This weekend I baked some truly delicious bread. Today I’m baking French bread, tomorrow I’m baking sourdough bread. The next day I’m planning some kind of honey oat bread. And focaccia suddenly sounds really good. Do you like olive bread? I like olive bread.
My family hates me already.
But back to this delicious bread. The five of us ate an entire loaf in one sitting. Slathered with butter. (Actually Smart Balance, but who says “Slathered with Smart Balance?” Smart Balance just does slather half as well.) So we came to a unanimous agreement that we should freeze the second loaf, and save it to fatten up some dinner company (after we lure them into our gingerbread apartment covered in Butterfingers and coconut Jelly Bellies, and before we stuff them in the stove to bake them).
Actually we left behind a tiny, funny-shaped quarter slice. Apparently our personal discipline kicks in when we realize we’re about to collectively consume 12 sandwiches worth of bread. And then we go into denial and pretend like that little sorry sliver sitting in a plastic bag next to the bananas actually makes a difference. (Feel free to interpret all those “we”s as the royal we. Certain freaks of nature who unaccountably share some of my genetics have the ability to eat one slice of bread. One. Une. Eins. Yi. Ichi.)
This fantastic bread was a Cinnamon Raisin Walnut loaf from Peter Reinhart’s The Bread Baker’s Apprentice. Brown Eyed Baker suggested that instead of sprinkling the loaves with cinnamon sugar, it might be incredibly wonderful to roll out the dough, sprinkle it with cinnamon sugar, and roll it up to make a swirl in the bread. It was incredibly wonderful. I had extra cinnamon sugar after making the swirl, so I sprinkled some on top too.
The recipe is available here, on Brown Eyed Baker’s blog. I kneaded everything by hand because the dough was initially very sticky and my dough hook wasn’t that effective. In step 2, to do the “windowpane test,” grab a piece of dough the size of a walnut, roll it into a ball, flatten it, and then stretch it, rotating as you go to make sure it stretches evenly. What you’re trying to do is make a sheet as thin as possible. If you can pull the dough thin enough to let light through without tearing it, your dough has passed the windowpane test. In step 4, divide the dough into two pieces, roll each one out into a 8” by 12” rectangle, sprinkled with half the cinnamon sugar, and roll up from the short side. Place in the oiled loaf pans, seam side down. In step 7, I stuck a meat thermometer in the side of the loaf to check the internal temperature.
Stay tuned for part 2 (and part 3, 4, 5, 6, and 7) of my bread phase!