Monday, January 9, 2012

Baking Bread

In my rather extensive history of baking, few recipes have had me stumped.  Some have been difficult to execute, surely, but they usually "work" according to the directions.  

Until I met a Cinnamon Sugar Pull Apart Bread recipe.  I found this gem on Pinterest, looking all warm and cinnamon sugary and I thought, "Hells yeah I can do this."  I had everything on hand, including the yeast, and I went to work.  Only to find that my dough didn't rise...not once, but two times as I threw the first batch out to try it again.

With J's chef training, he's never heard of adding the egg to a dough that's supposed to be light.  Which may or may not be the problem, but nonetheless I'll show you the recipe and if you all have better success than me, let me know!

Cinnamon Sugar Pull Apart Bread 
adapted from Joy the Baker

For the dough:
2 3/4 cups plus 2 tablespoons of all purpose flour
1/4 cup  of granulated sugar
2 1/4 teaspoons of active dry yeast (1 packet)
1/2 teaspoon of salt
2 ounces of unsalted butter
1/3 cup of whole milk
1/4 cup of water
2 large eggs at room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

For the filling:
1 cup of granulated sugar
2 teaspoons of ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon of fresh ground nutmeg
2 ounces of unsalted butter, melted and browned

1.  In a large mixing bowl, mix together 2 cups of flour, sugar, yeast and salt.  Set aside.

2.  Whisk together eggs.  Set aside.

3.  In a small saucepan, melt together butter and milk until butter has just melted.  Remove from heat and add water and vanilla extract.  Let mixture stand for a couple of minutes or until temperature reaches 115 to 125 degrees.

3.  Pour the milk mixture into the dry ingredients and mix with a spatula.  Add the eggs and stir until incorporated into the batter.  The batter should feel soupy, keep stirring until it comes together.  Add the remaining 3/4 cup of flour and stir with spatula for 2 minutes until mixture is sticky.

4.  Place the dough in a large, greased bowl.  Cover with plastic wrap and a kitchen towel and place in a warm area and allow to rest until doubled in size (approximately 1 hour).  The dough can be refrigerated overnight once risen.

5.  While dough rises, mix together sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg.  Set aside.  Melt and brown butter.  Set aside.  Grease and four a 9 X 5 X 3 loaf pan.  Set aside.

6.  Deflate risen dough and knead in 2 tablespoons of flour.  Let rest 5 minutes.  On a lightly floured surface, roll out dough to approximately 12 inches tall and 20 inches long.

7.  Using a pastry brush, spread browned butter across the dough's surface.  Then cover the dough with a generous amount of the cinnamon, sugar, and nutmeg mixture.  

8.  Using a pizza cutter (or knife if you don't have a pizza cutter), slice the dough into six equal strips.  Stack the strips one on top of the other and slice the stack into six equal stacks.  Place the stacks into the bread pan like a flip book and allow to rest 30 -45 minutes or until doubled in size.

9.  Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and place bread in the middle of the rack.  Bake 30 - 35 minutes or until the top is very golden brown.

10.  Remove from oven and enjoy!

The bread definitely was not terrible, but I am going to try this recipe yet again to see if I can get the bread to rise both times--once after the initial mixing and again after it sits in the bread pan.  Just a little fluffier would have made it perfect--I was picturing a consistency something like monkey bread in my mind before I attempted it.  And like I said above, if you have better success, let me know what I'm missing here!


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