A couple of weeks ago I decided I wanted to tackle bread making. I’ve been researching beginner baking books and ordered a few that should come this weekend. Last night, I had a serious case of cabin fever and was dreaming up plains of being becoming a master bread maker. I was flipping through Baking: From My Home to Yours by Dorie Greenspan and spotted a Cinnamon Swirl Bread recipe. I’ve made quite a number of the recipes from the book with great success so I decided to give the bread a shot. Baking bread is a long process. But I realized the process is just a series of steps that don’t involve a lot of hands on time. If you plan ahead making homemade bread can be quite easy. I sound like an expert after only making one loaf. I’m sure my tune will change once I get to baguettes and croissants.
Below the recipe from Baking: From My Home to Yours. So yummy, warm, sweet, and heavenly. The base is similar to brioche. I choose to include the optional ingredients. The orange zest brings some brightness to the bread that I really enjoy. Have fun!
For The Bread
1 packet active dry yeast
¼ cup sugar, plus a pinch
1 ¼ cups just-warm-to-the-touch whole milk
½ stick (4 tablespoons) unsalted, at room temperature
¾ teaspoon salt
1 large egg
¼ teaspoon pure vanilla extract (optional)
Grated zest of ½ orange (optional)
Pinch of grated nutmeg
3 ¾ to 4 cups all-purpose flour
To Make The Bread: Put the yeast in a small bowl, toss in the pinch of sugar and stir in ¼ cup of the warm milk. Let rest for 3 minutes, then stir—the yeast may not have dissolved completely and it may not have bubbled, but it should be soft.
Working with a stand mixer, preferably fitted with a paddle attachment, combine the remaining 1 cup milk, butter and the remaining ¼ cup sugar and mix on low speed for a minute or two. Add the salt, egg, and vanilla, if you are using it, as well as the zest and nutmeg, if your using them, and mix for a minute. In all likelihood, the mixture will look unpleasantly curdly (it will look worse when you add the yeast). Add the yeast mixture and beat on medium-low speed for 1 minute more.
Turn the mixer off and add 2 ¾ cups of the flour. Mix on low speed just until you work the flour into the liquids—you’ll have a sticky mix. If you’ve got a dough hook, switch to it now. Add another 1 cup of flour, increase the mixer speed to medium and beat the dough for a couple of minutes. If the dough does not come together and almost clean the sides of the bowl, add up to ¼ cup more flour, 1 tablespoon at a time. Keep the mixer at medium and knead the dough for about 3 minutes, or until it is smooth and has a lovely buttery sheen. The dough will be very soft, much to soft to knead by hand.
Butter a larger bowl, turn the dough into the bowl and cover the bowl tightly with plastic wrap. Put the bowl in a warm place and let the dough rise until it is doubled in size, about 1 1/2 hours.
Scrape the dough onto a large piece of plastic wrap, wrap it and put it in the freezer for 30 minutes or firm enough to be rolled easily. (At this point, you can instead refrigerate the dough overnight it that is more convenient.)
For The Swirl
1 tablespoon sugar
2 teaspoons grounded cinnamon
2 teaspoons unsweetened cocoa powder (optional)
1 cup moist, plump raisins (dark or golden)
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened to a spreadable consistency
To Make The Swirl And Shape The Loaf: Butter a 9-x-5-inch loaf pan. Whisk together the sugar, cinnamon, and cocoa, if your using it. Check that the raisins are nice and moist; if they are not, steam them for a minute, then dry them well.
Put the dough on a large work surface lightly dusted with flour, lightly dust the top of the dough and roll the dough into a rectangle about 12 x 18 inches.
Gently smear 2 tablespoons of the butter over the surface of the dough—this is the most easily done with your fingers. Sprinkle over the sugar mixture and scatter over the raisins. Starting from the short side of the dough, roll the dough up jellyroll fashion, making sure to roll the dough snugly. Fit the dough into the buttered pan, seam side down, and tuck the ends under the loaf.
Cover the pan loosely with the wax paper and set in a warm place; let the dough rise until it comes just a little above the edge of the pan, about 45 minutes.
Getting Ready To Bake: When the dough has almost fully risen, center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment or a silicone mat.
Melt the remaining butter, and brush the top of the loaf with the butter. Put the pan on the baking sheet and bake bread for 20 minutes. Cover loosely with a foil tent and bake for another 25 minutes or so, until the bread is golden and sounds hollow when the bottom of the pan is tapped. Transfer the pan to a rack and cool for 5 minutes, then unmold. Invert the bread and cool to room temperature right side up on the rack.