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My sister is a terrific baker. Her cookies are decadent and perfectly shaped, and her cakes are beautifully and flawlessly decorated. For her birthday a few years ago I gave her a copy of King Arthur Flour Baker's Companion cookbook. The book boasts more than 600 pages of delicious recipes from the King Arthur Flour company's test kitchens. She promptly began turning out tarts, waffles, cakes, and loaves of breads of every variety. A few months later she gave me a copy of the book for Christmas, and it quickly became one of my favorite cookbooks. It also contains the recipe to the most requested loaf of bread I've ever made.
Tucked between mouth-watering images of breads, cookies, and pies is a recipe for cinnamon swirl bread. I stumbled on it one cool October morning and decided to give it a try. Since then, I've tinkered with the recipe a bit and made it my own. I've baked loaf after loaf, giving the fluffy and moist treat to friends and relatives who suggest they wouldn't mind more frequent bread deliveries.
Unlike other cinnamon swirl breads, this recipe doesn't use melted butter for the base of its cinnamon-sugar filling. Instead, the dough is brushed with a beaten egg which acts to hold the bread and filling together to prevent unraveling (it always unravels a little bit, however). For those who don't like raisins and might want to omit them, keep in mind that the addition of raisins or currants helps keep the bread moist. The bread is good without the raisins but it's fantastic with them. I suggest keeping the raisins in the recipe and using them liberally. You might even consider doubling the filling for an extra cinnamon taste.
Cinnamon Swirl Bread
3 cups all-purpose flour
¼ cup potato flour
¼ cup dry milk
1¼ teaspoons salt
½ teaspoon cinnamon
3 tablespoons sugar
2½ teaspoons instant yeast
4 tablespoons butter
1 cup lukewarm water
¼ cup sugar
1¼ teaspoons cinnamon
¼ cup raisins or currants
2 teaspoons all-purpose
1 large egg beaten with 1 tablespoon water
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons sugar
¼ teaspoon cinnamon
¼ cup all-purpose flour
In a large mixing bowl, combine all of the dough ingredients. Mix until the dough starts to pull away from the sides of the bowl.
Knead the dough with an electric mixer for 2 minutes; allow it to rest for 15 minutes, then continue kneading it for an additional 5 to 7 minutes, or until it's smooth. If you're kneading by hand, transfer the dough to a lightly oiled work surface; knead it for 3 minutes; allow it to rest for 15 minutes, then continue kneading till smooth, an additional 8 to 10 minutes. You can also simply knead the dough using the dough cycle of your bread machine.
Transfer the dough to a lightly oiled bowl (if you're not using your bread machine's dough cycle), cover the bowl with plastic wrap, and set it aside to rise for 1 to 1½ hours; it'll be puffy, if not doubled in bulk.
Transfer the dough to a lightly oiled work surface, and shape it into a long, thin rectangle, about 16" x 8".
To make the filling, combine the sugar, cinnamon, raisins or currants, and flour in a food processor (mini preferred) or blender, processing until the fruit is chopped.
Brush the dough with some of the egg/water, and pat the filling onto the dough. Beginning with a short edge, roll the dough into a log. Pinch the side seam and ends closed (to keep the filling from bubbling out), and place the log in a lightly greased 8½" x 4½" loaf pan.
Cover the pan with lightly greased plastic wrap, and allow the bread to rise for about 1 hour at room temperature, or until it's crowned about 1" over the rim of the pan. Towards the end of the rising time, preheat the oven to 350°F.
In a small bowl or mini processor, combine the streusel ingredients, cutting in the butter until the mixture is crumbly. If you're using a mini processor, watch carefully; streusel will go from crumbly to a cohesive mass in just a second or so.
Brush the loaf with some (or all) of the remaining beaten egg, and add the streusel, using your fingers to gently apply it to the dough, being careful not to deflate the loaf.
Bake the bread for about 45 minutes, tenting the loaf lightly with aluminum foil for the final 15 minutes or so if it appears to be browning too quickly.
Remove the loaf from the oven, and after about 5 minutes, gently remove it from the pan.
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