resolution. I know it’s going to take much more than an email to make a difference, and I plan on writing about what I else I plan to do and will be carrying out in the coming year.

Nevertheless, I highly encourage all of you to do the same if you agree with what I’ve stated below. I think it’s time we all start voicing our opinion on the matter. For the most part, when it comes down to it I know all of you care about the environment. Whether it’s to camp, snowboard, hunt, or whatever else your prerogative is, we all love the outdoors. I really don’t care if you recycle bits, or even all of this email, just please take the time to send a message to your MP:

Dear Linda,

As a university student in the middle of studying for final examinations, I find it deeply frustrating that while I should be spending time preparing for my test tomorrow, I am writing my first ever email to my Member of Parliament over a topic that I would have believed Canada of all countries would be smart enough to concern ourselves with.

As you are no doubt aware, Canada will become the first and only country out of over 180 participants to both ratify and repudiate the Kyoto Accord on December 15th. I understand that as an Albertan, we receive great benefit from the Oil Sands located here. We have a vibrant economy, and many of the jobs created in my own future line of work as a Computer Scientist will be the result of our province’s ability to extract and refine oil products.

That being said, I also find it deeply alarming that despite the massive repercussions scientists have not only predicted, but shown direct evidence of, we still have found a way to ignore the harmful effects we are causing our own environment.

While we may not be the greatest producer of green house gasses, emissions, or toxic chemicals, it is our responsibility to set an example as a country that claims to be both educated and economically dependent on our natural resources for both tourism and the production of manufactured goods, sources of food, and raw materials.

Furthermore, I find it increasingly alarming that as a 21 year old male who should be living a carefree lifestyle and enjoying my youth, I am instead being forced to take action now in thought of not only the children I, my classmates, and my friends, may not even consider having in this current decade, but also my grand children and beyond. Mean while, “wise” adults that we entrust and pay handsomely to represent current and future Canadians that preach respect, a tradition of leadership, and looking out for not only Canadians but everyone on this earth cannot even be bothered to ensure that I will not see my home town of Medicine Hat Alberta become a drought stricken desert by the time I’m old and grey as a result of our ignorance towards the changing climate we have helped create.

There is no doubt about it, my peers and I are the most intelligent, informed, and connected generations to have walked this earth although we don’t always show it. The vast majority of us have accepted that everyone is unique, gay marriage isn’t a big deal, equal rights for all ethnicities and both genders isn’t a privilege, it’s a right, and that we are willing to make some sacrifices to ensure that we do not do irreparable damage to the world we live in. Whether that means increasing our own income taxes, imposing additional charges on unsustainable goods and services, or better yet focusing on not only reducing, but eliminating the need to create harmful emissions, I think I speak on behalf of everyone when I say we are willing to help make that happen and support these tough changes if it means a future filled with more Ozone.

As a triathlete, a distance runner, a cyclist, and a cross country skier I enjoy having four seasons and even the experience of a bitter winter that Edmonton often imposes upon us. I spend the majority of my free time enjoying the outdoors and don’t want that to change.

Earlier this month I made my first ever political affiliation with the Green Party as a result of Canada’s actions, or lack thereof, as a player in reversing what we’ve already done to our global climate. Moreover, this email is being written as a direct result of the plea that was waiting for me in my inbox to contact my MP on this topic this evening.

The older I get the more I have begun to realize that standing idly by waiting for that dream job to present itself, the love of your life to fall into your arms, and someone to take care of our climate just isn’t going to happen. Our generation is willing to make a change, I hope that’s clear. We just need direction and a little shove to get us going.

For that reason, I look forward to your response, offering insight as to what my peers and I can do to make a difference and help make climate change a larger priority not only with your party, but for all Canadians.

Regards,

Derek Dowling

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Finally, if you have any suggestions, or comments, feel free to leave a message below on what we can be doing, or things we should be aware of in an effort to impact Canada’s efforts on Global Warming.