People love cinnamon. It should be on tables at restaurants along with salt and pepper. Anytime anyone says, “Oh this is so good, what’s in it?” The answer invariably comes back, “Cinnamon.” “Cinnamon.” Again and again.
One of my least favorite cooking activities is grating. I just can’t seem to do it without hurting myself. I could count the times I’ve cut myself with an actual knife on a single hand, but give me a grater and a carrot and I’m hopeless.
Another step I’m not a fan of? The lowering of just about anything into boiling liquid. Despite any number of contortions of fingers, hands and arms, despite my having developed nearly ninja-like reflexes, I never can seem to avoid getting splashed.
If preparing food were all grating and boiling, I’d be the world’s most reluctant cook.
Fortunately, there is more than enough fun stuff to negate the not-so-exciting.
The employment of cookie-cutters.
Whisking eggs with a fork.
Whisking anything with a whisk.
Punching bread dough.
Really. What’s more fun than slathering?
The chance to slather, whisk, and punch dough are among the exciting tasks involved in the following recipe.
Eating the finished product is still probably the best part, though.
Cinnamon Sugar Pull-Apart Bread (from Joy The Baker)
Yields one 9x5x3 in. loaf
2 3/4 cups plus 2 tablespoons AP flour
1/4 cup sugar
2 1/4 teaspoons (1 envelope) active dry yeast
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter
1/3 cup milk
1/4 cup water
2 large eggs, at room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup sugar
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter, melted until browned
In a large mixing bowl whisk together 2 cups flour, sugar, yeast, and salt. Set aside.
Whisk together eggs and set aside.
In a small saucepan, melt together milk and butter until butter has just melted. Remove from the heat and add water and vanilla extract. Let mixture stand for a minute or two, or until the mixture registers 115 to 125 degrees F.
Pour the milk mixture into the dry ingredients and mix with a spatula. Add the eggs and stir the mixture until the eggs are incorporated into the batter. Add the remaining 3/4 cup of flour and stir with the spatula for about 2 minutes. The mixture will be sticky.
Place the dough is a large, greased bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and a clean kitchen towel. Place in a warm space and allow to rest until doubled in size, about 1 hour. *The dough can be risen until doubled in size, then refrigerated overnight for use in the morning. If you’re using this method, just let the dough rest on the counter for 30 minutes before following the roll-out directions below.
While the dough rises, whisk together the sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg for the filling. Set aside. Melt the butter until browned. Set aside. Grease and flour a 9x5x3-inch loaf pan. Set that aside too.
Deflate the risen dough and knead about 2 tablespoons of flour into the dough. Cover with a clean kitchen towel and let rest for 5 minutes. On a lightly floured work surface, use a rolling pin to roll the dough out. The dough should be 12-inches tall and about 20-inches long. If you can’t get the dough to 20-inches long… that’s okay. Just roll it as large as the dough will go. Use a pastry brush to spread melted butter across all of the dough. Sprinkle with all of the sugar and cinnamon mixture. Slather it, yo.
Slice the dough vertically, into six equal-sized strips. Stack the strips on top of one another and slice the stack into six equal slices once again. You’ll have six stacks of six squares. Layer the dough squares in the loaf pan like a flip-book. Place a kitchen towel over the loaf pan and allow in a warm place for 30 to 45 minutes or until almost doubled in size. (Note: Joy The Baker has step-by-step photos of this process, which may be helpful.)
Place a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees F. Place loaf in the oven and bake for 30 to 35 minutes, until the top is very golden brown. The top may be lightly browned, but the center may still be raw. A nice, dark, golden brown will ensure that the center is cooked as well.
Remove from the oven and allow to rest for 20 to 30 minutes. Run a butter knife around the edges of the pan to loosen the bread and invert onto a clean board. Place a cake stand or cake plate on top of the upside down loaf, and carefully invert so it’s right side up.