Nearly every morning for breakfast, I slather toast with butter, shower cinnamon and sugar over the top, and present the slices to the little ones surrounding my kitchen table. Nothing, however, beats the real thing: a tender, fragrant loaf, swirled with cinnamon and sugar. The key here is to allow the dough to rest for 20 minutes after deflating and portioning it, which relaxes the gluten, enabling it to stretch easily, therefore precluding the need for a rolling pin.
Reprinted from my book Bread Toast Crumbs (Clarkson Potter 2017). —Alexandra Stafford
- Makes 2 loaves
- For the dough:
(768 grams) unbleached all-purpose flour
(55 grams) sugar
2 1/2 teaspoons
1 1/2 cups
buttermilk or milk
(3/4 stick) unsalted butter, melted
Softened unsalted butter, for greasing
- For assembly:
(32 grams) flour, for clean surface
(110 grams) sugar
egg beaten with 1 teaspoon water
- Make the dough: In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, sugar, and instant yeast. In a medium bowl, combine the buttermilk, the boiling water, and 1/2 cup water. Stir to combine, then add to the flour mixture, followed by the melted butter. Mix until the liquid is absorbed and the ingredients form a sticky dough ball. Cover the bowl with a damp tea towel or plastic wrap and set aside in a warm spot to rise for 1 1/2 hours, or until the dough has doubled in bulk.
- Set a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat it to 375° F. Grease two 8 1/2- by 4 1/2-inch loaf pans generously with the softened butter. Using two forks, deflate the dough by releasing it from the sides of the bowl and pulling it toward the center. Rotate the bowl quarter turns as you deflate, turning the mass into a rough ball.
- Assemble the bread: Sprinkle the flour onto a clean surface. Using your two forks and working from the center out, separate the dough into two equal pieces. Use the forks to lift one portion of dough onto the clean surface. Using as much flour as necessary from the surface, dust your hands and the exterior of the dough, and shape the mass as best you can into a ball. Repeat with the other half. Let the dough balls rest for 20 minutes without touching.
- Dust another clean surface with flour. Transfer one round to the prepared surface and gently stretch the dough into roughly a 10- by 15-inch rectangle. In a small bowl, mix the sugar with the cinnamon. Brush the dough with the egg wash. Sprinkle the dough with half of the cinnamon-sugar mix. Beginning with one short end, roll it tightly into a coil and place it in a greased loaf pan. Repeat with the remaining round. Do not cover the pans. Let the coils rise on the countertop near the oven (or another warm, draft-free spot) for about 10 minutes, or until the top of the dough just crowns the rims of the pans.
- Transfer the pans to the oven and bake for 40 to 45 minutes, until the tops are golden brown and firm to the touch. Remove the loaves from the oven, turn them out onto a cooling rack, and let them cool on their sides for 20 minutes before cutting them.
- NOTE: To make cinnamon raisin bread, plump 1 cup of raisins in just enough water or rum to cover for 10 minutes. Drain and add them to the flour bowl after whisking the flour, salt, sugar, and yeast together. Toss to coat, and proceed as instructed.