Monday, September 7, 2009

BBA: Cinnamon Raisin(less) Walnut "Swirl" Bread

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!

13 comments:

Audrey said...

I think your ; - and your bread - looks wonderful! I'm hoping to catch up next weekend...now that it's getting cool out, cinnamon toast sounds very appealing!

Di said...

Don't feel bad--I had a mutant swirl in mine, too. =) Hopefully I'll get it posted tomorrow or Wednesday. Gotta get TWD made first. Your bread looks great. I think you're one of the few I've seen who actually added the walnuts. I just went with raisins.

Nancy/n.o.e said...

Punctuation has its place indeed, but in bread? hmph! Actually your bread looks amazing to me; I love that you used the nuts and that you swirled the loaves. We loved this one, and I had the exact same rising times, so it's easy to squeeze this one into any 3.5 hour window of time that appears in the day, even if it's after dinner.

Sara said...

Yay for you! Bread baking really is a great thing. Who cares what the swirl looks like, this bread was super tasty. Did you also add the cinnamon sugar crust? Oh man, so good.

mike said...

Cinnamon bread... now *that* is something I would spend the time to make. Bread baking is a true test of "time" and energy - nicely done! Love the swirl - it leads you to a mega-licious tail of cinnamon!

Jennifer said...

Oh, your bread looks so delicious! I would love some toasted with a schmear of salted butter!

Kayte said...

Looks great to me...I only worry about holes when it is designated for grilled cheese (which to be truthful, most breads are in this household of teens thinking 3 grilled cheese sandwiches is a good snack), because the cheese melts through the holes and makes a bit of a mess. However, cinnamon bread is never used as grilled cheese around here (although now that I am thinking about it, I might like a grilled cinnamon bread sandwich using cream cheese), then the hole is just an artistic novelty. My second loaf had a bit of a holey swirl also...don't know that I did one thing different from one loaf to the next, but they were different inside, go figure. Yours looks fabulous. There will come a day when you won't be giving extra food away as you will have a teenage boy at that point, so you need to make sure people are properly appreciative now that you are generously giving away home baked goodies. The day will come that when you turn your back for packaging, you realize there is nothing left to package!

Tracey said...

This bread is solely responsible for at least a 3-4 pound weight gain at my house in the past week! I made 2 loaves and have already eaten one all by myself. It might just be the best bread I've ever had. Yours looks great to me. I did the cinnamon swirl too and didn't get as much swirl as I'd have liked. I've had the gaping hole thing happen to me before too. I generally attribute it to not rolling the dough tightly enough.

Leslie said...

Wasn't this an amazing loaf? I can't wait to make it again. I wish I had done the swirl as you did because more cinnamon sugar in the bread is a sure fire hit.

If you turn yours on its side, it looks just like the letter "C." Aren't you talented for putting your initial in your bread!

Sarah said...

I think your swirl is beautiful! It certainly looks a lot more swirl-like than mine... Gorgeous bread, great job! I thought this was a winner, too.

pinkstripes said...

Your bread looks great and I like your swirl. You're too hard on yourself!

Steph said...

hahah.. mutant swirl.. you're too funny! I made this bread and loved it.

AmyRuth said...

Now see, I wouldn't have known the difference, not being a bread baker,....yet. ha ha Anyway, the aroma and the toasted with more of everything sounds fabulous to me. Great job. Looks so delicious.
AmyRuth

 
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