Thursday, January 27, 2011

Cinnamon Swirl Bread

Cheap Eat Challenge: Watch or join us as our family of 6 eats, or tries to, on $6/day.

So, uh, it's the end of the month and we'll be eating a lot of bread. Good thing I like bread.  Today I wanted to dress it up a bit. Oh, it was still wholesome and all, but we put some lipstick on, and a little perfume (trying to be metaphorical here--we actually put on extra butter, sugar, and cinnamon; please do not ever put make-up on your bread; thank you). Because, you know, Valentine's Day is just around the corner.

This bread was adapted from my sister's roll recipe. I made it almost entirely whole wheat, but I thought that the richer dough with the egg and milk would make for a richer bread to match the cinnamon swirly-ness. Perhaps it did. Though upon eating, I decided that this would probably work with any bread or roll dough that happens to be your favorite, so if you want to make it healthier (all whole wheat) or less so (bring on the white flour, baby), or cheaper by using a dough that doesn't require eggs or milk like this one--well, knock yourself out.

Should you have enough bread for leftovers, this makes for amazing toast or french toast, or--wow--how would it be in a bread pudding. We'll have to test that out. Except that I'm not sure we'll have over-many leftovers. Because that is the way with cinnamon swirl bread.

Cinnamon Swirl Bread
Makes 2 loafs
Prep time: 30 minutes
Cook time: 30 minutes
Wait time: 2 hours
Cost: $1.03/loaf
(whole wheat flour: .85, white flour: .14, eggs: .20, butter: .50, milk: .13, yeast: .10, sugar: .08, sugar/cinnamon mixture: .06)

Note on filling: I kept these fairly virtuous (as you may notice in the picture). I wanted to eat mine for lunch, not dessert or brunch. If you want yours more gooey melty swirly sweet, I certainly will not stop you. I might even applaud you, especially if I am invited to your brunch. Anyway, just add a lot more butter and a lot more sugar/cinnamon--I'm going to estimate that you'll want 8-10 tablespoons butter (that's 4-5 Tbsp per loaf) and 1 to 1 1/2 C of the cinnamon sugar mixture (1/2 to 3/4 C per loaf). Yes, it sounds like a lot. That's why I couldn't bring myself to do it for my lunch. A regular health nut, I am.

1 C warm water
1 C milk, warmed (not hot)
2 Tbsp yeast
1/4 C butter (you can use oil if you'd like to cheapen it a bit)
2 tsp salt
1/2 C sugar
2 eggs
4-5 C whole wheat flour
2-3 C white flour
4 Tbsp butter
6 Tbsp sugar
2 Tbsp cinnamon

Add yeast to water and milk. Add butter, salt, sugar, and eggs. Mix it up. Add 2 C whole wheat flour and mix. Add 2 more cups and mix. At this point, I let my dough rest for about 20 minutes. It will rise a bit and will, I like to believe, give you a more perfect loaf. However, if you haven't the time, you haven't the time, and all will still be well. Continue to add flour by the 1/2 C until you can't stir it anymore. Turn it out on the counter and knead, adding flour continually as it gets too sticky. (Of course, if you have a Kitchenaid or Bosch, just dump the stuff in and let it go with the dough hook for 4-6 minutes.) If you want some tips for getting your bread dough perfect, have a look over here.

Once you've got it all kneaded (it should be lovely and soft, but super tight and not too sticky to handle), put it in a bowl, cover it and let it rise till doubled (about an hour). If you want it to go slower, add less yeast at the beginning (1 Tbsp) or put it in the refrigerator. Once doubled, punch it down and separate it into two even lumps.

Using your fingers or a rolling pin, flatten the first blob into a rectangle (approximately 7 inches x 10 inches). Rub 2 Tbsp of soft butter over it and then sprinkle on your half of your sugar and cinnamon. Roll it up the short way (meaning that you want to roll it so it's 7 inches long, not 10 inches long). Pinch the dough together to seal it and pinch or tuck the ends of the dough. Repeat with the other loaf. Put them in greased bread pans (I used a 7x3 inch pan) to rise again until doubled (another 30-60 minutes).

Bake at 375 for 25-30 minutes. I did mine for 35 minutes and regretted it. Oh--it was still great, but the crust was too brown and it wasn't as perfectly perfect in every way as it would have been if I'd taken it out sooner. If you have an instant read thermometer, you want to take it out when it's 180-185 degrees.

Let sit for 10 minutes in pan and then turn it out to cool completely. Or slice it up hot and give it some more butter love and eat it baby.


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