Monday, July 30, 2012

blueberry cinnamon swirl bread

Baking bread that stays soft and fluffy is no easy feat.  Neither is creating a continuous cinnamon swirl perfectly centered in a loaf of bread.  That's why baking bread is more of a once-in-a-while type thing rather than an everyday occurrence for me.  I haven't made cinnamon swirl bread in years and I knew I wanted to try it out again.  I went with a modified King Arthur Flour recipe because it featured some key aspects that I was looking for.  First, I wanted to bake a bread with a sweet swirl, not a sweet bread with a sweet swirl.  This recipe contained very little sugar in the bread itself.  And if you are concerned that there is a lot of sugar filling, keep in mind that it perfectly compliments the bread itself.  So in no way will the bread taste as sweet as a dessert when you eat it!  Second, this recipe contained potato flakes.  The use of potatoes produces a softer and moister bread.  This extra moisture is needed for my third reason.  Third, I wanted to use the addition of my Trader Joe's freeze dried blueberries rather than the use of more traditional raisins.  The extra moisture helps to rehydrate the berries without me having to do that beforehand.

Overall, you'll see that my blueberry cinnamon swirl bread did not have a perfect swirl; it's a little squiggly!  And that has to do with technique.  You must be quick with your fingers and roll this bread up nice and tight to get that desired look.  Unfortunately for my uncoordinated self, this will have to do but it still tasted good.  The bread on its own is great straight out of the oven.  But after a day or two, its best toasted and warm with a smidgen of peanut butter, jam, nutella, butter, or anything else you eat toast with in the morning!  Also note that my bread was baked in a 9" x 5" loaf pan, so it was flatter at the top and not as nicely domed as it would have been had I baked it in a smaller loaf pan which I do not have.

Blueberry Cinnamon Swirl Bread
Recipe modified from King Arthur Flour
Ingredients for one  8 1/2" x 4 1/2" inch loaf
2 1/2 teaspoons active dry yeast
1 cup lukewarm water
3 cups All-Purpose Flour
1 1/4 teaspoons salt
3 tablespoons sugar
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup milk
1/2 cup instant mashed potato flakes
1 package of Trader Joe's freeze-dried blueberries
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
2 teaspoons All-Purpose Flour
1 large egg beaten with 1 tablespoon water, to brush on dough

1) Dissolve yeast with a pinch of sugar in 2 tablespoons of the lukewarm water. Let the yeast and water sit at room temperature for 15 minutes, until the mixture has bubbled and expanded.
2) Combine the dissolved yeast with the water, flour, sugar, salt, butter, milk, and potato flakes. Mix and knead everything together—by hand, mixer or bread machine set on the dough cycle—till you've made a smooth dough. Adjust the dough's consistency with additional flour or water as needed; but remember, the more flour you add while you're kneading, the heavier and drier your final loaf will be. If you're kneading in a stand mixer, it should take about 7 minutes at second speed, and the dough should barely clean the sides of the bowl, perhaps sticking a bit at the bottom. In a bread machine (or by hand), it should form a smooth ball.
3) Place the dough in a lightly greased bowl. Cover the bowl, and allow the dough to rise, at room temperature, until it's nearly doubled in bulk, about 1 hour. Rising may take longer, especially if you've kneaded by hand. Give it enough time to become quite puffy.
4) While the dough is rising, make the filling by stirring together the sugar, cinnamon, and flour.
5) After the dough has risen, add the blueberries.  Fold them into the dough without crushing them.  Do not worry about an even distribution.  Then transfer the dough to a lightly greased work surface, and pat it into a 6" x 20" rectangle.
6) Brush the dough with the egg/water mixture, and sprinkle it evenly with the filling.
7) Starting with a short end, roll the dough into a log.
8) Pinch the ends to seal, and pinch the long seam closed.
9) Transfer the log, seam-side down, to a lightly greased  8 1/2" x 4 1/2"  loaf pan. Tent the pan loosely with lightly greased plastic wrap.
10) Allow the bread to rise till it's crested about 1" over the rim of the pan, about 1 hour. Again, it may rise more slowly for you; let it rise till it's 1" over the rim of the pan, even if that takes longer than an hour. While the dough is rising, preheat the oven to 350°F.
11) Bake the bread for 40 to 45 minutes, tenting it lightly with aluminum foil after the first 15 minutes. The bread's crust will be golden brown, and the interior of the finished loaf should measure 190°F on an instant-read thermometer.
12) Remove the bread from the oven, and gently loosen the edges with a heatproof spatula or table knife. Turn it out of the pan, and brush the top surface with butter, if desired; this will give it a soft, satiny crust. Allow the bread to cool completely before slicing.

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