A person can only watch so many episodes of The West Wing. Ok, that’s not really true. I could watch back seasons all day, every day, but it wouldn’t exactly be healthy or a great use of my time. I’ve come to terms with the fact that I don’t have a lot to do until the baby is born- with the exception of painting all the guest rooms in our house, buying everything a little baby might need in its first few months of life, and learning Hebrew so I can actually function as a member of Israeli society- I’ve set my mind on filling our freezer with food that will be easy to defrost and munch on after the newest Harris addition has arrived. This would be awesome if I didn’t eat everything before it got a chance to be stored away and frozen. I managed to scrounge away a few muffins last week, but those brownies? Ya right.
Every morning I wake up with an overwhelming craving for Cinnamon-Sugar. And don’t you dare try to combine it with raisins, because for some reason I can’t stand them anymore. I’ll come around eventually, I think I might have overdosed by eating an entire batch of Raisin Bran Muffins. I was holding off the craving with a big, heart-healthy bowl of oatmeal sprinkled with a bit of cinnamon and more than a bit of brown sugar, but I can’t do it anymore. Plus I had a bowl filled with dough in the fridge just begging to be made into bread.
This recipe is adapted from Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day– the same origin of the sweet Honey Sandwich Bread. The bread dough is whipped up in the beginning of the week, refrigerated, and every day I pinch off a hunk and make something. This is the Master Recipe- and it really is. I use this same dough for Calzones, pizza, hamburger buns, garlic bread, and the ever popular rustic boule. Add a little sugar? It’s the perfect breakfast toast. As you can see from the picture, this is a less than perfect looking loaf- a bit squat if you will. I…well..rolled it the wrong way. Embarrassing, I know. But I felt that I couldn’t hold back because of my imperfections and not allow you to share in this recipe. This is the best Cinnamon bread I have ever tasted, hands down.
Master Bread Recipe from ABin5
3 cups lukewarm water
1 1/2 tablespoons instant yeast (any granulated type will do, including active dry)
1 1/2 tablespoons Kosher or Sea Salt (This is an estimate. I often only use 1 tablespoon and it’s plenty salty for me)
6 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (Start with 6 cups, and add the rest if it really seems gooey. I find that the dough works better wetter. Yes I rhymed. And was perhaps less than grammatically correct. Shoot me.)
This is the basic Master Recipe. Mix these ingredients in a large bowl with a wooden spoon. The dough will look shaggy and wet. Cover loosely and let rise in a warm place (your counter top in the summer is fine, an oven turned on and then off will suffice in the winter) for 2 hours. You can use the dough now, but it will be very sticky and hard to work with. A better option is to cover with plastic and refrigerate for at least several hours and no more than a week. When you are prepared to make your bread, sprinkle the dough with a bit of flour and grab a 1 lb hunk, or approximately the size of a small grapefruit. Form into a ball with lightly floured hands. There are now a million and different ways to use this excellent base dough you have in your hands. We’ll just talk about Cinnamon Bread for today- mainly because it smells so darn good in my kitchen right now. I knew you’d appreciate it.
For the cinnamon mixture:
1/3-1/2 cup brown sugar
1 tablespoon cinnamon
1 egg, whisked (You can substitute this with a bit of honey, cornstarch and boiling water mixed together, or about 2-3 tablespoons of Rice, Soy or real Milk. I didn’t have an egg on hand and the honey combo always works for me in a pinch)
1 tablespoon sugar
Flour the counter and roll out the dough into a large rectangle, about 1/4 of an inch thick. Sprinkle the dough completely with brown sugar and cinnamon. If you are into it you can add raisins, or chocolate, or nuts, or grasshoppers for all I care. The combinations are endless. Grease a 1 lb loaf pan well- I pour a little canola oil on the bottom and brush it completely with a basting brush. Roll up the rectangle starting from the short end so it forms a log and pinch the seam closed. Carefully transfer it to the greased loaf pan, seam side down. Allow to rise, loosely covered with plastic, for approximately an hour and a half. Brush with egg wash or other substitute and sprinkle with the remaining 1 tablespoon of sugar. Bake at 350 degrees F (176 C) for about 40 minutes. It will rise more in the oven and be a golden brown color. Let it sit for about 2 minutes on a rack, then remove the loaf from the pan so it doesn’t get overly soggy. Allow it to cool completely before cutting. I like to cut up the whole loaf and freeze it in a bag, removing pieces and toasting them at my leisure.