Monday 13 May 2013

Cinnamon Loaf

After using up the last of the homemade bread from the freezer, I decided to make another batch.  I tend to throw bread together without much thought and, although it's always tasty, I have yet to master the art as I don't have the patience to practice the many techniques required for perfect bread baking.  Nevertheless, my family, friends and I have enjoyed many a fresh loaf from the oven!

My original plan was to make a sandwich style loaf (rather than baguettes which I most commonly bake), and I thought some of the leftover egg yolks in the fridge might add some richness as I had no milk.  I had already added honey, then realized once I put some butter into the mix I'd have a brioche-type dough (though not nearly as much butter and eggs as a traditional brioche).  To make it a bit more decadent, I added a sugar-cinnamon mix in the middle.  So here is my version of a cinnamon sort-of-brioche!

I will offer one more caveat about my bread-baking skills which affects the recipe.  I never have any idea how much flour I put in!  Anyone who has made bread by hand will know that the amount of flour depends very much on the humidity, the type of flour, the amounts of liquid and fats in the dough, height and weight of the individual kneading - I mean seriously, there is a lot involved!  I start with a bit, and just keep adding until it seems right, and I've never quite managed to measure it properly.  So ... I suggest starting with about 3 cups, then add as needed.  And it is always surprising how much more flour gets added during the kneading process.  If you have never made bread before, I highly recommend checking out a website that offers tips for beginners - it is a lot of fun and can be very rewarding once you have it figured out.

2 cups lukewarm water
2 tsp quick-rise yeast
1 Tbsp honey
4 egg yolks
1/2 cup butter, softened
2 tsp salt
5+ cups flour (I used about 1/3 all-purpose and 2/3 nutrigrain flour)
2/3 cup brown sugar
1 Tbsp cinnamon
Egg wash (optional)

Recipe fits one 9" loaf pan.

Add water, yeast and honey into a large bowl.  Let stand a few minutes.  Mix in egg yolks, melted (but cool) butter and salt.  Slowly add flour, stirring with a wooden spoon until a thick dough begins to form.  Place dough onto a floured surface and knead until dough is firm, but springs back when pressed on.  Proof until dough has doubled in size in a slightly cooler area than you would normally proof - this is to keep the butter from melting.

Roll out dough to approximately 12" x 9".  Sift the brown sugar and cinnamon together and keep a Tbsp aside if you want some for the of the loaf.  Sprinkle the rest over the rolled out dough, leaving an edge to ensure the bread can seal.

Roll up your dough, seal at the sides, then place sealed side down in a buttered loaf pan.

Allow to rise until risen 1 inch or so above the edge of the pan.  Brush with an egg-wash and sprinkle with some of the sugar-cinnamon mixture that was reserved earlier (this step is optional).

Bake approximately 30 minutes at 350 degrees F (to check if loaf is done, remove from pan and tap on the bottom - it should sound hollow when ready).  Remove from pan and allow to fully cool before slicing.

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