The Slow & Steady subgroup of the Bread Baker's Apprentice Challenge took on Peter Reinhart's Cinnamon Raisin Walnut Bread this week. I tell you, the deeper I get into the Bread Baker's Apprentice, the more hooked I get on bread baking. It's like a little miracle happens every time that dough rises.
Of course, there's always something about my breads that keep them from being perfect (see, e.g, tiny ciabatta holes, preternatural hugeness, or gaping holes in cinnamon bread where swirl is supposed to begin) and therefore I don't usually get to revel in the miracle of my risen bread for very long. But still, even less-than-perfect homemade bread is pretty darn good, and this cinnamon walnut bread is Exhibit A.
Many of Peter's breads are two-day breads, requiring some kind of overnight soaker before the dough is mixed, but this one is a one day bread. It's also a one-bowl bread, so it is just about as easy as it gets. I started this one on Sunday evening at about 7:00. I don't usually like to start bread at night because I never know when I'm going to hit The Wall, and if I do happen to hit The Wall when my dough still needs to rise for another 30 minutes and bake for 40 minutes, I'm likely to make decisions that are good for my sleep needs but bad for my bread. Fortunately, on the first rise my dough doubled in 1.5 hours (rather than the 2 that Peter estimates it will take), and crested the pans on the second rise in about an hour. So the bread was out of the oven at the respectable hour of 10:30, and my night-owl husband graciously offered to cover the bread once it was cool. Delicious cinnamon bread and a decent night's sleep to boot - yup, it was a good day.
I left out the raisins here, but decided to try for a cinnamon swirl when shaping the bread. Peter provides clear instructions for doing this, and I tried to follow the instructions exactly, but my swirling clearly needs work. The slices of bread on the end of the loaf had these crazy half swirl things -- kind of like a semicolon with a huge hole where the top dot should be:
I'm a big fan of the semicolon, but not in the middle of my bread. Fortunately, when you got towards the center of the bread, the swirl looked a little more like a swirl is supposed to look (except for the big hole). I gave one loaf to David's parents, and I'm curious to hear how their swirl looked. I'm hoping that it didn't evoke thoughts of punctuation marks for them.
But mutant swirl or not, this is incredibly delicious bread. I was pleased with the crumb, and while I think this would be delicious fresh, cinnamon bread seems like it is meant to be toasted. So I toasted it, buttered it, and sprinkled it with more cinnamon sugar. My entire family loved this. Another great one from the Bread Baker's Apprentice!
4 days ago