I’ve been baking bread since I was small. My mom baked bread a lot when we were kids and my sister and I used to have fun helping (dressed in our matching chef’s hats and aprons, of course).
Nicole (Nickle, back then) on the left and Penny and the right.
At some point, I took things into my own hands and started baking my own bread. Cinnamon Swirl bread, to be exact. For whatever reason, once I learned how to make that, it was the only bread I made for years. It wasn’t until we moved overseas a few years ago that I was bitten by the breadmaking bug (actually, attacked is more like it!). I will never stop making the cinnamon swirl bread but I’ve since branched out into all types of bread from standard whole wheat sandwich loaves to focaccia to sourdough (my latest obsession!).
There is nothing in the world like the smell of bread baking in the oven and nothing more satisfying than cutting into a loaf and knowing that you created it with your own two hands.
Here is my old standby, adapted from Better Homes and Gardens Homemade Bread Cook Book (1973):
Cinnamon Swirl Loaf
7 to 7 1/2 C. all-purpose flour
2 packages active dry yeast or 2 t. instant or rapid-rise yeast
2 C. milk
1/2 C. sugar
1/2 C. shortening (I generally use butter)
2 t. salt
1/2 C. sugar
2 t. ground cinnamon
In large mixer bowl combine 3 1/2 cups of the flour and the yeast. In saucepan heat milk, 1/2 cup sugar, shortening and salt just till warm (115 – 120 degrees), stirring constantly to melt shortening. Add to dry mixture in mixing bowl; add eggs. Beat at low speed with electric mixer for 1/2 minute, scraping sides of bowl constantly. Beat 3 minutes at high speed. By hand, stir in enough of the remaining flour to make a moderately soft dough. Turn out on lightly floured surface and knead till smooth and elastic (5 -8 minutes). Shape into a ball. Place in lightly greased bowl, turning once to grease surface.
Cover; let rise in warm place till double (about 1 hour). Punch dough down; turn out on lightly floured surface. Divide in half. Cover; let rest 10 minutes. Roll each half into a 15×7-inch rectangle. Brush entire surface with water.
Combine the 1/2 cup sugar with the ground cinnamon. Spread each rectangle with half the sugar-cinnamon mixture. Roll dough up as for jelly roll, beginning with narrow side. Seal long edge and ends by pinching together. Place, sealed side down, in 2 greased 9x5x3-inch loaf pans. Cover and let rise in warm place till almost double (35 to 45 minutes). Bake at 375 degrees till done, 35 to 40 minutes. (If crust browns too quickly, cover with foil last 15 minutes of baking.) Remove bread from pans and cool on wire racks. Makes 2 loaves.
My favorite way to eat this bread (other than right out of the oven with tons of butter) is toasted with tons of butter!