Monday, January 2, 2012
Rainy First Day Baking
How did your 2011 end and your 2012 begin? Was it exiting and champagne-filled? Was it warm and cozy? Did you actually make that list of resolutions? I didn't make a list of life goals like I used to do, nor did I get all nostalgic about 2011. Mine ended with a hilariously silly and fun-filled January 30th at my best friend's house, eating delicious homemade food and playing the funnest, silliest games ever. Besides the great food and fun games, I realized that I was spending time with the greatest friends -- friends that I want to always ring out and in new years with.
And the 31st? Pretty quiet night in, a little visit to my parents', a bite of cranberry lemon curd bars and sip of iced cider .. and a quick midnight skate at the local community centre rink. It was perfect skating weather -- cold enough so that the ice wasn't drippy, but no biting wind to make the experience bitter. It was absolutely perfect. I haven't skated in many years, but I felt right at home. The rink was completely empty -- we were the only two out there, and it made me think about just how big the world is and how small our lives can seem. But as we skated and reminisced about years past, I came to realize that not matter how much we seem not the matter in the world, our actions, words and even goals and dreams that have seemingly small impacts can mean everything ... like a comfortable silence that can only happen between the best of friends, that quick call or text at midnight to let someone know you're thinking of them as the new year begins, the endless cups of coffee with sides of chatter and gossip that seem ordinary and routine, and the explosions of laughter that make your belly hurt but feel so good because you're amongst someone you love ... yeah, those are little things, but they certainly can have big impacts.
With that in my mind on New Year's morning, I wanted to celebrate this new found realization of mine with a bit of baking. And it was the perfect day to bake bread -- rainy and chilly. Not good weather for outside adventures, so I took the adventure into the kitchen and made some cinnamon bread with dates, raisin and walnuts to be shared with my parents, sister and best friend. I've made this type of bread before, but I actually goofed and while trying to fix my mistake, came up with something different and kind of cinnamon-roll like. I forgot to add two tablespoons of sugar into the dough -- I only remembered when I was half-way through kneading it. In retrospect, I probably could have just left it -- the dates and raisins are already sweet, but since it was supposed to be a treat for my loved ones, I wanted to add back a bit of sweetness. So ... I rolled the dough out just a bit, filled it with a good sprinkling of brown sugar and cinnamon, rolled it up again and cut out little buns. A lighter version of cinnamon buns? Yup. I pinched the ends of my rolls and baked them in muffin tins to hide the sugary swirl which was a nice surprise on the inside. But I bet if you just sliced and arranged in a baking dish, you'd have a lovely cinnamon pull-apart bread ... and maybe a citrusy glaze on the top wouldn't hurt either .. ?
Happy New Year!
Cinnamon Fruit and Nut Buns with Brown Sugar Swirl
adapted from A Chow Life
2 tablespoons of brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon
1 packet of traditional yeast
1/2 cup of warm water
1 teaspoon of sugar
1 cup of spelt flour
1 cup of whole wheat flour
1 cup of all purpose flour
1 teaspoon of cinnamon
a pinch of salt
3 tablespoons of melted butter or margarine (I used Earth Balance)
1/2 cup of water
1/4 cup of chopped dates
1/4 cup of chopped raisins
1/4 cup of chopped walnuts
1. Mix the brown sugar and cinnamon together in a small bowl. This is your surprise swirl! Set aside.
2. Mix together the sugar, yeast and warm water and let it proof for at least 10-15 minutes. Mine actually sat for about 30 minutes while we braved the rain to get coffee!
3. Once the yeast is nice and frothly, dump everything else in .. yup, everything from spelt flour to chopped walnuts. Give it a good stir to make sure everything is dispersed nicely. Keep mixing until a nice soft but sticky dough forms.
4. On clean, floured surface, with floured handing, turn out your dough and knead it for a good 7 minutes, adding additional sprinklings of flour if your dough is too sticky. Your dough should become a nice, smooth, elastic ball of goodness.
5. Let your dough rise in an oiled bowl, covered with a kitchen towel for 40-60 minutes (mine went for about 45). Your dough should double in size.
6. It's filling time! Punch down your dough and give it a couple quick kneads. Divide it into two equal balls. Roll them out to about a 10'6 inch rectangle. Divide the brown sugar and cinnamon mixture between the two. Roll them up nice and tight.
7. Now it's up to you! I cut out 6 pieces from each roll giving me 12 rolls. I pinched the ends of each roll to hide the cinnamony- sweet surprise. But you could leave them as it and bake up in a baking dish.
8. Bake your cinnamon-y bundles in a 375 degree oven. Mine were baked in muffin tins, and only took about 15-20 minutes. It would be golden brown and your kitchen should smell of cinnamon and butter.
9. Serve warm .. perfect treat with coffee on a rainy day.
BTW: I updated my Flickr ... finally!