Monday. Day One. I am bored. I am SO bored that even the lure of a busy work day cannot stem the tedium I feel from being locked up.
I decide to bake, REALLY bake this week. I check my stores of flour and sugar in the garage, safely stored in cool, clean coolers. I have not been baking enough, clearly. I thought I’d find half of what I still had.
Time to use up some flour and sugar.
I go for the basics, white bread made from flour, sugar, yeast, milk and butter with a pinch of salt. Easy enough. As the dough rises I decide to pivot and turn it into cinnamon bread by rolling the dough out and spreading the rectangle with a mixture of sugar and cinnamon.
The house smells amazing and I inform my daughter and her BFF to expect ‘some baked goods’ this coming weekend.
They have no clue what I am really up to, of course.
This basic white bread recipe is infinitely versatile. Like the proverbial little black dress you can dress it up, you can dress it down. You can leave it plain or embellish it with everything from herbs to leftover jam or even finely diced ham mixed with mustard for a delicious filling treat.
The Little Black Dress of Bread Made Cinnamon Swirl Bread
1/2 cup warm water
1 tablespoon active dry yeast
2 tablespoons sugar
2 cups warm milk (you can use soured milk if you increase the sugar by 2 tablespoons)
3 tablespoons olive oil or butter, melted
2 teaspoons kosher salt
6 to 6 1/2 cups all purpose flour, sifted
3/4 cup sugar mixed with 2 heaping tablespoons of ground cinnamon
Mix the water and yeast together with a teaspoon of the sugar and let stand until bubbling, about 15 minutes.
Mix the yeast, milk, oil, salt and remaining 1/4 cup of sugar in a large mixing bowl. A kitchen stand mixer is ideal for this. Fit the mixer with a paddle and add about three cups of sifted flour, one cup at a time. Keep mixing until well blended and then add the 4th and fifth cup of flour kneading the dough well. You can do this by hand as well. Finally, knead in the 6th cup of sifted flour until the flour is completely absorbed.
Place dough in a greased bowl and cover with a damp cloth. Allow to rise up to two hours, until doubled in bulk. Punch dough down briefly and divide into two equally sized balls. Working quickly, roll out each ball into a rectangle, about 13 by 8 inches. Sprinkle with the sugar-cinnamon mixture (reserved about 1/4 cup for later) and roll up. Tucking the seam at the bottom, place each roll into a greased loaf pan. Allow to rise again until doubled in size.
Preheat over to 375-deg F. Brush loves with a little melted butter and sprinkle with -remaining cinnamon=sugar. Bake for 35-45 minutes or nice loves are browed and a thin kinife inserted in the loves comes out clean.
Best served toasty warm or sliced and toasted with butter and jam. Loves also freeze well. You can also swap out the cinnamon sugar for pesto, jam or any number of other fillings. I’ve had great luck with dicing up leftover ham finely and mixing with a couple of tablespoons of mustard to make a savory loaf.