Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Cinnamon Swirl Bread

It literally almost took the entire day to bake one loaf of bread, but it was all worth it in the end. I've never made bread before and have been dying to try it, but being limited to all purpose and cake flour, it seemed that white bread was the way to go. Since I was going to make the cinnamon bread I saw at Closet Cooking anway, I decided to make cinnamon swirl bread rather than a quick bread. The experience was a litte nerve racking because it is so easy to mess up a loaf of bread given all the different steps. I didn't have instant yeast so I used traditional. Even though the bread called for 2 1/4 tsps, I only used 1 tsp because I was afraid of that yeasty bitter taste. The recipe calls for 3 1/4 to 3 3/4 cups of flour depending on the weather, but I'm sure I used at least 4 cups and the dough was still sticky. I think the most difficult part of this entire process was all the waiting. Even though the recipe said to wait 2 -2.5 hours for the first rise, I waited 4 hours to get a nicer rise. Rolling the dough was a little tricky because it was so sticky. Luckily I placed a sheet of saran wrap on my counter first or else it would have been one deformed looking loaf! The recipe said to wait 1-1.5 hours, but I waited 2 hours before the loaf was 1 inch above the rim. Finally it was ready for the oven.

I didn't know that the slit was facing the side instead of the bottom of the pan until it unravelling in the oven. This loaf grew so quickly in the oven! It was supposed to take 30-35 minutes, but I ended up leaving it in the oven for 40 minutes. The thermometer never reached 185 degrees, but the thermometer went in easily and came out clean. Luckily I pulled it out or it would have been too dry. Just because it is bread, it should follow the same 'if the toothpick (thermometer in this case) comes out clean, it is done!' as cake.. right?... well hopefuly!

Finally, after 2 hours of cooling it was time to eat! As usual, I didn't grease the pan and the bread slid out easily. I could have devoured half the loaf myself, but knowing that 4 cups of flour went into it, I wasn't going to eat 2 cups worth of flour at 8:30pm. I think I'm going to attempt to make cinnamon rolls soon, but first I need to find one that isn't so rich and won't leave me nauseas like those cinnabons, which are definitely delicious, but o so rich!

Cinnamon Swirl Bread
Cook's Illustrated

* I rarely grease and luckily nothing sticks or gets ruined, but for those who try this recipe, it is probably safer to grease.

1/2 cup milk
4 tbsp unsalted butter, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
1 package dry active yeast (2 1/4 tsp)(I used 1 tsp of traditional yeast)
1/2 cup warm water
1/3 cup sugar
2 large eggs
1 1/2 tsp salt
3 1/4 cups all-purpose flour, plus extra

1/4 cup sugar
5 tsp ground cinnamon
Milk for brushing

1 large egg
2 tsp milk

1. Heat the milk and butter together in a small saucepan or microwave until butter melts. Cool to lukewarm.
2. Meanwhile, sprinkle yeast over warm water in a the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the paddle (I did this with half the amount of warm water and waited until the yeast mixture foamed - took about 30 mins) Beat in the sugar, eggs and mix at low speed to blend. Add the salt, lukewarm milk mixture,(I added the other half of the warm water), and 2 cups of flour; mix at medium speed until thoroughly blended, about 1 minute. Switch to dough hook. Add 1 1/4 cups more flour and knead at medium low speed, adding more flour if the dough sticks to the sides of the bowl, until the dough is smooth and comes away from the sidesw of the bowl, about 10 minutes
3. Turn the dough onto a work surface. Squeeze the dough with a clean dry hand. If the dough is sticky, knead up to 1/2 cup more flour to form a smooth, soft, elastic dough. Transfer the dough to a very lightly oiled large bowl (I just floured a bowl, without oiling)Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let the dough rise until doubled in size, 2 to 2 1/2 hours (4 hours for me)(the ideal rising temp is 75 degrees) After the rise, punch down the center of the dough once (The dough can be refrigerated, covered, for up to 18 hours). Make sure not to fold the dough, turn it onto an unfloured work surface (I lined the work surface with saran wrap to prevent sticking); let the dough rest about 10 minutes.
4. Grease the bottom and sides of a 9 by 5 inch loaf pan (I just floured without greasing) Mix the sugar and cinnamon in a small bowl.
5. Press dough into an evenly shaped 8 x 6 inch rectangle. With the short side of the dough facing you, roll the dough witha rolling pin into an evenly shaped 18 x 8 inch rectangle. Brush the dough liberally with milk. Sprinkle the filling evenly, leaving a 1/2 inch edge on the far side. Starting at the side closest to you, roll dough, pinching the dough gently with your fingertips to make sure it is tightly sealed. To keep the loaf from stretching beyond 9 inches, push the ends in occasionally with your hands as you roll the dough. Pinch the seam and both ends to seal the loaf.
6. Place the loaf seam side down in the prepared pan and lightly press to flatten. Cover the top of the pan loosely with plastic wrap and set aside to rise to 1 inch above the pan, about 1 1/2 hours (2 hours for me) Preheat oven to 350
7. Whisk the egg and milk together and gently brush the top of the loaf with the egg mixture.
8. Bake until the loaf is golden brown and an instant read thermometer inserted at an angle into the centre reaches 185-190, 30-35 minutes (40 for me). Remove the bread from the pan and cool on a wire rack before slicing, about 45 minutes.

For those who don't own a stand mixer, Two Fat Als gives instructions for kneading


  1. That bread DEFINITELY looks worth the time it took to bake - yum!

  2. Good job on venturing out and giving the bread a try, I'm sure it was worth it.

  3. Your cinnamon swirl bread looks great!! Fresh home made bread is the best! It is well worth the effort required to make it.

  4. Wow! That cinnamon swirl bread turned out really delicious-looking! Do try making the legendary UBC Cinnamon buns. I have a copy of the recipe on my blog, and compared/contrasted it to the high-fat cinnabon recipe!
    It's not rich at all and in Vancouver it has a loyal following.

  5. Mmm... I kinda want a Cinnabon right now. Even though they make me sick, just like you said. I can never finish one.

    Your bread looks great! Perfectly risen.

  6. cakebrain - thanks for the UBC recipe, I'll have to try it out soon. Hopefully it will work out like my loaf, considering I reduced the amount of yeast by more than half and just crossed my fingers it would work. It was probably why the rising of the dough took longer than the recipe (less yeast and using traditional instead of active). I'm just guessing though because bread baking is still new to me.



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