Well, it finally happened: I’m sick. I must say I’ve had a pretty good run: I avoided the flu that went around the office, the stomach bug that hit a few of my friends, and colds that seem to strike Brad every few weeks…but the most recent one he brought home finally nailed me. A pounding headache that’s strangely centered at the base of my skull has been clinging to me since yesterday. My neck continues to be sore despite Brad’s best messages (thanks for trying babe!) and my eyes water with the slightest glare or breeze. It’s a strange germ that’s assaulting my body these days that’s for sure, but I’m thankful it seems to be just a head-cold.
On Friday, when Brad was just beginning to get sick – and I was blissfully optimistic that I’d avoid this one too – I went to the store to get some goodies. Basket full of fruit, cheese, crackers, and…er…dark chocolate KitKats (they don’t sell them where I come from, ok?) I was on my way out when I spied an interesting sign by the bakery. The sign advertised cinnamon-swirled bread and, true enough, the loaves displayed had cute little swirls of dark brown cinnamon running through them. I was *this close* to buying one before I convinced myself that it couldn’t be all that hard to make at home (my Chocolate Babka attempt giving me courage) and I decided to give it a try.
A quick note: I adjusted this recipe to how I made it the 2nd time (just more paste) but the photos are all from the first attempt. Therefore, you should expect about double the coverage from your cinnamon-sugar paste than what you see in my photo. Also, if you aren’t concerned with dairy, substitute 2 T of melted butter for the oil in the cinnamon-sugar paste. The butter will make for a richer flavor – I used oil only because I wanted to share the bread with a friend of mine whose IBS doesn’t allow dairy products of any kind.
Vegan Cinnamon Swirl Bread
4 Cups unbleached white bread or AP flour, plus extra
1½ t instant yeast
1 t salt
1½ C water, plus extra as needed
2 T + 1 t, separated, neutral vegetable oil (like Canola) plus extra as needed
1 T cinnamon
1 T sugar
1) Combine the flour, yeast, and salt in a large bowl and whisk until well mixed. Add the water and 1 teaspoon oil and stir with your hand or a wooden spoon to made a slightly sticky dough. If the consistency is off add just a bit of flour or water – whichever is needed – at a time until you get a soft, easily kneedable, dough.
2) Turn out the dough base onto a generously floured surface to kneed until it is smooth and satiny (or, alternatively, use a stand mixer with dough-hook attachment). The dough should feel slightly springy and very soft to the touch. By hand this should take roughly 10 minutes of hearty kneeding or 5 by stand mixer.
3) Shape the dough into a ball and place into a clean, dry, and floured (or oiled if you prefer) bowl. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap or a garbage bag and let rise in the warmest area of your home until doubled in size. Depending on the temperature of the dough expect to wait around 45 min – 1 hour or longer. In the dead of winter at my old, leaky apartment I would have to wait nearly 4 hours – hurray for a modern building!
4) Once dough has risen, tip it out onto a floured surface and gently kneed a few times to pop any bubbles and redistribute the yeast. Reform into a ball and repeat step 3 up to 4 times for added flavor and texture. Once you’re satisfied with the rising process, gently roll out the dough onto your floured surface until it is about as large as a sheet of paper (8.5 x 11″) and 1″ thick. In a small bowl mix together the cinnamon, sugar, and 2 Tablespoons oil to form a thick but spreadable paste – add more oil if needed but be careful: you don’t want soggy bread! – and spread the paste over the dough using a pastry brush or spoon as evenly as possible. Beginning at one side, gently roll up the dough width-wise as tightly as you can without deforming it. Once fully rolled, carefully transfer the dough to a bread pan, cover with a clean dish cloth, and let it proof until it has doubled in size once more – about another 30 minutes. As the bread is proofing, preheat your oven to 500°F or its highest setting.
5) When the bread is ready for the oven (it should spring back into shape if gently poked and be roughly double in size), brush the surface with a bit of water – or, even better, use a spray bottle if you have one – and bake for 10 minutes. After 10 minutes adjust the oven temperature depending on the following: if the crust still looks very pale, turn the heat down to 400°F. If the crust is browning: 350°F. If the crust is browning quickly: 325°F. Bake until the crust is golden brown and the loaf sounds hollow when you tap on the bottom of the pan – 40 to 50 minutes.
6) Let the bread cool completely before removing from the pan and slicing. I know, I know, it’s hard to wait – especially with the wonderful smell! – but trust me, you’ll be glad that you did.
Well, aside from my guy teasing me that my swirl didn’t come out symmetric (and he thinks I’m the perfectionist?), I am very pleased with my spontaneous bread experiment. The first loaf turned out to be quite pretty…but really didn’t taste like anything other than fresh white bread – very nice, but not the strong cinnamon-sugar swirl I was going for. The second attempt – with a full Tablespoon of both the spice and the sugar – gave me what I wanted: soft, fluffy white bread with a sweet cinnamon swirl throughout. Excellent toasted with a bit of butter or even to spice up my all-time fav: PB&B. New recipe + money saved? Win, win.
Overall Enjoyment: ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥