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.
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
1/4 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
1/2 cup of poppy seeds
You could probably add raisins as well, although I’m not a huge fan.
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.
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.
- 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.
- Place dough into a greased bowl, cover, and allow to rise in a warm place until doubled in bulk, about 1 1/2 hours.
- 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.
- 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.
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
- 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.