Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Kitchen Adventures: Cinnamon Swirl Bread

What better way to christen a new apartment, than to bake some delicious smelling cinnamon swirl bread in it?
Swirly!
After I got all of my baking stuff unpacked and put away, I decided it was time to make another dent in the Baking Illustrated 2011 Challenge.  This time I tackled the basic Cinnamon Swirl Bread.  The first step in the creation of this bread is to melt the butter into the milk and allow it to cool to the appropriate temperature.  This gives the baker time to measure out all their other ingredients and give the yeast a chance to proof. It makes me happy when I get recipes with prep time actually built in!

Butter and milk. Yes, whole milk!
Once the butter-milk (no, not buttermilk, that's something completely different!) has cooled to the appropriate temperature, the ingredients are combined and the dough is kneaded via a mixer with a dough hook for approximately 10 minutes.  I say approximately because I only use the time as a rough estimate, the best way to check on a dough is to check what I call it's "springiness factor."  The springiness factor is the response you get from the dough when you gently push it down.  If it springs back at you, then it's fully kneaded.

Mechanical kneading for the win!
I contemplated inserting a stock photograph of the first rise for this dough because the first rise picture of all my yeasted doughs looks identical. Dough ball in big round metal KitchenAid bowl. Boring!  Instead I decided to photograph the second rise of the dough which was much more interesting as the dough is now loaf shaped and already contains a cinnamon-sugar-milk swirl in the middle.  It's important to ensure that the dough is loosely covered with plastic wrap at this point. If it's covered too tightly the dough won't rise enough.

Ready to be stuck into the proofing box
(a.k.a the microwave)
I'll admit, I was a little frightened of how this bread would turn out.  I didn't actually have regular yeast on hand, only the rapid rise kind which has some obvious differences. Fortunately the back of the yeast packet had some basic instructions, and I have some rudimentary experience working with rapid rise doughs already.  I was actually pleased to see the bread came out with a decent crumb and was flavorful.  I did make a small oopsy in the creation of the swirl though. I didn't evenly distribute the cinnamon-sugar mixture. So when I sliced into the bread this morning, I found that one half didn't have more than a light trace of what may have been a swirl.

Overall I mark this recipe a success though.  If only because when I walked into a coworker's cubicle with a small bag of bread, looking to hand out some slices, he enthusiastically said yes. And the reason? Eric had already been by his cubicle earlier that morning and made the bread look so delicious while he ate it that my coworker had bread envy! :)