Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Cinnamon Swirl Bread

 I've been rediscovering the joy of baking bread.  A few weeks ago I started making focaccia, which was eaten very quickly.  Then the other day I was flipping through the recent issue of Cook's Illustrated and read an article on perfecting cinnamon bread.  I think that Cook's Illustrated has some very interesting ideas but find their processes fussy.  Their premise was that one can make a cinnamon bread at home that doesn't have the big gaping holes that occur where the cinnamon filling meets the bread dough.  I wondered if one could achieve a similar effect using a pullman loaf pan.  So I tried it.  I made a challah dough using the recipe from The Bread Baker's Apprentice by Peter Reinhart, which I tweaked just a bit by using regular yeast instead of the instant yeast called for and allowed for longer rising times.

Here is the dough before it's first rise. Challah is a very forgiving dough.  Plus it is super simple to make in a stand mixer.  It has a lovely pale yellow color due to the eggs and egg yolks in the dough, which according to Peter Reinhart was probably a way to use up excess eggs before the Sabbath made it impossible to harvest new eggs. It also has a very small amount of oil in it; I used a lovely pale green grapeseed oil.  I let it rise twice in the bowl.
Then I patted it into something that resembles a rectangle and let it rest under a towel for about 10 minutes.  Then I rolled it out into an even larger rectangle, really it was more like a parallelogram, which really didn't matter much to me since I was going to roll it up jelly roll style.  Then I brushed it with a small amount of melted butter, spread cinnamon sugar over the surface, rolled it up, tucked under the ends and put it in a lightly oiled pullman loaf pan.

A pullman loaf pan has a lid and makes a loaf with a flat, rather than rounded, top.  It also doesn't allow much of a crust to develop so that it is easy to make crustless finger  sandwiches with bread baked in one.  But, my quest was for a cinnamon swirl bread that didn't have a bunch of giant holes in it.

I put the cover on most of the way--I left it open about 1/2-inch and let it rise until it was about 3/4 of the way up the sides of the pan.  I closed the lid the rest of the way and put it in a 350F oven to bake for about 50 minutes.

 Here is the loaf as it came out of the pan.  The filling leaked just a bit but not so much that the pan had gooey filling all over it.  So I considered that a success.  Of course, the real telling was when I cut into the loaf.  There were some holes where the filling and dough did not stick together.  But wasn't not so bad that the slices didn't hold together.  I put two slices in the toaster this morning, which maintained their shape.  Again, I think this is a success.

Oh, and the toast was very lovely.  This is an experiment worth repeating.


Laura Neal said...

That looks fabulous! Great job.

Anonymous said...

The secret to eliminating the gap - brush the dough with milk rather than butter, thensprinkle on he cinnamon sugar mix (add a little flour for insurance). The dough will bind to itself with milk, rather than slide away with butter. No special pan required.