I love recipes and I love cooking. Let me spill the beans now. It is not in my nature to use a mixer. There, I said it. I have this thing for mixing everything – by hand. Unless I flat out have electrically mix (like for buttercream icing or meringues), I do anything to work around it.
Naturally, I fell in love with the cookbook, Baking by Hand by Andy and Jackie King of A&J King Artisan Bakery in Salem, MA.
Recently we have been getting the most phenomenal breads from our CSA bread share. Foccacia, Pumpkin Seed Sourdough, I am talking phenomenal. There are only two problems.
1. I can’t give them to H because of cross contamination with some of the ingredients that may have been manufactured with peanuts.
2. This delicious bread barely lasts a full day in our house:)
Baking bread is something that has always daunted me. I own a bread machine and for as many other homemade foods that I make, I just assumed that if I were to bake bread, it would always be in that. Heck, I couldn’t do this!
Reading Baking By Hand was a breath of fresh air.
I love a good love story and the story of Andy and Jackie and how this book and their life came to be, while short, sweet, and to the point in the book, is just that.
Andy walks you through the important tools, the necessities. I have always heard from true bakers that a digital scale is a necessity. Reading this book tipped me over the edge. It has entered my holiday list. No more using the gigantic baby scale that we have still hanging around. And then there are the flours, oh the flours. A book not for the ultra beginner, though if you are a dedicated beginner, it is most likely the perfect inspiration. You need to be dedicated to learning the craft of bread baking.
I got to try out the theories that I learned after reading by making something that my family loves, Cinnamon Swirl Bread. C and I especially, it is certainly one of our favorite things to eat in the morning for breakfast. As I walked through the recipe on a chilly fall day (perfect bread making weather), I referred to many of the techniques talked about in the intro of the book. As an ultra beginner as far as bread making goes, I was able to understand . The book was worded perfectly. On the flip side, there is so much to learn from Jackie and Andy and so I know that an experienced bread maker would have just as much fun. In fact, I will be trying that theory out on Chris, the bread maker at the farm.
There are so many recipes in this book that caught my eye that I can’t wait to try. Poached Garlic Sourdough. Brown Ale and Barley Bread. Focaccia. Drooling yet?
Best part about all of this? I get to share the recipe for Cinnamon Swirl Bread with all of you! The yield on this bread is amazing. Two large loaves that are worth every second of your time. I used them for toast and some french toast. Delish!
Cinnamon Swirl Bread
Make a Toast!
This is a classic pan loaf that just gets better when toasted and spread with butter or used for French toast. There are a few keys to making this loaf perfectly: You need to steam the milk to denature the proteins that inhibit the bread rising (that’s the boring one), you need to use ice instead of water to cool the milk down, and you only need to fold the dough once rather than the usual three or four times so as not to build too much strength into the dough. You will be rolling it up tight, after all, and you don’t want the layers to separate. The final key? Lots and lots of cinnamon sugar.
Yield: Two 5 x 9-inch pan loaves
Desired Dough Temperature: 85˚F
Mixing Time: 40 minutes
Bulk Fermentation: ~2 hours
Proofing Time: ~2 hours
Baking Time: ~25 minutes
Cooling Time: ~15 minutes
1 lb 12.75 oz white bread flour
3.75 oz granulated sugar
6.5 oz whole milk
6.5 oz ice
6 oz large eggs
3.25 oz unsalted butter, melted
17 g / 2.5 tsp fine sea salt
8 g / 2 tsp instant yeast
1/3 cup each ground cinnamon and granulated sugar, mixed together
Combine your flour and sugar in your large mixing bowl. Warm your milk in a pan on the stove or in the microwave until it is steaming, and the combine with the ice to make a (relatively) room temperature liquid. Add the eggs and melted butter, and swish the mixture around with your hand to mix it up and making sure to break all of the yolks. Then, dump your flour and sugar on top of the liquid ingredients, and mix it by hand for about 30 seconds until it comes together in a shaggy mass. Don’t forget to scrape the bottom and sides of the bowl regularly; you want all of that flour hydrated and don’t want to see any dry spots. Set aside in a warm place, at least 80˚F, for 30 minutes. Sprinkle the salt and yeast on top of the dough, which will have developed a good deal of strength by now. Grab a four-finger pinch of the dough and pull. It should stretch out like chunky taffy rather than just tear off. Incorporate the salt and yeast into the dough while continuously pushing the sides of the dough into the middle while turning the bowl.
After a minute of this, the dough should be pulling away from the sides of the bowl and developing a bit of a sheen, and you shouldn’t feel any crunchy salt crystals. Cover the bowl, and put it in your warm place for 1 hour. Turn your dough onto a lightly floured surface and give it your four-fold by gently patting it out, folding the left side into the middle, the right side overlapping the left, the top into the middle, and finally the bottom overlapping the top. The fold will happen just once. You’re actually looking to just build a little strength into the dough here, not a whole lot. You are going to be rolling a layer of cinnamon sugar for the final shape, and you don’t want to create so much strength that the layers separate when popped in the oven. It’s one of the rare occurrences when you’re trying to really hold back the gluten development. So, after the fold, wait another hour and if your kitchen’s at a nice warm temperature, you’re now ready to divide.
Turn the dough out onto your floured work surface; it should be a little sloppy. Using your bench knife and scale, divide into two 1 lb 12 oz pieces. Gently pre-shape the dough into loose 8- to 10-inch cylinders, and cover with cloth or plastic so they can relax for the final shaping. This will take about 1 hour. When the pieces are relaxed enough where you can pat them out and when won’t go springing back, they’re ready to shape. Orient the piece of dough so that the skinnier ends are up and down on your work surface, and pat out with your hands until they’re about 1/4 inch thick. Spray the surface of the dough down with water, and, leaving a 1/2-inch rim around the perimeter (you’ll need those clean edges to seal the perimeter shut when you’re done shaping), sprinkle a layer of cinnamon sugar on the dough so that you can’t see the dough underneath, but no more. This should be about 1/3 cup per loaf. Starting at the end of the dough closest to you, roll the dough up – but don’t just fold it over itself. Stretch some tension into the surface of the dough, and when you get to the end, pinch the seam shut so that you have a nice, tight cylinder with a smooth surface.
Place the shaped loaves in oiled 5 x9-inch loaf pans, and cover with a cloth. While your dough is proofing, place your baking stone on the lowest rack in your oven, and your cast-iron pan on the highest rack. Preheat the oven to 400˚F. Check in on your bread periodically; if the surface feels dried out, spray it with a bit of water to allow for maximum expansion. If it feels cold, make it warmer. This may take up to 2 hours depending on the conditions of your kitchen; remember, proof to a result, not a time. If it doesn’t feel ready to bake, it probably isn’t. The loaf is ready to go in when the dome of the loaf has risen about 2 inches above the lip of the pan.
Spray the surface of the loaves one last time with a few spritzes of water, and slide them on to your baking stone. Now grab three ice cubes from the freezer. Being careful not to keep the oven door open too long and let the heat out, open the oven, slide your loaf onto the stone, throw the three ice cubes into the cast-iron pan, and close the door. After 5 minutes, quickly open the door and spray the interior of the oven with water. Continue baking until the loaf is an even golden brown, about 25 minutes. Remove the loaves from the pans immediately and place on a cooling rack for at least 30 minutes before cutting. If the sides and bottom seem too light after removing the pans, feel free to place them back in the oven for five minutes to firm up the crust.
Recipe from Baking By Hand by Andy King and Jackie King (Page Street Publishing; August 2013) Printed with permission.
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