Late night cinnamon bread
When I say late night, I do mean late. This bread was a lovely after thought in a long day full of exhausting jury duty: when faced with difficult decisions I want to a.) bake and b.) eat sweet things (along with get a massage, read fiction novels, and talk to my fiance not necessarily in that order). Terms and ideas like “innocent until proven guilty” and “reasonable doubt” melt happily away while eating lovely lovely warm cinnamon bread at 12:30 AM in my kitchen by myself. Maybe I’m crazy but I like to think that this bread made the next-day deliberations a little more pleasant for the rest of the jurors too.
This bread is basically a beautiful bread/cinnamon roll hybrid. It’s perfect to eat with a big cup of coffee (or dunk in a big cup of coffee) because it’s not drippy or particularly sticky. I will warn you, however, that its deceivingly easy to eat more than half of a loaf by yourself in the span of twenty minutes, especially if you’re watching your favorite sappy movie at the same time (which, yes, I was). The recipe calls for a half cup of either buttermilk or whole milk, I chose instead to use heavy whipping cream and it was AWESOME. Jason and I have begun to exclusively buy our milk and whipping cream from the Snowville Creamery folks whose dairy farm is located in Pomeroy, Ohio (about 3 hours from Cincinnati). The milk is not homogenized so the yummy cream rises to the top and tastes like heaven on cereal in the morning. Needless to say it also adds an extra special something to baked goods. I use unsalted, sweet cream butter which (I think) gives the cinnamon flavor an extra layer, and an extra step away from bread and a step towards cinnamon roll land.
As I’ve said before, I love ingredients. Eggs, flour, milk, honey, the more locally bought the better (I’m just really intense about freshness). Megan and I walked to the Northside Farmers Market yesterday for the first time since it moved inside for the winter. While I’m glad that the market found a warm place to exist during the cold months, being there yesterday made me realize how much I can’t wait for spring and the re-emergence of the local Farmers Market to its original space outside. There is just something about being in the open air buying eggs from a man who explains the exact what and how of jumbo eggs in relation to his own chickens that warms my soul. Or something like that.
* Recipe from awesome food blog Bella Eats *
makes two 1-1/2 pound loaves
- 1/2 cup buttermilk (or whole milk), at room temperature – I chose to use heavy whipping cream
- 2 tbsp honey
- 3-1/2 cups unbleached bread flour, plus extra
- 1-1/4 tsp salt
- 2 tsp instant yeast – I only had dry active yeast, and as long as you activate it correctly it works perfectly. Make sure to subtract the amount of water used in the activation process from the total amount of water needed in the recipe!
- 1-1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1 large egg, slightly beaten
- 2 tbsp vegetable shortening, at room temperature – I substituted softened butter
- 3/4 cup water, at room temperature
- 1 cup dried figs, chopped, optional
- 1 cup walnuts, chopped, optional
- 1/2 cup turbinado sugar (for cinnamon sugar swirl) – I used granulated white sugar
- 2 tbsp ground cinnamon (for cinnamon sugar swirl) – I used 1 tbsp instead of 2
- 2 tbsp butter, melted
- Dissolve the honey in the buttermilk by heating both over low heat. Allow to cool to room temperature.
- Sift together the flour, salt, yeast and cinnamon in a large mixing bowl.
- Add the egg, shortening, buttermilk mixture and water. Stir together with a large spoon (or mix on low-speed in a stand mixer with the paddle attachment) until the ingredients come together and form a ball. Adjust with flour and water if the dough seems too sticky or too dry and stiff. You will most likely need to add a little bit of water.
- Sprinkle flour on a counter and transfer the dough to the counter. Knead (or mix on medium speed with the dough hook). The dough should be soft and pliable, not sticky. Add flour as you knead (or mix), if necessary to achieve this texture. Knead by hand for approximately 10 minutes (or by machine for 6 to 8 minutes).
- Sprinkle in the figs and walnuts during the final 2 minutes of kneading (or mixing) to distribute them evenly. If you are kneading with a mixer, you’ll want to finish kneading by hand to avoid crushing the figs and walnuts, and to be sure to distribute them evenly.
- Lightly oil a large glass or metal bowl and transfer the dough to the bowl, rolling it to coat it with oil. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and allow to ferment at room temperature for approximately 2 hours, or until the dough doubles in size. I only allowed my dough to rise for 1 hour and encountered no problems.
- Mix together the 1/2 cup turbinado sugar and 2 tbsp ground cinnamon. Set aside.
- Butter two 4×8 loaf pans.
- Divide the dough into 2 equal pieces. On a lightly floured surface, roll one piece into a 5×8 rectangle. Sprinkle half of the cinnamon sugar mixture over the dough, leaving a small border around the edge of the dough.
- Starting at the short end, carefully roll the dough into a tight log, sealing the seam as best you can. Tuck the ends up towards the seam, sealing as best you can. Place the log in a buttered loaf pan, seam-side down. Repeat with the second piece of dough. Spray the tops of the loaves with spray oil and cover loosely with plastic wrap. Place in a warm, draft-free location to proof for 60 to 90 minutes. I did not let my loaf proof.
- Preheat the oven to 350* with the rack in the middle of the oven. Uncover the loaves and brush the tops with melted butter. Sprinkle the tops with turbinado sugar.
- Bake the loaves for 20 minutes. Rotate the loaf pans 180 degrees and continue baking for another 20 to 30 minutes, until the loaves are golden brown on top and lightly golden on the sides and bottom. They should make a hollow sound when thumped on the bottom.
- Enjoy warm + a glass of milk by yourself, or with the jury you’re currently spending 7 hours a day with.