Thursday, December 8, 2011

Comfort and Joy!

Song Pairing:
Sleigh Ride by Relient K
Cinnamon Rolls, Cinnamon Bread - whenever you mix bread with butter, sugar, and cinnamon and gooey icing - you know it's gonna be a good day!  I have a cinnamon roll recipe that I have used for over 20 years.  But, lately, I've had some new options come my way and I've started tinkering!  What I've done today is marry parts of a recipe and methodology of a bread from one of my favorite blogs with some of the ingredients from my usual recipe.  I think the union is grand!  And that's just what Relient K has done with my song choice of the day.  I wanted a song with something a little "spicy" and settled on their rendition of Sleigh Ride.  Don't be fooled by the calm beginning.  They kick it up and it makes you want to go out and feel the cold air in your face by way of sleighing and sledding!  And when you're done?  Come in, peel off a piece, and sink your teeth into gooey, hot, cinnamon bread.  Giddy-up, let's go!

Oddly enough, I don't really remember having cinnamon rolls very often as a kid.  I received my dosage of cinnamon in flaky, filled cookies, sprinkled on top of oatmeal or toast, or my absolute favorite - rice pudding!!!  (I'll definitely have to blog about that some day.)  But, cinnamon rolls or bread?  It doesn't stand out.

I was blown away, however, when we went to visit my husband's cousin.  His wife's cinnamon rolls were exactly what I thought cinnamon rolls should be!  Soft, moist, perfect amount of cinnamon to sugar, buttery, with a tasty icing - but not so much that it overpowers the rest of the bun.  This was in the day when breads were a mystery to me.  She, being a farm girl raised in Idaho, knew bread like nobody's business.  She shared her recipe and gave me a quick tutorial right there while we enjoyed the final product.  I couldn't wait to try it!  And, hey, they worked out great!

Then, one day last Spring, I was reading 'Whisk Kid', an awesome food blog by a remarkable college student, and she served up this "Orange Pull-Apart Bread."  Genius!!  I hurried and made several as I knew I'd be wanting to share this!  It was well-received and, come on, you can't deny the wow factor!

This holiday season, as I contemplated what I would be putting in my friend and family gift boxes, I got the idea to use this bread recipe and assembling procedure combined with my cinnamon roll filling instead of the citrus.  I also kept to the cinnamon theme by making a cinnamony glaze for the top.  I made mini loaves so I got about 4 out of a single batch which makes one 5 x 9 loaf.  I've included lots of photos along the way!  So "let's take the road before us and sing a chorus or two" while we bake away and fill our homes with the aroma of 
comfort and joy!

Cinnamon Pull-Apart Bread
adapted from a recipe by Whisk Kid
Printable Recipe Card
2 1/2 c. (350 g) flour, divided
1/4 c. (50 g) sugar
2 1/4 t. instant yeast (1 envelope)
1/2 t. salt
5 T. (75 g) milk
1/4 c. (55 g) butter, softened
1/4 c (60 g) water
1 1/2 t. vanilla
2 eggs, room temperature

1 cup sugar
1 cup brown sugar
1 1/2 t. cinnamon
3/4 - 1 c. butter, softened

1 c. powdered sugar
2 T. butter, melted
1/2 t. cinnamon

Combine 2 cups (284 g) of the flour with the sugar, yeast, and salt in a mixer bowl.  Whisk and set aside.

Put the softened butter and all of the milk in a small microwaveable bowl and heat, stirring about every 20 - 30 seconds.  When the butter melts it's ready.  Let cool for a minute then stir in the water and vanilla.

Pour the butter mixture in with the dry ingredients and, using a paddle attachment, stir until evenly combined.  Add the eggs, one at a time, making sure each one is mixed in before adding the next.  Replace the paddle with the dough hook, add the remaining flour, and mix until smooth.  Don't be tempted to add too much flour.  As it kneads it will firm up a bit.  Knead for five minutes.

Place the dough in an oiled bowl (I use cooking spray), give it a turn to coat, and then cover with plastic wrap (I also spray the side of the wrap that is next to dough so it doesn't stick.)  Set in a cozy, warm place

and let raise until double - like this

It only took about 45 minutes.

While the dough is raising, prepare your pan(s) by spraying with cooking spray.

I also prepared my counter by putting tape down with arrows to mark the size of the area I needed to roll my dough to, being mindful to fold over one edge of the tape to make removal easy when I was done.  I placed them out of the actual rolling area, but they served as guidelines as to just what a 20 x 12 inch area looked like.

I photoshopped in those checks on the other side of the counter, just to give you an idea where the other arrows were.  You don't have to mark your counter, I just found it helpful and thought I'd pass on the tip!

Give your rolling surface a good sprinkling of flour.  When the dough has finished rising, plop it out onto your floured surface and roll to a 20 x 12 inch rectangle.

Mix the softened butter, sugars, and cinnamon until well combined and of a consistency that will spread easily so you don't tear your dough.  Spread the filling all over the dough, trying to be as even as you can.

Mixing the butter and sugars together helps the dry ingredients stick to the dough better as you are cutting and stacking.  Otherwise the sugars spill out everywhere.  I know this from experience.  Trust me.

Cut the dough into five 5 x 12 inch strips.

If you are making a single loaf, this is where you proceed straight to the stacking.  For those making mini loaves like mine, you'll want to create five more strips like this.

See?  Not too hard, right?

Now we're going to stack these strips on top of each other, making sure that you don't put plain backs to plain backs.  There should be cinnamon butter touching the backs of each strip like this:

I know - it looks gnarly, right?  But, It's ok.  It only adds to the appeal of the finished product.

Now we're going to cut the stacks into six smaller stacks (both mini and single loaf) like this:

If it seems too hard to eyeball six segments, simply cut it in half, then cut those halves into thirds - that gives you six!

Now we're going to stand each of these cut stacks on edge and line them up in our loaf pan(s).

Take your fingertips and gently fan out the tops a little.  Spray a piece of plastic wrap and cover the loaves and let rise for about 45 minutes to one hour.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Bake the single loaf for 30 - 35 minutes and the minis for 20, turning halfway through baking.  You'll know they are done when their tops are golden brown.  Allow to cool.

For icing, place powdered sugar in a bowl with enough room to stir well.  Add a bit of milk a tablespoon at a time until desired consistency is reached.  Stir in the melted butter.  Adding butter to your icing gives it a velvety texture and enhances the overall flavor.  Some icings can be sort of chalky or gritty with a strong powdered sugar flavor.  Butter takes that away.  Add the cinnamon and stir well.  Place in a disposable pastry bag or storage bag, snip off a small corner and go to town drizzling squiggles over the top, letting the icing ooze down into the crooks and crannies that this loaf creates.  

Your friends will be calling "Yoo Hoo!"


  1. Such a smart idea! I can imagine that this is a big hit :D

  2. Thank you, Kaitlin! Keep inspiring! You are a "whizk" kid, for sure!

  3. oh so yummy! The bread was absolutely delicious! Thank you for sharing you wonderful recipe :)

  4. I have a ton of these baby loaf pans left over from something or other. What size are these exactly? (inches?). There are a couple of sizes out there. I could get all of those leaf pans out of the cupboard and give yummy gifts at the same time. "Woo hoo!" Ciel