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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Tartine Sourdough Bread

Well, after about 3 weeks of prepping our starter my roommate and I successfully cranked out our first 2 loaves of Tartine bread. The instructions that we followed in the book were pretty straight forward and as a novice bread baker I can say I learned a lot about how to create great dough using this book’s methods.

Also, we noticed that the second batch of loaves we were making benefited from the rise in temperature in the kitchen from running the oven while we were baking our first 2 loaves. During the day the kitchen was about 70 degrees and while baking it was near 80 degrees or so. Moral of the story, bake more delicious things during the first hour of your initial rise to kill time and help your bread along.

Here are some photos starting from the leaven state, to the first few turns, to shaping, and then all the way to the final product. All in all it took about an hour of reading, turning, and shaping from start to finish for two loaves although I doubt the time would go up much more to do four at a time. If you want to eat bread tomorrow you’d need the evening to prep you leaven followed by about 9 – 10 hours of time the next day for making the actual bread. 5 hours or so with about 30 minute intervals of turning, shaping, and prepping plus about 4 hours for the final rise and then an additional hour for pre-heating and baking. And then about 5 minutes for eating it all.

I highly recommend getting one of these bad boys, which is what I used repeatedly. It just makes life easier.

Oh, and finally, if you decide to use bread clothes like we did for the final rise, make sure you flour the crap out of them. I didn’t and we lost a bit of our dough/had to make some repairs to the loaves as they were both stuck to the towels when it came time to get them in the dutch oven. Probably going to go without protection next time as the dough by the end is easy to peel away from the bowl. Also, to provide moisture we heated a cookie sheet in the oven while we baked for about 25 minutes with the dutch oven lid on, then when we removed it to brown the crust for about another 25 minutes we poured water onto the sheet instantly creating steam. Not rocket science, but that may be a useful tip for a complete nOOb. Also, times are subjective, and differ depending on the oven, humidity, dough, etc, I take no responsibility if you burn the crap out of it.