Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Cinnamon Swirl Vanilla-Orange Bread

I know it's Thanksgiving and you're probably expecting me to post something Thanksgivingish, but I'm currently in love with my new loaf and couldn't resist passing this on first.

My mom made homemade bread all the time when I was little. Well, in retrospect it seems like all the time, but maybe it wasn't. It was definitely a lot. And occasionally she'd make cinnamon swirl bread with raisins in it, and that would make the best toast ever possible. Mmm. Good memories.

I had (shockingly) never made cinnamon swirl bread until a couple weeks ago, at which time I could resist no longer. My family is not a raisin family, so I needed a way to make my cinnamon bread taste like more than just regular bread with cinnamon sprinkles. Since the title of my post gives my quest-end away, and since I didn't take too long figuring it out anyhow, I'll cut to the chase: orange zest and vanilla beans in a honey-and-butter enriched milk bread. That's right. I know what you're thinking. Mmm. That sounds good.

You should taste it.

But, of course, that's why I post: so you can taste. Only you have to do the work. Or, if you're masochistic, you can simply read what I'm writing, stare at the pictures, and ache for what you're missing.

The orange in the bread is bright and vibrant against the mellow dough, but it doesn't overpower the bread and nicely complements the cinnamon. The vanilla is slightly angelic, and I'm keeping it in the recipe, but if you don't have any beans around, feel free to make this bread with everything else and leave that out. But don't leave anything else out. (By the way, I buy my vanilla beans for a very low price on eBay and keep them in a sealed bag inside an airtight jar in my pantry.)

Since it's Thanksgiving week, I highly recommend you make this tonight and tomorrow (it takes 2 days) and have a lovely breakfast Thanksgiving morning (you'll be having leftover pie on Friday morning). Or do what I'm doing, and make several loaves over the next few weeks and pass them out as Christmas gifts. You could make friends pretty quickly that way.

For a printable version of this recipe, click here.

Cinnamon Swirl Vanilla-Orange Bread

approx. 7 1/2 - 8 c. white bread flour
2 c. cold water
1 1/4 t. instant yeast (if using active dry, you'll need to proof it first)
1 1/2 c. lowfat milk
1/2 c. honey
1/2 c. (1 stick) unsalted butter
zest of 1 large orange
seeds scraped from 1 vanilla bean (optional)
1 T. salt
a good supply of cinnamon sugar (1 t. cinnamon for each 1/4 c. sugar)

In a medium bowl, stir together the water, 2 c. flour, and 1/4 t. yeast. Cover. Set aside 8-12 hours (overnight).

Heat the milk and butter until the butter has melted, then stir in the honey.

In a large bowl, combine the sponge from the night before, zest, vanilla seeds, and remaining 1 t. yeast. Stir together, then add 5 c. flour, salt, and milk mixture. Begin kneading with a stand mixer or by hand, adding more flour as needed until the dough is no longer sticky but still soft and tender. Knead 8-10 minutes. Transfer the dough to a large bowl coated with oil or cooking spray. Cover and let rise 2-3 hours, until doubled in size.

Divide the dough into two equal parts. On a lightly floured surface, roll each out into a rectangle about 9" x 22". Sprinkle the dough generously with the cinnamon sugar, creating a nice, even layer, not too thick, but covering the entire surface. Roll up the short ends to short ends. Seal the ends by pinching them to the rest of the dough, then turn that side down and set loaves in two generously sprayed 9"x5" loaf pans. Cover and let rise about an hour.

Preheat the oven to 350˚. When the loaves have risen to the point that they are an inch or so above the top of the loaf pans, place them in the oven. Quickly add 1 c. of ice cubes to the bottom of the oven and close the oven door. Leave the door closed during baking, especially the first 20 minutes.

Bake until golden brown all the way around and hollow-sounding when tapped on the bottom of the loaf, 45 minutes for me. Don't underbake your bread. If you want to measure the temperature, it should be around 200˚ in the middle.

Turn the loaves out onto a cooling rack and cool all the way to room temperature before slicing into, or the cinnamon sugar will not be set and will be gooey, sliding out and abandoning future slices of bread from the same loaf. So tempting, but DON'T do it.

Enjoy. :)


Anonymous said...

have i mentioned how happy it makes me that i'm listed in your "faves" and mark is only listed in your "friendly blogs?"

it makes me very happy.

Heidi said...

Yum! I can't wait to make this. Although, it isn't enough time for me to make it for Thanksgiving morning. :(

Anonymous said...

I hate Mark right now. After his post, I keep coming back to your blog to salivate!

That recipe is very similiar to my mum's.

molnar ramblings said...

This is bread from heaven! Both of us loved it. Thanks for sharing the recipe.

char_char said...

I absolutely love this bread Rachel. You're mom made it around the holidays and it was amazing.

I'm so glad that you share your recipes. I'm always excited and amazed at what you're going to share next!

On another note, I'm glad you all made it safely and am awaiting pictures of your new house!