Sunday, June 1, 2014

Cinnamon Swirl Bread

Life has taught me a lot in the thirty-one plus years I've been here.  It still feels weird saying that... in my mind, I still wonder why I'm not twenty-five anymore.

Life has taught me there are seasons of joy, seasons of struggle, seasons of pain, and seasons of growth.

Life has taught me that there will always be people that are rooting for you to fail... and believe me, when you're down, they'll take their foot (that is clearly covered with leftover dirt from other people they've knocked down) and kick you even farther into the pit you've been trying your hardest to climb out of... so far that you can barely see the light.  Remember... the light is there, even if you can't see it.    You know who I'm talking about.  These are the people that are so miserable, they just can't shake the notion that they must try to drag you down into the misery that they experience on a daily basis.  You know, the people that never have anything positive to say about anything.  We don't even have to talk about when these people try to hold every little thing they've EVER done for you over your head.  They will... for sure!  And trust me, they won't be letting you forget about that time they gave up everything (all of their hopes and dreams combined) to stop and buy you a six pack of Krispy Kreme Donuts when you were having a bad day twenty years ago.  Let's make a rule:  Don't let them get inside your head.  Just don't.  Trust me on this one.

Life has also taught me about compassion...  You know what I'm talking about... giving without the expectation of receiving.  Seeing someone in need, and openly, willingly offering a hand when they need it more than ever before with no intentions of receiving any benefit from it whatsoever.  These types of people don't show up often, but when they do, you can't miss it.

Whatever season you're going through, this Cinnamon Swirl Bread can only do great things for you.  Think cinnamon roll, but on steroids.  This recipe is adapted from Joy the Baker.  You can find the original recipe here, as well as how to actually roll the bread, and place it in the skillet.

This bread is great for breakfast, a midnight snack, or even as a gift.  The awesome thing about this bread is no stand mixer is required.  It's all done by hand.  Please don't let this bread intimidate you... because it's worth it.  You won't regret this.  Let's get to it.

Cinnamon Swirl Bread
Adapted from Joy The Baker

For the Dough:
2 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
3/4 cup whole milk, lukewarm
1 large egg yolk
2 tablespoons butter, melted
2 1/4 cups All-Purpose Flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
a bit of olive oil for greasing the bowl
For the Filling:
1/4 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/4 cup granulated sugar
3 teaspoons ground cinnamon
*Powdered Sugar (for topping)
In a medium bowl stir yeast with sugar. Stir in  the lukewarm milk and then add the egg yolk and melted butter.  Whisk together until thoroughly combined.  Allow mixture to rest for 5 minutes.  It should foam and froth.
In a large bowl whisk together the flour and salt. Pour the milk mixture over the dry ingredients and start kneading it until it pulls away from the edges of the bowl. Place dough on a lightly floured counter and knead by hand for about 10 minutes more.  Dough ball should be smooth and damp, without being too sticky.  Shape dough into a ball.
Grease a large bowl with olive oil.  Place the dough in the bowl and cover.  Allow to rest at warm room temperature for about 1 hours, or until doubled in size.
While the dough rises, whisk together the butter with sugar and cinnamon for the filling. Set aside.
Preheat the oven to 375degrees F. Grease a 10-inch cast iron skillet.  Set aside.
After the dough has doubled in size, place it on a lightly floured counter and knead twice.  Using a rolling pin to roll the dough to a rectangle of about 18×12 inches.
Spoon the cinnamon filling over top, spreading evenly, leaving a clean 1-inch border around the edges. Start by rolling the longest side of the dough.  The roll will be a bit lumpy because of all the berries. Using a sharp knife, cut the log in half length-wise leaving 1-inch of the edge uncut.
Start braiding the two pieces, by carefully lifting the left strand over the right strand.  Repeat this motion until you reach the bottom of the dough.  Press together to seal.  Join the two ends, creating a circle with the dough and press together.
Using two swift hands, transfer the dough ring to the prepared cast iron skillet. 
Bake for 20-25 minutes until golden brown and bubbling.  Top with powdered sugar.  Allow to cool for about 30 minutes before slicing and serving. 

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