On the 3rd Day of Christmas…Bake!

IMG_0433Is there anything more wonderful than bread smeared with butter straight out of the oven?   No.  Not really.  This nutty and fruity cinnamon swirl bread is my favorite bread to make around the holidays.  It combines everything delicious into one loaf; cinnamon, sugar, nuts and dried berries swirled into a soft, squishy and ever so slightly chewy white bread.  Don’t be scared of baking bread!  I know it can be daunting, so I’ve broken it down with photos to help make it fool-proof. 

Stir up 3 1/2 cups of the flour with the sugar, yeast, high gluten flour, salt and butter for 30 seconds on low.

Stir up 3 1/2 cups of the flour with the sugar, yeast, high gluten flour, salt and butter for 30 seconds on low.

Roughly chop up your cup of nuts and fruit.  I used a mix of cashews, almonds, dried cranberries and bing cherries.

Roughly chop up your cup of nuts and fruit. I used a mix of cashews, almonds, dried cranberries and Bing cherries.

After adding your very warm water (should be hot, but you can still safely poke your finger in it), you'll have a gloopy mixture that falls in sheets off of a spatula.

After adding your very warm water (should be hot, but you can still safely poke your finger in it), you’ll have a gloopy mixture that falls in sheets off of a spatula.

Add 1 cup of flour with the chopped nuts and fruit.

Add 1 cup of flour with the chopped nuts and fruit.

Continue to add bits of flour until your dough just comes together.  Don't add too much...err on the side of too little.  This is how I like mine to look after 5 minutes of kneading in the mixture.

Continue to add bits of flour until your dough just comes together. Don’t add too much…err on the side of too little. This is how I like mine to look after 5 minutes of kneading in the mixer.

Dump the dough onto a board. It will be very soft and still a little sticky before you finish off the kneading process.

Dump the dough onto a board. It will be very soft and still a little sticky before you finish off the kneading process.

Knead by hand for 5 more minutes, using only just enough flour to keep it from sticking to the board and to your hands.  Remember that the gluten in the dough takes a little time to develop.  The dough mostly comes together from the kneading, not from extra flour!

Knead by hand for 5 more minutes, using only enough flour to keep it from sticking to the board and to your hands. Remember that the gluten in the dough takes a little time to develop. The dough mostly comes together from the kneading, not from extra flour!

Pop it in an oiled boil and cover to rise for about 1 hour or until double.

Pop it in an oiled boil and cover to rise for about 1 hour or until double.

My dough was ready and doubled after 50 minutes.

My dough was ready and doubled after 50 minutes.

Divide the dough in half and roll or stretch out into a 9 x 18 inch rectangle on a lightly floured board.  Brush with a little water.

Divide the dough in half and roll or stretch it out into a 9 x 18 inch rectangle on a lightly floured board. Brush with a little water.

Sprinkle the dampened dough with cinnamon sugar.

Sprinkle the dampened dough with cinnamon sugar.

Tightly roll the rectangle from the 9 inch end into a log.

Tightly roll the rectangle from the 9 inch end into a log.

PInch the dough to seal in the goodness.

PInch the dough to seal in the goodness.

Tuck the ends under and place seam side down into a greased loaf pan.  Repeat with the other half of the dough.

Tuck the ends under and place seam side down into a greased loaf pan. Repeat with the other half of the dough.

Brush with butter and let rise, covered for another 40-50 minutes until doubled.  Here they are, ready for the oven!

Brush with butter and let rise, covered, for another 40-50 minutes until doubled. Here they are, ready for the oven!

Bake at 425 for about 30 minutes or until until a deep brown.  This is the color you're looking for.  Don't pull it out too early or it will be under cooked in the center.

Bake at 425 for about 30 minutes or until a deep brown. This is the color you’re looking for. Don’t pull it out too early or it will be under cooked in the center.

Let it cool a little while before tearing into those suckers.   Then proceed to eat the whole loaf in one sitting.

Let it cool a little while before tearing into those suckers. Then proceed to eat the whole loaf in one sitting.

Fruit, Nut and Cinnamon Swirl Bread

Makes 2 loaves

  • 5 1/2-6 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon high gluten flour (optional)
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 2 tablespoons butter, softened
  • 2 packages quick active dry yeast
  • 2 1/4 cups very warm water (120-130 degrees)
  • 1 cup roughly chopped nuts and dried fruit
  • melted butter for brushing loaves
  • canola oil or butter for greasing pans and bowl
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon

Mix 3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, high gluten flour, sugar, kosher salt, butter and yeast on low-speed for about 30 seconds.  Add warm water and mix on low for 1 minute, scraping down the sides.  Mix 1 minute longer on medium speed until combined.   Add 1 cup of flour, nuts and fruit.  Mix until incorporated and then add more flour, 1/2 cup at a time until the dough comes together but is still soft and slightly sticky (I only needed 5 1/2 cups total for mine).  Knead in the mixer on medium low for 5 minutes.  Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead by hand for 5 additional minutes or until dough forms a soft, elastic ball that is no longer sticky.   Place in a greased bowl and turn so the top of the dough is also greased.  Cover with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm spot for 45 minutes to 1 hour or until doubled.

Grease bottoms and sides of two loaf pans with oil, butter or shortening.   Mix 1/4 cup sugar with cinnamon in a small bowl.  Punch down dough and divide in half.  Roll or shape one half into a rectangle on a lightly floured surface, about 9 x 18 inches in size.  Brush the rectangle lightly with water and then sprinkle evenly with half of the cinnamon sugar mixture.  Roll the rectangle up tightly into a log, starting at a short end.  Pinch the dough to seal it up and turn it over, seam side down.  Tuck the ends under as you place the dough into a loaf pan.   Repeat the process with the other half of the dough.  Brush both loaves with melted butter, cover and let rise again for 35-50 minutes or until doubled.

Move an oven rack low enough that the tops of the loaves will be in the center of the oven.  I had mine on the second level up from the bottom.  Preheat oven to 425.  Bake loaves 25-35 minutes or until they are a deep golden brown and sound hollow when tapped.  Remove from pans to a wire rack.  Brush again with butter and let cool.

2 Comments

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2 responses to “On the 3rd Day of Christmas…Bake!

  1. Proceed to eat the whole loaf in one sitting – funny girl.

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