Making Bread: A Magical Recipe for Cinnamon Swirl


(photo including said-bread.  shot from yesterday’s breakfast-in-bed, thanks to sweet husband)

Today, I’m doing a lot of bread-sharing, so while I’m celebrating with many dear people on this feast of St. Lucy, here’s a recipe I made last night for cinnamon swirl bread.

As any devoted American Girl knows, the Scandanavian way to celebrate December 13th is to don a wreath of lit candles and to serve one’s family delicious baked goods (or at least, that’s what Kirsten taught us…).

Having just recently finished a book in my favorite genre (memoir-and-recipes), and having the charge of reviewing it (therefore being totally required to make at least one recipe in it), I present Milton Brasher-Cunningham‘s “Refrigerator Rolls”-dough-with-Emily-tweaks-into-Cinnamon-Swirl-Loaf!  Viva Lucia!

Cinnamon Swirl Loaf (makes 2 generous 9×5″ loaves)

In a huge bowl combine: 4 cups warm milk, 1 cup sugar, 1 stick of butter, 1/2 cup vegetable oil and 1/2 cup water.  Once the butter is incorporated (but mixture isn’t hot), sprinkle 4 1/2 teaspoons (or 2 packages) yeast onto the liquid and let the mixture sit and foam.

Once you see the yeast working, add 8 cups of flour–a mixture of white and whole wheat gives some texture (I used 3 cups white whole-wheat and 5 white; Milton uses 7 white and 1 whole wheat).  Add the flour gradually to incorporate it well.  Cover the dough and let the it rest (I put mine on top of my warm oven) and grow till doubled–make sure you use a very large bowl!

After it has doubled in size (it always takes longer than it seems like it should–I try to forget about it rising, because there’s no such thing as leaving it to rise for too long the first time), mix in another cup of flour, 3 teaspoons salt, 2 teaspoons baking powder, and 1 teaspoon baking soda.  Cover the dough and let it rise again (at this point, I put the dough in the refrigerator–it will keep rising in there, just at a much, much slower rate).

If you’ve put the dough in the refrigerator to rise, take the dough out to warm up a few hours (even in the morning, if you’re making the bread in the afternoon or evening) before you plan to bake.  At this point, Milton makes dinner rolls or sweet rolls; I divided the dough into 2 portions, covering my counter with a generous helping of flour (this is very loose, sticky dough) and folding it just enough to make sure it wouldn’t fall apart.  Stretch out one portion into a rectangle about 9 inches by 14 inches.  Cover the face of the dough with 1/3 cup sugar, 3 tablespoons cinnamon, 2 teaspoons ground ginger, and any other spices that appeal (I also used Penzey’s Chinese Five Spice Powder), drizzle with 2 tablespoons real maple syrup.  If you would like, sprinkle the sweet filling with 3/4 cup chopped walnuts, and then carefully roll the dough, using a short end as your starting point.  Once you have rolled the dough up, drop it into a sprayed 9×5″ baking pan with the seam down.  Repeat with the other portion.

Let the bread rise while the oven heats up to 425 degrees, about an hour, and then bake the loaves for 40-55 minutes, until brown and hollow-sounding.  Let cool and enjoy!