Whole Grain Cinnamon Swirl Bread

Yesterday was a chilly Sunday. Like -28° windchill. So after a brief run to the grocery store to stock up for the week, I spent the rest of the day hunkered down in our apartment. But it sure didn’t feel that cold.

Sunlight streamed through our windows and heated up the place to a balmy 76°. I sat at the dining room table, soaking up the sunshine and trying out new stitches on my sewing machine. At the other end of the table, Gabe diligently studied his law books, stopping every so often to read me something he found absurd or funny or infuriating. The cat sprawled languidly at our feet, basking in the sunshine.

And in the oven, two loaves of cinnamon swirl bread rose over the tops of their pans and turned golden brown, sending a sweet aroma cascading through our tiny apartment. I paused for a moment to reflect on the scene in front of me. As much as I dream of the day Gabe and I buy a house together, I know I’ll look back on our 600 square feet of living space with poignant nostalgia. It may be small, but it sure is cozy. And the oven makes great bread.

Whole Grain Cinnamon Swirl Bread

Whole Grain Cinnamon Swirl Bread

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Whole Grain Cinnamon Swirl Bread

Bread

  • 1 1/4 cups warm milk
  • 1 1/4 cups warm water
  • 2 1/2 Tbs. honey
  • 1 1/2 Tbs. instant yeast
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 cup butter, melted and slightly cooled
  • 5 cups (635 grams) white whole wheat flour
  • 1 1/4 cups (160 grams) mixed whole grains*
  • 1 Tbs. kosher salt

Filling

  • 1/2 cup unpacked brown sugar
  • 1 Tbs. cinnamon
  • 1 egg
  • 1 Tbs. water

In the bowl of a stand mixer, whisk together milk, water, honey, and yeast. Whisk in egg and butter. Meanwhile, stir together flour, whole grains, and kosher salt in a large bowl. Stir the flour mixture into the milk mixture just until combined. The dough will be wet and lumpy. Let stand for five minutes.

Fit the dough hook attachment to the stand mixer, and knead the dough on low speed for six minutes. Turn dough out onto a floured surface and knead a couple times by hand. The dough will be very sticky, but you can add a little more flour if it’s impossible to work with. Form the dough into a ball, cover with a bowl, and let stand for ten minutes.

Knead a couple times by hand, and let stand for ten minutes, covered with the bowl. Repeat one more time. Place the dough in an oiled bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and let rise at room temperature until doubled, about 60-70 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a small bowl, stir together brown sugar and cinnamon until well combined. Make an egg wash by whisking together egg and water. Lightly butter two loaf pans. Set aside.

When the dough has risen, place it back onto a floured surface and divide into two pieces. Working with one piece at a time, roll the dough into a rectangle about 8 x 16 inches. Brush the dough with the egg wash and sprinkle with half the cinnamon mixture. Working from a short end, roll the dough up into a loaf. Pinch the ends together to seal in the cinnamon sugar. Place the loaf into one of the buttered loaf pans. Repeat with the second half of the dough.

Cover the two loaf pans lightly with plastic wrap and let rise until the dough has risen over the edge of the pans by about one inch, about 45-60 minutes. Halfway through the rise, preheat oven to 350°F.

Bake the bread for 40 minutes, or until golden brown on top. The loaves should sound hollow when tapped, and the inside temperature should reach 190° F on an instant-read thermometer. Remove the loaves from the oven and let stand, in their pans, on a cooling rack for 10 minutes. Run a knife around the edge of the loaf pans to loosen the bread, and gently turn the loaves out onto the cooling rack. Let cool completely before slicing.

Makes two loaves.

* For the whole grains mixture, you can use any of the following: rye flour, rye meal, rye flakes, cornmeal, cooked grits or polenta, rolled oats or oat flour, amaranth, uncooked ground quinoa, cooked whole quinoa, quinoa flakes, or cooked brown rice. Measure by weight to get the best results. I used 70 grams of Bob’s Red Mill seven grain cereal and 90 grams rolled oats, both uncooked.

Source: Slightly adapted from Peter Reinhart via Smitten Kitchen.

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