Sometimes the lure of a traditional recipe is just what's needed. Though we don't all have a basic bread recipe that we can simply modify, if we did, the base bread of this beauty would be a good one to choose!
There is such a thing as too much information. There was a time when information came in a friendly trickle from reliable sources. We had a family, and neighbours and friends. They formed a solid foundation of wisdom and advice upon which we could stand with confidence. They knew what to do with a colicky baby, or a skinned knee, or a burn (butter, cold water, egg white, or that magical stuff in that old tin at the back of the cupboard). Get rid of a cold? The neighbours’ gran has a recipe for an asafoetida bag to hang around your neck to ward off germs (and anyone within sight). Note the word foetid, more recently, fetid meaning “smelling extremely unpleasant”. Not to suggest that all wisdom passed down through family lore is unreliable. Much of it is the shared benefit of experience. What to do if an egg sauce breaks, or if a chair leg gets wobbly, or a bee stings. How to best cook sweet corn – now that one will incite some fiery debate! We add some knowledge to suit the times, (just turn it off and turn it back on again) and allow some bits to recede into the fog of history (gratefully the asafoetida bag), but, for the most part, we can ask our elders and get a firm and confident response.
Or we could, at least, until that reliable burbly trickle of shared wisdom became a deluge, a hurricane, a hailstorm of information when Mr. Google came crashing into our homes, into our very laps. Suddenly the knowledge and accumulated wisdom of our home team was lost in the knowledge and accumulated wisdom of every home team everywhere in the world! Talk about trying to drink out of a fire hose! How can we possibly absorb, let alone trust all of this information? And it won’t be ignored! Sugar will kill you! Wheat will kill you! Pesticides will kill you! Genetically modified veggies will kill you! Tanning beds will kill you! Salt will kill you! Processed foods will kill you! Eggs will kill you! The list is endless and ever changing. If we’re not careful, we’re all going to die! Oh hang on…
Of course it’s convenient. If you have a problem, dozens, nay hundreds of people have made an instructional video on that very thing. By the time you’ve weeded through all the information about how to deal with a colicky baby, he’s probably in high school. There’s plethora of user groups, Facebook pages and forums on even the most obscure conundrum.
Bread is a classic example. Simple. Flour, water, salt, yeast. (All of which could do you in, of course, but let’s set that aside for the moment). I recall a recipe from the trusted lore of my forbearers that seemed particularly unhelpful. It read, “Add soaked raisins, nuts, cinnamon sugar and butter to your basic bread recipe and roll”. Hmmm. Soak my raisins in what? And how many? Cinnamon sugar? How much. Where does the butter come in? Roll where? And most perplexing of all, what is my basic bread recipe? I asked Mother. In a letter. On paper. I got an answer by return mail several weeks later. “However much of all you have or want to use. This recipe would with either a lean or a rich dough”. Obviously she had blithely neglected a chapter in my upbringing. The Internet definitely has its uses. Like the following beauty from easypeasymealz.com which, if you go there, even backs itself up with a handy video!
Cinnamon Swirl Bread
2 cups white all-purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp instant yeast
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup 2% milk room temp
1/4 cup granulated sugar
2 large egg yolks reserve whites
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup butter softened
1 cup powdered sugar
3 Tbs cinnamon
2 Tbs sparkling sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 large egg whites
1 large egg
1 Tbs water
Pinch of salt
In a large mixing bowl, whisk flour, yeast, and salt together in a bowl.
In a separate bowl, whisk milk, sugar, egg yolks, and vanilla together, until sugar has dissolved.
Using a dough hook, start mixing the flour on low speed, and slowly add the milk mixture, letting it mix until a cohesive dough forms. (About 2 minutes of mixing)
Increase the speed, and start adding your butter to the mixing bowl. You want to add it in little bits. I cut mine into cubes, and drop them in one at a time.
Continue to knead the dough with the dough hook for 10-12 minutes.
Transfer dough to a lightly floured surface. Knead by hand until smooth, about 30 seconds.
Form dough into a smooth ball, and place seam side down in a greased bowl, cover with plastic wrap. Let rise until increased in size by half. Approximately 1 1/2 hours to 2 hours.
Place in refrigerator, let the dough firm up. This will be 1 hour or so.
Rest at room temp for 15 minutes.
Roll dough out into a rectangle
Mix filling ingredients together by hand, then spread 9/10 of the filling over the interior of the dough.
Spread filling over dough leaving a boarder of a half inch around the edges.
Roll dough to form a cylinder, like you would a cinnamon roll. Pinch ends together to close them off.
Take remaining filling and spread it over the top of the cylinder.
Fold one end of the cylinder over to the other end, and twist twice to form a double figure eight.
Spray a loaf pan with non-stick spray. Place dough into the loaf pan, and cover with greased plastic.
Let rise for 1 1/2 to 2 hours.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees
Mix an egg wash together by lightly beating with a fork the egg, water, and salt.
Bake 40-45 minutes until loaf is golden brown.
Let cool in pan for 15 minutes. Then dump out, and cool for 2-3 hours before serving.
Add nuts if you have them and would like to! And a handful of soaked raisins perhaps!
Then do relax and enjoy a slice of this gorgeous bread and a cup of coffee while you google impending doom on your phone or tablet. We’re all gonna die somehow anyway.