When it’s cold outside, there are few nicer comforts than a batch of bread baking in the oven, warming the house with its delicious aroma. This is improved only with the addition of cinnamon, creating a magic elixir of bread and spice that radiates comfort. I decided to take my standby white bread recipe – Julia Child’s, of course – and add some warm cinnamon to the mix, creating a swirled loaf that’s perfect for our morning toast.
It’s a simple dough, made easier if you have a stand mixer with a hook attachment. If not, knead it by hand until smooth and elastic.
Roll or pat it into a rectangle to sprinkle with cinnamon-sugar – or change it up and make a swirled cheese bread by scattering it with garlic and grated cheddar.
When it comes out of the oven, make sure you have butter on hand.
Adapted from Julia Child’s White Sandwich Bread
2 1/2 cups warm water
1 Tbsp. active dry yeast
1 Tbsp. sugar
6 1/2-7 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp. salt
1/4 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup sugar
2 tsp. cinnamon
Pour 1/2 cup of the water into a bowl (preferably that of a stand mixer) and stir in the yeast and sugar. Let sit for 5 minutes, unit foamy. (If the yeast doesn’t do anything, toss it out and buy fresh yeast.)
Add the rest of the water and 3 1/2 cups of the flour. Stir until well blended. Add the rest of the flour, the salt and butter and stir with the dough hook (or by hand) until well combined and shaggy. Continue to knead (I let the dough hook go for about 8 minutes, poking it down once in awhile) until it’s smooth and elastic. You could do this by hand, too. If you used the dough hook, turn the dough out onto the countertop and knead a few times to make sure it’s evenly smooth.
Shape it into a ball and put it back into the bowl. Cover with a tea towel and let it sit for 1 1 1/2 hours, until it’s doubled in size.
Butter two 4³x8³ loaf pans. Punch the dough down (love that part!) and pat each piece into a rectangle that’s about 9³x12³ or a bit bigger than a standard piece of paper. In a small bowl, stir together the sugar and cinnamon; sprinkle half evenly over each piece of dough.
Starting at a short end, loosely roll up each loaf, pinching the ends shut. Place seam side down in the loaf pans, tucking the ends in. Cover with the tea towel again and leave them for an hour, until they puff right up out of the pan.
Preheat the oven to 375°F and put the rack in the middle of the oven. Bake for 30-35 minutes, until the loaves are honey brown. Immediately turn the loaves out of their pans and onto a rack to cool.
Makes 2 loaves.