Written for The River Current publication, August 1, 2013
I was up early this morning and have been pondering ever since...what shall I write my column about this week? Often I spend much more time researching what I will write about, rather than the actual writing...the writing somehow just seems to take care of itself. Thank goodness!
As I was pondering the possibilities, I was munching on a toasted piece of the whole wheat cinnamon swirl bread that I made over the weekend (along with some fresh fruit). Why not share this, because in all honesty, it is rather delish…and good for you too!
Our Saturday last weekend (if you recall) was a rainy one. Rainy and cool. I can’t remember ever wearing a sweater in late July! It was comfy. What better way to entertain myself than with the magical alchemy of transforming flour, water and yeast into a fragrant, great-tasting loaf of bread!
I have always loved making bread, but have never had great success with making whole wheat breads. Typically they have been too dense, and reluctant to rise. Now knowing that bread in its unrefined 'whole' state; as in whole wheat bread, is also an incredibly nutritious food that has many health benefits…I was up for the challenge.
100% whole wheat bread includes the bran and the germ of the wheat. It is also a great source of fiber and manganese. On top of this are the vitamins and minerals: vitamin B complex, vitamin E, folic acid, calcium, phosphorous, copper, magnesium, iron and zinc. This massive list of beneficial minerals and vitamins should be inspiration enough to master this delightful recipe!
Rainy Day Whole Wheat Cinnamon Swirl Bread
2 packets active dry yeast
1 tsp. organic sugar
1 cup warm water
1 ¼ cups organic milk, warmed
¼ cup local honey
5 to 6 cups organic white whole wheat flour
2 tsp. salt
½ cup organic butter
¾ cup organic sugar
1 ½ Tbsp. organic cinnamon
When getting things all prepped and ready for a bread-making session; I always like to begin by filling a large mixing bowl with hot water. This extra step will ensure that when your dough is mixed, kneaded and happy; it will have a nice warm place to rest and begin to rise. Simply fill with water and set aside while you turn your focus on mixing the dough ingredients.
1. Stir the yeast, sugar and warm water in mixing bowl. Cover with a kitchen towel and let sit until it is foamy; 5 to 10 minutes.
2. Add the warm milk, honey, 4 cups of the flour and salt; stir until combined. Gradually add more flour until the dough is too stiff to stir. Transfer to a lightly floured work surface and knead; adding more flour as needed, until it is smooth and elastic…about 10 minutes. (I always put the dough hook on my trusty Kitchen Aid mixer and let it do all the work for me!)
3. Form the dough into a ball and place in the (warm) lightly oiled large bowl; flipping it until it is coated with oil. Cover again and let it sit in a warm place until the dough has doubled in size…1 ½ to 2 hours.
4. Punch the dough down and then pinch in half. On a lightly floured work surface, roll each half into an approx. 8 X 16 inch square. Spread ¼ cup of the butter over the dough. Sprinkle evenly with half of the sugar/cinnamon mixture.
5. Starting at the short end, tightly roll each piece of dough to form a loaf…pinching the ends will keep the sugary mixture inside of the bread.
6. Place the loaves into lightly buttered loaf pans; cover and let rise again for 1 ½ to 2 hours.
7. Bake in the center of the oven at 350 degrees or until golden brown; approx. 40 minutes. The loaves should sound hollow when tapped lightly.