A couple weeks ago, when we lamented the fact that the people who raised us and claimed to love us still didn’t find it in their hearts to provide us with the specific food products we yearned for (basically, we are all the Honest Toddler on the inside), I remembered yet another item on the denied list which was quickly added to my Writ of Grievances with my progenitors that I will carry with me to the grave and blame for all of my misfortunes, like that Amazon reviewer who said my cookbook was “tantamount to culinary fanfic.” Just kidding, I just took too many melodrama pills this morning.
But I do clearly remember a friend’s dad making us the most glorious thing for breakfast after a sleepover: cinnamon swirl toast with salted butter. The slices came from a package of bread with a brand name on it that we had in our own home, but only the whole-wheat kind, and as the full extent of the betrayal crystallized in my mind, I realized that this meant that my mother would go to the store, see the cinnamon swirl varietal on the shelf and reach past it for the one that tasted like sad. I
expressed my disappointment made my case to my mother when I got home but I was ineffective in convincing her that sugary cinnamon raisin swirl bread was an essential part of my daily nutrient intake.
Almost 30 years later, I’m mostly over it, really. Okay, I’m not. I mean, what if it had been made with 100 percent whole grain sandwich bread? Who could argue with the virtues of homemade bread with everything from whole wheat to rye, barley, oats and brown rice flour in it? And surely, something so unquestionably earnest deserves an inner spiral of indulgence, just one tiny little ribbon of joy. Surely, a slice of such a glorious thing popping out of the toaster tomorrow morning could make up for all sorts of hardships, like the fact that it’s still not spring outside, or why is someone climbing on my head before the sun is up? Surely, you’re not going to deny your inner or outer child this, not because they might whine about it on the internet in a few decades (cough) but because it’s spectacularly good — all the aroma of cinnamon buns baking, none of the nutritional void.
One year ago: Lentil and Chickpea Salad with Feta and Tahini
Two years ago: Over-the-Top Mushroom Quiche
Three years ago: Spaetzle
Four years ago: Breakfast Pizza, Irish Soda Bread Scones, Spinach and Chickpeas and Bakewell Tart
Five years ago: Migas with Tomato-Chipotle Coulis, Layer Cake Tips + The Biggest Birthday Cake, Yet and Penne and Potatoes with Rocket
Six years ago: Hazelnut Brown Butter Cake, White Bean Stew and Pasta with Cauliflower, Walnuts and Feta
Seven years ago: Skillet Irish Soda Bread, Lighter-Than-Air Chocolate Cake and Bulgur Salad with Chickpeas and Roasted Red Peppers
Yield: 2 2-pound sandwich bread loaves (in 8.5×4.5-inch or 9×5-inch loaf pans)
5 cups (635 grams) white whole-wheat or regular whole-wheat flour
Approximately 1 1/4 cups (160 grams) mixed whole grains (see suggestions at end)
2 teaspoons (14 grams) table salt or 1 tablespoon kosher salt
4 tablespoons (about 50 grams) granulated or brown sugar, or 2 1/2 tablespoons honey or agave nectar
1 large egg
1/4 cup (55 grams) vegetable oil or melted butter, cooled to lukewarm
1 1/4 cups lukewarm water (about 95 degrees; err on cool side if you don’t have a thermometer)
1 1/4 cups (300 grams) lukewarm milk
1 1/2 tablespoons (about 13 grams) instant yeast
1/2 cup (100 grams) granulated sugar
1 tablespoon cinnamon
1/2 cup (85 grams) raisins or currants
2 teaspoons (5 grams) all-purpose flour
1 large egg beaten with 1 tablespoon water
Make bread dough: In the bottom of large mixing bowl, combine water, milk and sugar or honey, then whisk in yeast until dissolved. Add egg and oil and whisk until combined. In a separate bowl, whisk together flours, grains and salt, then add this to the yeast-egg mixture. If mixing with a machine, combine with paddle attachment at the lowest speed for 1 minute. If mixing by hand, use a large spoon and stir for 1 minute. The dough will be wet and coarse; do not fret. Let it rest for 5 minutes.
If using a mixer, switch to the dough hook and mix the dough on medium-low for 2 more minutes. By hand, do the same with your spoon. The dough will seem firm and more smooth, ideally supple and sticky, but if it’s still very wet, add a bit more flour, a spoonful at a time. If it seems excessively stiff, add a little more water, a spoonful at a time. Continue to mix with dough hook or by hand for 4 minutes.
Scrape dough out onto lightly floured counter. Knead a few times, then form the dough into a ball and let it rest, covered by the empty bowl upended over it, for 10 minutes. Repeat this process — kneading a few times, then resting for 10 minutes — two more times.
Proof dough: Transfer dough to lightly oiled bowl with room for dough to at least double. Cover with plastic wrap and let proof at room temperature for 60 to 70 minutes, until doubled in bulk. Dough can also be fermented overnight or up to 4 days in the fridge. If proofing in the fridge, remove the dough before the fridge about 3 hours before you plan to bake it.
Prepare filling: Combine the sugar, cinnamon, raisins or currants, and flour in a food processor or blender, processing until the fruit is chopped.
Fill bread and form loaves: Turn out onto a floured counter and divide it into two equal pieces. Roll each into a long, thin rectangle, about 16-x-8 inches. Brush the dough with the beaten egg and water mixture. Sprinkle half the filling evenly over the egg. Beginning with a short edge, roll the dough into a log. Gently press the side seam and ends closed, and place the log in a lightly greased loaf pan. Repeat with remaining dough and filling.
Proof bread again: Cover the pan with lightly greased plastic wrap, and allow the bread to rise for about 1 hour at room temperature, or until it has crowned about about 1-inch over the rim of the pan, about 45 to 60 minutes. About halfway through, heat oven to 350°F.
Bake bread: For about 40 minutes, rotating the loaf once for even color. When done, it will sound a bit hollow when tapped and the internal temperature will read 190°F.
- About this bread: I’m long overdue to share a 100% whole wheat sandwich bread with you and this is a great one. [I shared a Light Wheat Bread with a mix of whole wheat and white flour nearly five years ago and promised to come back with a full-grain one but then I went and had a kid and then a cookbook and my brain hasn’t really worked right since.] You could entirely forgo the cinnamon swirl and make a lovely loaf, perfect for sandwiches. But why would you do a thing like that?
- About the cinnamon swirl: From King Arthur’s baking blog, I learned a great trick — brushing egg, instead of melted butter, over the rolled-out dough to adhere the cinnamon filling. While butter causes separations in the spiral, egg helps it stay together once sliced. They found that grinding the filling a bit helped it adhere, as well.
- Whole wheat versus white whole wheat flour: Either can be used here. I opted for the regular, darker stuff, but if you’re new to whole wheat baking, white whole wheat which is from a paler, more delicate variety of wheat, leading to less gritty, more delicate baked goods. I usually use King Arthur Flour’s version.
- Which whole grains to use: Peter Reinhart suggests any of the following for the 160 gram (he recommends measuring grains by weight) portion: rye flour, rye meal, rye flakes, cornmeal, cooked grits or polenta, rolled oats or oat flour, amaranth, uncooked ground quinoa, cooked whole quinoa, quinoa flakes, whole or ground flaxseeds (he recommends limiting this to under 30 grams of the mixed), or cooked brown rice, bulgur or barley.
- My whole-grain mix: For the whole-grain portion of the recipe, I used about 2/3 of the weight (100 grams) in 7-grain cereal mix and 1/3 the weight (60 grams) in dark rye flour. Standing in the grocery aisle, I’d been plagued by indecision about which new grains to buy, not wanting to further stuff the cabinet with ingredients I may not use up quickly, when I spotted the 7-Grain Hot Cereal from Bob’s Red Mill and had a “a-ha!” moment. Containing whole grain wheat, ryes, oats, barley, brown rice and oat bran finely enough ground that it could be added to a dough without precooking (it requires all of 10 minutes on the stovetop, cooked as cereal), this will be my new way of bulking up bread with whole grains without having to actually invest in 8 additional canisters, and it tastes great here.
- Recipe weights: Peter Reinhart uses slightly different weights for his ingredients than I do and I default to his here, in case you were the type of person to notice these tiny discrepancies. I tested the recipe with his; they work as perfectly as you’d expect.
- To halve this and make one loaf: Halve each ingredient. The only part that will be a headache is the egg. Beat it until loose and fluffy and carefully pour the first half into the bread dough. You can use the second half to for the filling portion.
- To make this without milk: Just use water in its place, or soy or rice milk. However, the milk makes the bread more tender and golden, so only skip it if you must.