Category Archives: Breads

Cinnamon Swirl Bread

Of all the myriad ways I describe myself and what I do, “bread baker” has consistently been pretty low on the list. I have gotten pretty good with cakes and cookies and even pie, but bread still isn’t an area of my expertise.

Cinnamon Swirl Bread

That said, I’ve been slowly getting into bread-making since the start of the pandemic. I didn’t jump on the sourdough starter train or anything (seemed like a huge waste of flour at the time), but I tinkered with no-knead recipes and have since posted two English muffin breads and a dreamy, decadent cheese bread. Today though, I’m tackling one of my favorite things in all of bread-dom, classic Cinnamon Swirl Bread.

Cinnamon Swirl Bread

Oh yes, I have loved Cinnamon Swirl Bread as far back as I can remember. Paired with butter or peanut butter, it was my dad’s go-to “feed the kids” breakfast when I was little, and it’s one of my many go-to “feed yourself before your blood sugar drops further” meals at the ripe age of almost-37. A few weeks ago, I tried my hand at making Cinnamon Swirl Bread at home and it turned out so well! Soft, buttery, cinnamon-scented and perfect for toast.

Cinnamon Swirl Bread

Cinnamon Swirl Bread is super simple to make and can be put together in about 4 hours. That may seem like a lot, but with two rises and an hour of baking time, the active prep is a little more than 30 minutes.

The base recipe is exactly the same as the one I use for cheese bread—it’s soft and buttery, like a brioche. It comes together in minutes and is soft, pliable and so satisfying to knead. Let it rise once, then roll it out like you’re making cinnamon rolls and scatter it with cinnamon, sugar, and a little flour before rolling it up for a second rise. Flour in the filling may seem strange, but it lends some structure here so that the cinnamon swirl keeps its definition through the second rise and baking time. I can’t take credit for this brilliant tip—shout out to the fine folks at King Arthur Flour.

Cinnamon Swirl Bread

This bread needs nearly an hour in the oven, until it’s tall and deep brown and smells outrageously delicious. If you want a perfect swirl for toasting and all, you should probably let your Cinnamon Swirl Bread cool completely. I know that’s a big ask and you’re probably (justifiably) going to ignore it, but someone might revoke my newly-minted bread baker card if I don’t say it.

Cinnamon Swirl Bread

But for real, if you’re not at least tempted to tear into this like a wild animal, we might fundamentally misunderstand each other.

That’s okay, though. More Cinnamon Swirl Bread for the rest of us.

Cinnamon Swirl Bread
Cinnamon Roll Bread
makes one loaf

Dough:
2 3/4-3 cups all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 packet (2 1/4 teaspoons) instant yeast
1 teaspoon fine sea salt
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 cup whole milk
1 large egg, room temperature

Filling:
1/3 cup granulated sugar
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon all-purpose flour

For Finishing:
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

Make the dough. In a medium-large mixing bowl, whisk together 2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour, sugar, instant yeast, and salt. Set aside.

In a small saucepan over medium-low heat, melt butter and milk together until just warm to the touch, about 95-110 degrees.

Crack the egg into a small mixing bowl. Whisking constantly, add the butter/milk mixture in a thin stream until completely combined. Add mixture to the dry ingredients and fold together. A shaggy dough should form and be pulling away from the bowl. Gradually add flour in 2 tablespoon increments until the it pulls away a bit.

Turn dough onto a floured surface and knead 5-6 minutes, until smooth. Gather dough into a ball and place it in an oiled bowl, making sure to get a little oil on all sides. Stretch some plastic wrap over the top and allow dough to rise in a warm, draft-free environment for 45 minutes to 1 hour or until doubled in bulk.

In the meantime, heavily grease a 9x5-inch loaf pan with butter.

Mix the filling. In a small bowl, use a fork to whisk together sugar, cinnamon and flour. Set aside.

Flour a surface and a rolling pin. When the dough has risen, punch it down and turn it out onto the surface. Roll it out to an 11x14-inch rectangle (about 1/8-inch thick). Sprinkle the filling over the entire surface of the dough, leaving 1/2-inch bare on all sides. Starting from a short edge (an 11 inch edge), tightly roll the dough into a cylinder place it in the prepared pan. Cover pan loosely with plastic wrap. Let loaf rise in a warm, draft-free place for 45-60 minutes, or until it peaks over the top of the pan. If you poke it with your finger, the dent should remain.

Meanwhile, set an oven rack in the central position. Preheat oven to 350F.

When loaf has risen, remove and discard the plastic wrap. Bake loaf for 50-55 minutes, tenting the loaf with foil if it is getting too dark. Test for doneness with a skewer—if it meets any resistance or comes out with dough on it, bake in five minute increments until neither of those things happens. To test for doneness with a thermometer, insert the end into center. If it reads at 190F or above, it’s done.

When the bread is done, brush the entire top with melted butter. Let cool in the pan for 15 minutes before turning it onto a rack to cool completely.

Slice bread thickly and enjoy warm or room temperature, or use it for toast. Cover and refrigerate any leftovers for up to a week.

Soft Cheddar Cheese Bread

Soft Cheddar Cheese Bread

When I was twisting up Lemon Morning Buns a few weeks ago, it occurred to me that the same soft, stretchy, buttery dough would make spectacular cheese bread. Long story short, I was right.

Soft Cheddar Cheese Bread

This here loaf is as rich as any brioche, layered with extra sharp cheddar, twisted up like a babka and baked to burnished, glossy perfection. It’s cheesy and buttery, savory with a hint of sweetness, and best served in thick slices at literally any temperature.

Soft Cheddar Cheese Bread

Seriously. Served warm, the cheese is super melty. At room temperature, all the flavors are at their peak. Sliced cold out of the fridge, it’s reminiscent of leftover mac & cheese, one of my favorite things on earth. (I know I’m not the only one who likes cold mac & cheese!)

This cheese bread looks much more difficult to make than it actually is. It starts the same way as the Morning Buns: mixing, kneading, and letting the dough rise. After that, roll it out into a rectangle, cover it with cheese, and roll it back up cinnamon roll-style.

Here’s where we get a little wild. Slice your rolled up dough lengthwise so that you have two long pieces. Twist those together and put them in a loaf pan to rise again—don’t fret if it looks wonky. Once risen again, give the loaf a good brush of egg wash and bake til golden, pausing partway through to give it another swipe of egg for excellent sheen. I like to hit it with a little butter right out of the oven too, just for kicks.

Soft Cheddar Cheese Bread

As with most baked goods, the most difficult part of this recipe is letting it cool long enough so that you don’t destroy your fingers and the roof of your mouth with piping hot cheese bread. It’s almost a risk worth taking. Almost.

Soft Cheddar Cheese Bread
Soft Cheddar Cheese Bread
makes one loaf

Dough:
2 3/4-3 cups all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 packet (2 1/4 teaspoons) instant yeast
1 teaspoon fine sea salt
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 cup whole milk
1 large egg, room temperature

Filling:
1 8-ounce brick sharp cheddar cheese, grated

Egg Wash:
1 large egg
1 teaspoon water

For Finishing:
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

Make the dough. In a medium-large mixing bowl, whisk together 2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour, sugar, instant yeast, and salt. Set aside.

In a small saucepan over medium-low heat, melt butter and milk together until just warm to the touch, about 95-110 degrees.

Crack the egg into a small mixing bowl. Whisking constantly, add the butter/milk mixture in a thin stream until completely combined. Add mixture to the dry ingredients and fold together. A shaggy dough should form and be pulling away from the bowl. Gradually add flour in 2 tablespoon increments until the it pulls away a bit.

Turn dough onto a floured surface and knead 5-6 minutes, until smooth. Gather dough into a ball and place it in an oiled bowl, making sure to get a little oil on all sides. Stretch some plastic wrap over the top and allow dough to rise in a warm, draft-free environment for 45 minutes to 1 hour or until doubled in bulk.

In the meantime, heavily grease a 9x5-inch loaf pan with butter.

Shape the loaf. Flour a surface and a rolling pin. When the dough has risen, punch it down and turn it out onto the surface. Roll it out to an 11x14-inch rectangle (about 1/8-inch thick). Sprinkle the cheese over the entire surface of the dough, leaving 1/2-inch bare on all sides. Starting from a short edge (an 11 inch edge), tightly roll the dough into a cylinder and set it on the surface seam-side-down.

Slice the cylinder in half lengthwise. Place both halves next to each other, cut-sides-up. Carefully twist them together. Place twist in one of the prepared pan. Cover pan loosely with plastic wrap. Let loaf rise in a warm, draft-free place for 30-45 minutes, or until it peaks over the top of the pan. If you poke it with your finger, the dent should remain.

Meanwhile, set an oven rack in the central position. Preheat oven to 350F.

Make the egg wash. In a small bowl, use a fork to whisk together egg and water.

When loaf has risen, remove and discard the plastic wrap. Use a pastry brush to brush the entire top of the loaf with egg wash. Do not discard remaining egg wash.

Bake loaf for 25 minutes. Remove loaf from the oven and brush the top again with egg wash. Bake for another 20-25 minutes, tenting the loaf with foil if it is getting too dark. Test for doneness with a skewer—if it meets any resistance or comes out with dough on it, bake in five minute increments until neither of those things happens. To test for doneness with a thermometer, insert the end into center. If it reads at 190F or above, it’s done.

When the bread is done, brush the entire top with melted butter. Let cool in the pan for 15 minutes before turning it onto a rack to cool completely.

Slice bread thickly and enjoy warm, room temperature or cold. Cover and refrigerate any leftovers for up to a week.

Cinnamon Raisin English Muffin Bread

Cinnamon Raisin English Muffin Bread

If you’ve never had English Muffin Bread, you’re in for a treat. It’s got all the craggy cornmeal-edged goodness of a quality English muffin, but baked into a loaf that you can slice as thick as you like and toast to golden perfection! It’s wildly easy to make—no proofing yeast or kneading, and only one rise *in the pan*—and it’s so good that I actually really love doing multiple tests on it. Don’t mind me over here packing my freezer with sliced English Muffin Bread. Nothing to see here!

Cinnamon Raisin English Muffin Bread

My recipe for plain/classic English Muffin Bread can be found by clicking here. Please treat yourself to a loaf or two, heavily toasted with lots of butter, and then come back for this Cinnamon Raisin version.

Yep, that’s right. Cat’s out of the bag. I’m a raisin person! I like them in cookies, carrot cake, and a chicken stew my mom makes, among many other things (though never with or when I am expecting chocolate). I am sure this is a giant waving red flag for some of you, but we all have our flaws, and mine is that I enjoy the occasional raisin-speckled baked good. I like dried grapes and I like them in stuff and I’m not going to feel bad about it, okay? Okay.

Cinnamon Raisin English Muffin Bread

If you are not a raisin person, I’ll get you with the next recipe, but this one’s for my fellow raisin enthusiasts and me. Because we know what’s good, and thickly-sliced, craggy, deeply toasted Cinnamon Raisin English Muffin Bread with butter is very good. It’s pretty outstanding with peanut butter, too, if that’s more your speed. I usually go with one slice each way—a single piece of toast is rarely enough.

Cinnamon Raisin English Muffin Bread

My favorite part of this recipe? It takes exactly the same amount of time and effort as plain English Muffin Bread, which is to say…not very much. You’ll need all of 10 minutes to measure, stir together and divide the recipe into two loaves, an hour to rise over the top of the pan and 30 minutes to bake. The absolute most important part of this whole process is not slicing into the baked bread until it’s completely cool. Just don’t do it! The bread needs the cooling time to set its hole structure, and will be dense, gummy and otherwise weird if you slice it while it’s warm. Resist the intoxicating smells of fresh bread and cinnamon! It’s for your own good. Your breakfast’s, too.

Cinnamon Raisin English Muffin Bread
Cinnamon Raisin English Muffin Bread
makes 2 loaves

For the pans:
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
3-4 tablespoons cornmeal

Bread Dough:
5 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (or bread flour)
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons Kosher salt
4 1/2 teaspoons (2 packages) instant yeast
1 cup raisins
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
2 2/3 cups warm water

For proofing:
plastic wrap
oil, butter or cooking spray

For serving:
butter
peanut butter

Grease 2 9x5-inch loaf pans with butter. Add cornmeal and rotate pans so that the entire insides are coated in a thin layer. Tap out and discard excess cornmeal.

In a medium-large mixing bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, cinnamon, baking soda, salt and instant yeast. Stir in raisins.

In a large liquid measuring cup (or other vessel) whisk together melted butter and warm water. It should be warm to the touch (90-110F) but not hot.

Whisk/stir wet ingredients into dry ingredients in two installments. Stir until a sticky, shaggy dough forms and flour is coated, then stir an additional 30 seconds to make sure things are saturated.

Grease your hands, then divide dough into prepared pans. Grease 2 pieces of plastic wrap. Lay them loosely over the top of each loaf pan.

Place pans in a warm, draft-free environment for 45-60 minutes, or until the dough has risen just above the tops of the pans. While dough is rising, preheat oven to 400F.

When dough is ready, gently peel off and discard plastic wrap. Dough may seem a bit wet and jiggly. Gently place pans in the oven and bake for 25-30 minutes, or until golden all over. The interior temperature should be at least 190F.

Immediately turn bread out onto a rack. Let cool completely so crumb structure can set. Do not slice into bread until it is completely cool.

Slice and toast before serving with butter, peanut butter, or your topping of choice. Leftovers will keep well-wrapped in the refrigerator for up to a week.

Blueberry Corn Muffins

Blueberry Corn Muffins

I don’t really like to tell people how to live their lives or what they should eat, but I have to make an exception. It’s important, I promise.

Y’all, you need to start putting blueberries in your corn muffins. Yes, the dinner-appropriate muffins I posted in the dead of winter. Those. Put blueberries in them and then eat them for breakfast or lunch, or even dinner, if you can get away with it.

Just do it. You won’t regret it. #peerpressure

Blueberry Corn Muffins

It seems obvious once you’ve thought about it. Corn and blueberries are great together! Corn is sweet and earthy; blueberries are sweet and tart. The two are frequently paired in salads in the summer months, so why not combine them in muffins, you know? This was my exact train of thought when I made these a few days ago, and now I’m just wondering why I didn’t make them sooner.

These Blueberry Corn Muffins are so easy to whisk together, and the payoff is outstanding. The recipe is the tiniest tweak on my original corn muffin recipe; I added a touch more flour and some vanilla for a sweeter profile without upping the sugar. Oh, and plenty of fresh summer blueberries, of course!

Blueberry Corn Muffins

Blueberry Corn Muffins bake up in less than 15 minutes. They’re soft, tender and perfectly domed, with a slight crumbly crunch from the cornmeal and bursting blueberries in every bite! While combining two already great things doesn’t always give great results, I am here to say that the union of corn muffins and blueberries is not to be missed.

I’ll say it again: you need to start putting blueberries in your corn muffins.

Blueberry Corn Muffins
makes 12 standard muffins

3/4 cup yellow cornmeal
1 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
1 cup fresh blueberries
1/2 cup milk (preferably whole), room temperature
1/2 cup full-fat sour cream
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted
2 large eggs, room temperature
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 400F.

Line a 12-cup standard muffin pan with cupcake liners, or grease well. Set aside.

In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together cornmeal, flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Set aside.

In a small bowl, toss 1 tablespoon of the dry ingredients with the blueberries. Set aside.

In a small-medium mixing bowl (or large measuring cup), whisk together milk, sour cream, butter, eggs and vanilla. Add wet ingredients to dry and stir with a silicone spatula or wooden spoon just until combined. Gently fold in blueberries.

Divide batter among muffin cups, about 4 tablespoons (1/4 cup) each; they will be pretty full. Carefully tap the pan on the counter five times to release any large air bubbles. Bake for 13-14 minutes, until domed and a bit golden.

Remove muffins from the oven and let cool in the pan for ten minutes before removing to a rack to cool. Serve slightly warm or at room temperature.

Leftovers will keep well tightly-covered at room temperature for up to two days or in the refrigerator for up to five. Muffins may be double-wrapped in plastic and frozen for up to 3 months.

Bostock {Toasted Brioche with Almonds}

Bostock {Toasted Brioche with Almonds}​

If you’ve ever seen fancy-looking Bostock in a bakery, you may be surprised to learn that it’s a snap to make as far as French pastry goes. The origin of the name is up for debate, but it’s sometimes also referred to as Brioche aux Amandes or “almond brioche.” All that is fine and good—almonds and brioche are enough of a selling point—but I was drawn to Bostock when I learned it’s not actually a pastry on its own, but instead a way to repurpose day-old bread. Yep, it’s the pastry equivalent of French toast! Bostock is nothing more than thick, day-old slices of brioche painted with simple syrup, topped with frangipane and sliced almonds (and sometimes seasonal fruit), and baked until golden.

Bostock {Toasted Brioche with Almonds}​

Permitting you are using store bought brioche, this recipe comes together very quickly. Simple syrup is made from equal volumes of sugar and water, and takes only five minutes to simmer. Frangipane, a sweet almond pastry cream made primarily of almond flour, sugar, butter and an egg, just needs two minutes in the blender. See? Quick and easy! Also, if you are more organized than I am, both elements can be made up to a week ahead—just make sure to let your frangipane come to room temperature before you try to spread it on the delicate brioche.

Assembly is easy as can be. Cut the stale brioche into 8 thick slices, then give each one a heavy brush of simple syrup and a luxurious smear of frangipane. Add some fresh fruit if you like, or don’t; I sliced up a nectarine for half my pastries. Sprinkle on some sliced almonds and bake your Bostock for 25-30 minutes, or until it’s puffed and browned a bit.

Bostock {Toasted Brioche with Almonds}​

One more wonderful thing about Bostock? You don’t have to let it cool completely! Definitely don’t eat it straight out of the oven, but go right ahead and enjoy it warm with a (admittedly heavy) dusting of confectioner’s sugar. It’s crispy and toasty at the edges, and the frangipane squidges against your teeth in the most satisfying way. Bostock is softer at room temperature, but still pretty dang stellar. I haven’t seen many people tell you to eat it cold, but I’ll admit that I like the leftovers straight from the fridge, too.

Bostock {Toasted Brioche with Almonds}​

Like its spiritual cousin French toast, Bostock is a genius way to repurpose leftovers into something much greater than the sum of its parts. While the classic recipe is made with brioche, you could give the Bostock treatment to a number of leftover carbs. Challah, stale croissants, and day-old waffles come to mind. You could also swap out the simple syrup for warmed jam—I’m absolutely going to try matching the flavor with my seasonal fruit topping next time! Saturday morning double cherry Bostock, anyone?!

Bostock {Toasted Brioche with Almonds}​
Bostock {Toasted Brioche with Almonds}
makes 8 servings

Simple Syrup:
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup water

Frangipane:
1 cup blanched almond flour or 4 ounces blanched almonds
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
pinch of Kosher or sea salt
6 tablespoons granulated sugar
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, cold-ish room temperature, cut into cubes
1 large egg
1/2 teaspoon pure almond extract

For Assembly:
8 thick slices brioche, preferably a bit stale (mine were from 1 14oz loaf)
2 medium sliced nectarines or other seasonal fruit (optional)
2-3 tablespoons sliced almonds
2 tablespoons confectioner’s sugar

Arrange a rack in the center of the oven. Preheat the oven to 350F. Line a rimmed sheet pan with parchment paper. Set aside.

Make the simple syrup. Combine water and sugar in a small saucepan. Heat over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until sugar has dissolved. Remove from heat. Set aside.

Make the frangipane. In a food processor (or very good blender), pulse almond flour, all-purpose flour, salt and sugar together. Pulse in butter. Pour in egg and almond extract, and process until frangipane is a homogenous paste.

Place brioche slices in a single layer on the prepared pan. Brush each slice with simple syrup, making sure to use up all the syrup. Spread about 2 heaping tablespoons of frangipane over each slice of brioche, covering the entire top. Press in fruit, if using, then sprinkle on the sliced almonds.

Bake Bostock for 25-30 minutes, until the frangipane as begun to brown in places. Let cool on a rack for at least 15 minutes before dusting with confectioner’s sugar and serving slightly warm or at room temperature.

Bostock is best the day it’s made, but may be wrapped and kept in the refrigerator for a couple of days.
Bostock {Toasted Brioche with Almonds}​
Bostock {Toasted Brioche with Almonds}​