Sunday, December 18, 2005

Golden Cinnamon Loaf


1/4 cup warm water (110 F to 115 F)
1/3 cup plus 1 tbsp sugar
1 package active dry yeast
3 1/4 cups all-purpose flour, spooned and leveled
1/2 tsp salt
1/3 cup (2/3 stick) unsalted butter, diced
1/2 cup milk
1 large egg
2 large egg yolks (reserve 1 egg white for egg wash)
1 tsp vanilla extract

1 large egg white plus 2 tsp water, lightly beaten, for egg wash
1/3 cup sugar mixed with 2 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon, for filling
1 tbsp unsalted butter, melted

Rinse a small bowl in hot water to warm it. Add the warm water and 1 tbsp of the sugar to the bowl. Sprinkle the yeast on top of the water. Do not stir. Cover with a saucer and let stand for 5 minutes, swirling the bowl every so often. Stir with a small whisk or a fork and cover again for about 3 minutes, or until the yeast is bubbly and dissolved.

Make the Dough

Stand Mixer Method

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, mix the flour, remaining 1/3 cup of sugar and salt on low speed. Add the butter and continue to mix until meal-size crumbs form.

In a small bowl, whisk together the dissolved yeast, milk, whole egg, yolks, and vanilla. On low speed, add the liquids to the dry ingredients and mix for 1 minute longer, or until a soft dough forms.

Hand Method

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together 3 cups of the flour, the remaining 1/3 cup sugar, and the salt. Add the softened butter, and using a pastry blender or your finger tips, work in the butter until the mixture resembles fine meal.

Make a well in the centre. In a small bowl, whisk together the dissolved yeast, milk, whole egg, yolks, and vanilla. Empty the mixture into the well. With a wooden spoon, gradually work the crumbs into the liquid, mixing until all the crumbs are incorporated and a rough dough is formed. Dust the work surface with half of the remaining 1/4 cup of flour. Turn the dough onto the floured surface, and incorporate the remainder of the flour, kneading the dough lightly until it is smooth.

Shape the Dough

Shape the dough into a ball, then place it in a buttered bowl large enough for the dough to double. Turn the dough a few times to coat it with butter. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and place it in a warm spot to rise until doubled, about 1 1/4 hours.

Generously butter two 8 x 3 1/4 x 2 1/2-inch aluminum foil loaf pans and line the bottoms with baking parchment. Line a rimmed cookie sheet with parchment.

Working with one piece of dough at a time, roll it into a 6 x 13-inch rectangle with the 6-inch side parallel to the counter. Brush with some of the egg wash. Remove 1 tbsp of the cinnamon/sugar mixture and set aside for garnish. Sprinkle the dough evenly with half of the remaining cinnamon/sugar mixture, leaving a 1-inch border on the top. Starting with the 6-inch side closest to you, roll very tightly to form a cylinder. Pinch the seam together very well and roll the cylinder back and forth three or four times to seal the layers. Place the roll in the prepared loaf pan, making sure the seam is on the bottom. The dough does not have to touch the sides of the pan. Repeat with the remaining dough. Place the loaves on the prepared cookie sheet. Cover the loaves with a tea towel and place in a warmish spot to rise until puffy and almost doubled, 45 to 60 minutes.

Bake the Loaves

Fifteen minutes before baking, position the rack in the lower third of the oven. Heat the oven to 350 F. Bake the loaves for 25 minutes, remove from the oven, and then brush the tops with melted butter and sprinkle with the remaining cinnamon/sugar mixture. Bake for 10 to 15 minutes longer, until golden.

Remove loaves from the oven and let rest for 5 minutes. Reduce the oven temperature to 300 F. Turn the breads on their side and carefully remove them from the pans. Peel off the baking parchment if it adheres to the loaves. Place the loaves on the oven rack for 1 to 2 minutes to crisp, turning them to the opposite side halfway through. remove from the oven and place onto a rack to cool.

Storage: Store at room temperature, tightly wrapped in foil, for up to 3 days. These loaves may be frozen. Makes 2 8-inch loaves, 8 to 10 servings per loaf.

Source: Great Coffee Cakes, Sticky Buns, Muffins and More, 2007

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