If I try hard enough, I can almost a remember a time when my idea of unwinding after a long work week was heading out for cocktails with girlfriends. (Okay, so it really wasn’t that long ago.) But nowadays, few things are more soothing than spending some quality time creaming butter, sugar and eggs in the KitchenAid. Sure, cooking with a 3.5-year-old isn’t entirely relaxing, but it is especially rewarding to see the boy bite into a fresh baked cookie or slice of bread with glee and to watch him proudly boast to his dad, “Look what Mommy and me made!” And there’s no better time than February (hello Valentine’s Day) to share home baked goodies with the ones you love. So I’m declaring February “Homemade with Love” month here at FoodieTots. I hope you’ll join in and share what you and your kids are baking, too. There may even be a round-up at the end of the month if you have links to share.
First up is Cinnamon Swirl Bread, the next entry in my Bread Baker’s Apprentice challenge. Peter Reinhart’s bread calls for raisins and walnuts, which I like well enough, but I wanted to make a simple cinnamon bread first. This is the bread that inspired me to join the challenge, as I have strong memories of my mother baking cinnamon bread and the warm fragrance that filled the house. I don’t even remember if she ever made it more than once, but the cinnamon-sweet scent has stayed with me all these years, and motivated me to overcome my phobia of yeast.
This is a pretty simple bread, the dough smooth and pliable. In addition to omitting the raisins and nuts, I replaced the shortening with melted butter. The boy helped me knead, giving it a few enthusiastic whacks and pokes.
To add the cinnamon swirl, you simply pat the dough out into a rectangle, spread it with a generous layer of cinnamon-sugar, then roll up into a loaf. (You can see pictures of this step on Pinch My Salt’s post.) After a second rise in the loaf pans, it heads into the oven to bake.
(You can see the pronounced difference between the crappy over-stove fluorescent lighting and my Ego lights, the dough didn’t actually turn from yellow to white…) I had a stuffy nose the day I baked it, so the scent wasn’t as strong as I’d remembered, but the taste was everything I remembered.
Cinnamon swirl bread is best with a generous spread of fresh-from-the-farm butter, and maybe a little more of that cinnamon-sugar on top. Delish. Of course, if you somehow don’t finish the loaf the first day or two, it also makes scrumptious French toast. And needless to say, the boy was quite pleased with the finished product.