bake something! cinnamon bun bread

Let me just start by saying this is the best sweet dough bread recipe in my collection, the one I make for gifts and company and when I just want the heavenly scent of baking bread and cinnamon.  I clipped this recipe forever ago from Cooking Light.  It made if from the manilla folder filing system and into my recipe binder and finally onto my blog.  I use my trusty bread machine to make the dough and then shape it by hand before baking in the oven.  It's not tricky to mix the dough by hand and then knead it yourself.  Give yourself a little time and allow yourself to make a small flour-y mess in your kitchen.  Get your kids to help you roll out and roll up the dough.  The recipe makes two loaves which are basically three giant cinnamon rolls joined at the hip in your bread pan.  The recipe calls for butter, egg yolks, sugar and lots of vanilla in the dough and that's the key.  Those lovely ingredients are precisely the reason you do not need to brush the dough with melted butter or even put the icing on top when the loaves are baked and cooled.  All of that would make the bread useless in the toaster (and it's fabulous toasted) and would add all kinds of calories I'd rather consume just eating more bread.  I've adapted the recipe to include white whole wheat flour for a whole grain boost.  You can just use all-purpose flour, but try the white whole wheat flour (I use King Arthur flour and it's easily found now at Meijer and Super Target in Indy).  I know it's January and everyone is counting calories, make them count.  Eat real food!

I have a decided weakness for sweet dough baked goods and have used this dough to make cinnamon orange rolls, cinnamon rolls and most recently my version of Panera Bread's Holiday bread.  The last three or four years I've bought at least one loaf of Holiday bread for Christmas morning knowing full well that really only Kelly would share it with me.  This past Christmas I split the dough between one loaf of cinnamon bun bread and one Holiday bread.  I rolled out the dough and spread Apple Pie preserves from Froelich's in Michigan and sprinkled mini chocolate chips, raisins and coarsely chopped walnuts over the preserves.  Then I rolled it up to make a long loaf which I baked on a baking sheet.  The Panera version has a confectioner's sugar glaze and since you can't toast it with all the fillings, I'd recommend the glaze.  I'd also add either candied orange peel or freshly grated orange peel.  Forgot that this year, but will remember it next time.  It's a great dough, get creative!

oh, the possibilities for deliciousness!

Somehow I have no photos of this bread in all 17,000 photos in my iPhoto library.  I promised my brother-in-law and fellow bread baker, Jeff, that I would post this recipe so I'm going without the usual visuals.  Next time I bake it, I'll add some pictures to this post.  Have no fear, even though my girls are back on campus I'm still cooking and baking.  Tonight I was so hungry after work and yoga that I made turkey bolognese and a big loaf of harvest grain bread.  It's 9:00 and I'm still in the kitchen and I'm the only one home besides the cat.  Apparently I'll do anything to avoid the housework that's been waiting for me since before the holiday season.  It's not going anywhere.  As soon as I wrap this up, it's time to put my feet up and watch Modern Family off the DVR.  I've earned it.

2 1/4 tsp yeast (one package if not using bulk yeast)
1/4 C sugar, divided
1 2/3 C warm skim milk (usually heat in the microwave for 2 minutes at 50% power)
1/4 C butter, melted
4 tsp vanilla
2 large egg yolks
3 C all-purpose flour, divided
2 C white whole wheat flour
2 tsp salt

2/3 C packed brown sugar
2 tsp cinnamon

1 T butter, softened
1 C confectioner's sugar
1 T skim milk
1/2 tsp vanilla

To prepare bread dissolve yeast and 1 T of the sugar in the warm milk, let stand 5 minutes until foamy. If using bread machine add the yeast/milk mixture and the ingredients that follow to the bread pan and run machine on the dough cycle adding additional flour as necessary.  If making dough by hand, in a large bowl combine milk mixture, 1/4 C melted butter, vanilla and egg yolks.  Add 2 1/2 C of all-purpose flour, wheat flour, remaining sugar and salt to the wet ingredients and stir to form a soft dough.  Turn dough out onto a floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic, about 10 minutes adding additional flour a little at a time as necessary to prevent the dough from sticking to hands.  Dough will be a little tacky.  Place dough in a large bowl coated with cooking spray and cover with a tea towel to rise in a warm place, free from drafts until doubled in size (about one hour).

Punch down risen dough in bread pan or bowl.  Let rest 5 minutes.  Divide dough in half.  Working with one half at a time, roll each portion into a 14 x 7 inch rectangle on a floured surface.  Combine the brown sugar and cinnamon.  Sprinkle dough with half of the brown sugar mixture, leaving a 1/2 inch border .  Roll up rectangle tightly, starting with the short edge folding in sides and pinching seams to seal.  Cut the dough roll crosswise into three pieces.  Place 3 pieces, cut sides up into a loaf pan sprayed with cooking spray.  Repeat with remaining dough.  Cover loaf pans with a tea towel and let rise 30 minutes.

Meanwhile preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Uncover dough and bake at 350 degrees for 35 minutes until loaves are golden brown and sound hollow when tapped.  Cool in pans on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Turn out onto a rack to cool (or eat it warm, it's hard to resist).

Make the glaze by beating 1 T butter at low speed until creamy.  Add remaining ingredients, beating until just blended.  Spread over tops of loaves.


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