Beauty surrounded the Daring Bakers this month as our host, Sawsan, of chef in disguise, challenged us to make beautiful, filled breads. Who knew breads could look as great as they taste? Well, really anyone who has ever had the great joy of playing with breads – risen loaves that look like little animals, croissants achieving their destined golden hue, french baguettes with their long parallel slices jutting across the surface. All bread is beautiful. But I’ll admit, this bread is a thing unto itself, layers separated by different colored fillings, twisted into patterns and spirals.
For this challenge, I went with a simple cinnamon bread, modeled after a cinnamon roll. The dough recipe was provided by Sawsan and is copied below:
1/4 cup warm water
3/4 cup warm milk
1/4 soft butter
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 1/4 cups flour
2 teaspoons yeast
1. Whisk together the milk, water, sugar, butter, and yeast
2. Combine the flour and salt in another bowl.
3. Knead together the dry and wet ingredients until you get a smooth dough adding/subtracting
dough as necessary.
4. Cover with a cloth and leave in a warm place to double.
On a side note, I cheated on this part. I had a bridal shower to attend in the morning and wanted to make this for an evening gathering but wasn’t going to have time, so I threw the ingredients in a bread maker and put it on a dough setting. That way when I got back it was already kneaded and risen. I do love getting my hands wrist deep in dough, but I also love being able to use the bread machine to help fit baking into my busy schedule.
Combine equal parts brown and white sugar (I think I did about a half cup of each), and as much cinnamon as you desire – I never measure cinnamon in sweet recipes but think I put in somewhere around 3 teaspoons…maybe a bit more.
1 stick butter separated into three equal parts.
Putting it all together:
1. Tip your dough out and cut it into 4 equal blobs. Roll each into a ball.
2. Working with one dough ball at a time, roll the dough out into a large thin circle (mine was a little over a foot in diameter).
3. Melt 1 glob of butter and spread evenly over the dough circle.
4. Take 1/3 of the cinnamon sugar mixture and spread evenly over the butter.
5. Repeat steps 2-4 for the next two balls of dough.
6. Roll out the last ball of dough and lay it on top of the last cinnamon layer.
7. Now the fun part. You get to twist the dough into fun shapes. There are so many different ways you can do this that I almost feel silly giving you directions on it – really it’s just fun to experiment. But for the sake of this blog I’ll tell you what I did.
I trimmed my dough stack into an even circle, then marked it into 12 wedges. I cut these marks from the center leaving the outer inch still connected. I then cut a slit in the center of each wedge starting about 2 inches from the outer edge . Holding the inner point of a wedge I flipped the point through the slit twice, readjusting the twists as necessary. After repeating this for each wedge, I cut a small slice into the dough just above the slit. I pinched two of the points from these cuts together, twisted and tucked the ends in to create little rosettes around the edge. A small piece of spare dough was flattened an tucked in the center. I brushed the whole thing with a little extra butter. You can see mine below, ready to go in the oven.
8. Bake at 450 for 5 minutes, then lower the temp to 350 and bake for an additional 15 minutes or until golden.
9. Best eaten warm.
Notes, ideas, opinions, general musings….
This stuff was really good – like getting to eat cinnamon rolls with less edge and lots of center. Plus it was fun to make and came out looking absolutely beautiful. I can’t wait to try it with pesto and asiago cheese, maybe I’ll even add a few sundried tomatoes. (Iffy on that last ingredient.) And one guy asked if I could make one with a peach filling – not quite sure how to make that one go well – maybe a cream cheese and peach layering like a danish? Or go with a thicker peach filling like a strudel? Anyone out there have ideas for me?