Friday, April 6, 2012

The sweeter side of bread

Brown Sugar Cinnamon Bread
There's something fascinating about watching dough double in size within just an hour.  Add a sweet smell of brown sugar and cinnamon and the whole house swims with this delicious aroma after it's baked.  

Stress relief tip for the day:
Progressive muscle relaxation.  Learning how to do relaxation exercises can benefit you greatly and give you a tool to use when you are experiencing any stress or anxiety symptoms. It can be used rapidly and will give you control over these body responses. It does require practice just as any other skill. The idea is to tighten certain muscle groups and then to relax those same muscles. The purpose of this is to feel the difference between tension and relaxation. Start by closing your eyes (if you desire, turn on soothing music) and focus on your breathing. Once the breathing is slowed, begin with the toes, tightening them for 5 seconds, then relaxing them, waiting a few moments, then repeating.  Do this with the legs, fingers, arms, back, stomach, neck and shoulders.  Count backwards from five and slowly open your eyes.

Brown Sugar Cinnamon Bread Recipe

1 tbsp active dry yeast
3 tbsp granulated sugar
1 1/4 cups warm water
1 cup warm milk
3 tbsp unsalted butter, melted
1 tbsp salt
1 large egg
6-6 1/4 cups bread flour, plus extra as needed

For the filling:
2/3 cup packed light brown sugar mixed with 4 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

In a bowl sprinkle the yeast and a pinch of the granulated sugar over 1/2cup of the water and stir to dissolve.   Let stand until foamy, about ten minutes.

In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the remaining water, milk, butter, granulated sugar, salt, egg and 2 cups of flour.  Beat on medium speed for one minute.  Slowly beat in remaining flour, half a cup at a time, until the dough pulls away from the sides of the bowl.  Switch to a dough hook.  Knead on medium speed until smooth and elastic, about 4 minutes.  Add 1 tbsp of flour at a time if the dough sticks.

Transfer the dough to a greased bowl.  Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rise at room temperature until doubled in size, 1-1 1/2 hours.

Lightly grease the bottom and sides of two 9 by 5 inch loaf pans.  Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured board.  Divide the dough in half and roll each half into an 8 by 12 inch rectangle.  Sprinkle each rectangle with half of the filling, leaving a one inch border.  Start rolling tightly at the smaller end into a log.  Pinch the ends at the end of the seam to seal the filling.  Place each log, seam side down, in the greased loaf pan.  Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rise and room temperature for 1 - 1 1/2 hours.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.  Bake until the loaves are golden, about 35-40 minutes.  Turn out onto a cooling rack and allow to cool completely before slicing.

Adapted from The Williams-Sonoma Baking Book

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