Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Busy Cooking: Homemade Cinnamon Swirl Bread

The kids are back in school for the first time in two weeks- are you looking for something to do with all your free time?  Me neither!  But, this bread is so delicious, it's hard to resist making a couple loaves during the day.   How nice would it be for the kids to walk in the door to the smell of fresh baked cinnamon bread?  I used to love walking in the door from school to the smell of a nice hot snack.

Now that winter is upon us, snow days aren't far off.  This bread makes delicious french toast, which is perfect to serve for breakfast on those days off.  Want to know a secret?  You can make the french toast ahead of time, let it cool to room temp, freeze it in ziploc bags, and have it already to serve on those mornings you just don't have time to whip up a hot breakfast (for them or you).  You just pop the slices right into the toaster from the freezer and you are good to go.  My toaster is Japanese, so I keep it on the lowest power and one (sometimes two pushes down) is good.

Another awesome thing about this bread is that you can take it out of the oven, cool it to room temp, slice it, and then freeze it.  It goes from freezer to toaster as normal toast, then you don't have to worry about eating the whole loaf in two days before it starts to get stale.  If you're a busy mom like me, something like this is priceless- delicious hot cinnamon toast for breakfast (everyday!!).
Good bye pepperidge farm, hello homemade!

Cinnamon Swirl Bread:

Oven: 350'

1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup light brown sugar
4 tsp ground cinnamon
1 1/4 cup warm whole milk (I admit, I used 1%)
3 TBSP unsalted butter, melted, cooled
2 egg yolks
3 1/2 - 4 cups all-purpose flour
2 1/4 tsp yeast (1 packet)
1 1/2 tsp salt

1) Mix sugar, brown sugar, and cinnamon together in small bowl.  Set 2 TBSP aside in small bowl for topping later.

2) In another bowl, whisk together milk, egg yolks, and melted butter.

3) In bowl of mixer, mix 3 1/2 cup flour, yeast, salt, and 1/4 cup cinnamon sugar mixture together with dough hook.  With mixer on low, add in milk mixture and mix about 2 minutes, until dough comes together.

4) Increase speed to medium-low and knead for about 8 minutes.  Dough should be smooth and elastic. If dough is sticky, add additional flour 2 TBSP at a time until dough is smooth.  It may appear to be sticking to the bottom, but should clear the sides of the bowl.

5) Place dough in a greased bowl and cover with plastic wrap.  Let it rise in a warm place until doubled in size, about 1-2 hours.

6) Place dough on lightly floured counter.  Press into a 20x8 inch rectangle, with the short side facing you.  Spray the dough lightly with water (I got a pastry brush, dipped it in water, and flicked the water onto the dough until is was just moist).  Sprinkle the remaining cinnamon sugar on top, leaving a 1/2 inch border all the way around the rectangle. Spray or flick water lightly on to the top of the cinnamon sugar, so it is very lightly moistened.

7) Roll the dough with your hands on the short side, into a tight cylinder (the tighter it is, the less likely you will see gaps in the swirl when you cut the bread).  Pinch the seam closed with your fingers.
8) Grease a 9x5 loaf pan.  Place the dough seam down into the pan.  I usually keep the pan on the counter and use it as a measuring guide when forming the dough into the cylinder.

9) Cover with plastic wrap and let rise until doubled in size 45-75 minutes.  Preheat the oven to 350.

10) Lightly brush the top of the dough with some melted butter and sprinkle the 2 TBSP cinnamon sugar you had set aside on top now.  Bake 40-60 minutes.  If you have a thermometer, the internal temperature of 190' indicates a perfectly cooked loaf.

11) Remove from oven, cool 10 minutes, remove loaf from pan, and let cool on a wire rack.

Source:  America's Test Kitchen Family Baking Book

This would go great with a nice cup of hot cocoa!

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