I have a fascination with swirled breads.
And this cinnamon bread is a beast. But a beautiful one.
I am a big fan of that ooey gooey center but am willing to sacrifice that for the amount of swirls that you are able to achieve with this method.
This post on Food52 caught my eye for many reasons. 1) It's Food52, 2) It's bread and cinnamon bread at that and 3) Maida Heatter. Maida Heatter's smiling face has graced the bookshelves of Popo's, my mom's and now my kitchen since as far back as I remember. In particular, Maida Heatter's Book of Great American Desserts which I was sooo happy to pick up at Powell's Books in Portland. But this bread is from another book of hers (Best Dessert Book Ever) so of course I didn't know of it's existence or I would have tried to tackle it years ago.
I followed this recipe to the tee which is generally pretty rare and even whipped out a thermometer to measure temperatures. In general, I like to do things by feel, especially when it comes to bread but this time, I decided to follow it step-by-step because I wanted to get it right and I wanted those swirls.
In some ways, this bread is a lot easier than other cinnamon bread recipes. The dough is fairly standard and close to a plain white bread dough than a sweet dough filled with tons butter and eggs. And omg, you get to use a food processor! I love kneading but, man, does using a food processor really make things easier. Sometimes the transition between stirring and kneading can get tricky especially if not enough flour is added to the dough while stirring and then it's a sticky mess once you start kneading. But, not with this method because the food processor does all of the work.
Don't forget your ruler because measuring is required to get the proportions just right. First, you roll it out in one big 22 x 12 inch rectangle. But compared to Povitica, that really isn't all that bad. The hardest part of that is making sure that you get it as even and as square as possible. I even made my corners square as suggested! There is no butter that is brushed on this bread which makes the inside less gooey. Instead, a mixture of water and vanilla extract is used to bind the cinnamon sugar mixture to the dough. Some patience is required to do all of that and evenly sprinkle the cinnamon sugar mixture on top.
To achieve all of those layers, you fold the dough instead of trying to get it as thin as possible in a single layer. It doesn't look much here, but don't forget, there are twice as many layers hidden in there!
To finish, there is an interesting scoring method which provides a cool crust, and a crunchy sweet one with the sugar. I found that this made cutting into it a bit tough. But that may have also been because I was eager to cut into it while it was still a bit warm.
Amazingly, I did not burn these or cause the smoke alarm to go off. But that may have been because brown sugar was not included in the list of ingredients. And that was okay because of those swirls...
Kristen and I literally ooh-ed and ahh-ed at all of the layers.
It's taste is reminiscent of a grocery store cinnamon bread but with a luxurious addition of cocoa powder and the sense that you have achieved something great.
I only like raisins in bread and I think having some in here would be an excellent addition.
I like this toasted and with a lot of salted butter.
Maida Heatter's Mile-High Cinnamon Bread
Yields: 1 extra-large loaf