Friday, August 3, 2012

Cinnamon Toast for Dinner, Every Night, Forever

My bagel-making has gotten out of hand.  I decided I needed a bigger mixer with a stronger motor.  I love my new mixer as much as any cook can. And it was totally fun to buy with a 20% off coupon and a $50 rebate.  I paid $309 + tax for this baby.
To be honest, much of my affection was derived from the 20-year love affair I've had with my first Kitchen-Aid, which is now quietly sitting in the cupboard.  No, I'm not giving it away, so don't ask.
I'm not ready to share my bagel recipe yet.  I am still on a steep learning curve there.
But my cinnamon-raisin-nut-whole wheat bread is now based on my bagel recipe, and I'll share that!

In a large mixing bowl add:
2 tablespoons shortening
2 teaspoons salt
3 tablespoons cinnamon
1 cup chopped nuts
½ cup uncooked oatmeal
1 ½ cups whole wheat flour
Place 1 ½ cup raisins in a glass bowl or glass measuring cup.  Add 1/8th cup water.  Cover with plastic wrap.  Cook 2 minutes on high in microwave.  Let cool.  This ensures that the raisins are big and soft.
Heat 1 cup milk for about 60 seconds in the microwave, set aside.





Heat 1 cup water for about 20 seconds in microwave, until barely warm.  (If you are inexperienced with this procedure, heat the water until a few drops on your wrist are the same temperature you’d feed milk to a new baby.)

To the water, add:
2 tablespoons yeast
    2 tablespoons sugar.
Stir and wait a few minutes, making sure the yeast is viable (proof) by watching for bubbles and froth.
Add milk and yeast to the other ingredients in the mixing bowl.  Add 2 cups of bread flour.  Knead with a kneading attachment, adding perhaps another cup or so of bread flour until the dough is a nice sponge. 
When the dough has pulled all the flour from the side of the bowl, add in raisins and let the hook knead the dough until strings of dough begin to appear, perhaps kneading for 5-8 minutes.  Don’t add so much flour that the dough is stiff and dry, but this doesn’t need to be a sticky dough. 
Cover the dough with a damp towel, or place the sponge in a tall plastic container with a lid.
Prepare three 8.5 x 4.5 inch bread pans by lightly spraying with oil. 
When the dough has doubled in volume, sprinkle about ½  tablespoon of flour onto a bread board and divide the sponge into thirds.  The dough should be very light and easy to work with.  If it’s not, then there are 3 potential problems.  The first could be a problem with your yeast.  Second, you added too much flour.  Third, you didn’t knead it long enough.  Proceed, but work on these issues next time.
Quickly shape each third into an 8 inch roll, and with the seam on the bottom, place each roll into a pan.
Place the three pans in a cold oven and close the door, letting the dough rise undisturbed.  Dough has a mind of its own, and this can take an hour, maybe two. 
When the dough has risen about an inch above the rim of the pan, turn the oven to 350 degrees.  Set the timer for 35 minutes. 
Check the baking process, but at 35 minutes the dough should be golden brown.  Remove the bread from the oven and then from the pans.  Cool completely on a rack.  Each loaf will fit nicely into a one gallon freezer bag.
I slice the bread before freezing and keep the bread frozen until I toast it, but if you live with a family, this might not be practical.
I make my own hot chocolate mix.  I mix one of these with
one of these.  One half cup in a mug of hot water is wonderful!
Seriously -- this is my dinner most nights, every week, every month, and it has been for years.