The Spice Bread Rises – In a swirl of orange and cinnamon
Another guest post by Meryl the self-confessed bread un-lover. Now obviously that is more than I can digest. Even if it’s the last thing I do, I have made a solemn promise to the God of breads that this little girl is soon going to be a fellow bread worshipper. So did the orange cinnamon bread convert her? Hmmm … let’s just say I spied someone quietly wolfing down some homemade bread instead of rice for lunch yesterday!!
Everyone loves carbs. We say we won’t eat too much. We say we won’t eat them after 8. Sometimes, overzealously, we even say we’ll go ‘no-carbs’! But if we really listen to our stomachs, we can’t go without them. I can eat rice and pasta by the plate fulls (south Indian and pseudo-Mediterranean genes at play). But of bread, in its various forms- loaves, roti, naan, parantha- I remain ambivalent. I have a little bit; a piece of roti, a bite of a burger, a slice of pizza, and I am done. No more, my stomach pleads. For me, breads bring back memories of the zombie-like days of college. Lazy, lazy days when you should be studying for that test tomorrow but you eat bread and jam and watch Andaz Apna Apna on Doordarshan. Hanging around the college canteen to eat masala cheese toasts. Endlessly eating slices of bread when the gas cylinder in our flat would get over and the replacement would arrive 3 days later. The gnawing hunger for junk food that inevitably led to ordering in pizza, night after night after night. Did someone say overzealous? It’s no surprise that 6 months after college I couldn’t bring myself look at bread.
So when Chow-party decided to make bread today, I could hardly muster any enthusiasm. She has a bread obsession. Breads are her babies. In fact, if she had a baby she would call him/her Bread. (This is no joke. Bread’s younger brother/sister would be called Butter. It’s true!)
I wandered into the kitchen and a few minutes later found myself rolling out dough, slathering it with butter and sprinkling it with a sugar-cinnamon mixture. Bread-making is a delicate task. It needs to be mixed, kneaded and proofed with utmost care for it to bake just right. I am not quite sure how I got sucked into making it. Much less why I sat in front of the oven staring at it lovingly and, later, ate half a loaf. The cinnamon and orange zest complement each other beautifully. Smear it with some butter and the siblings make for your daily dose of deliciousness.
Be warned: Whatever phase of carb-eating you are in, you will eat lots and lots of this.
Orange and Cinnamon Swirl Bread (Barely adapted from The Bread Bible)
1/4 cup warm water
3/4 tbsp instant yeast
1 cup warm milk
1 cup orange juice, fresh if possible, at room temperature
1/2 cup sugar
4 tbsp butter, melted
2-3 tsp orange zest
2 eggs, room temperature
2 tsp salt
6 1/2 to 7 1/2 cups ap flour
1 cup sugar (I used brown sugar to get the stark swirl)
2 1/2 tbsp ground cinnamon
4 tbsp butter, melted, for brushing
1. In a large bowl, combine water, instant yeast, milk, orange juice, sugar, butter, orange zest, eggs, salt and 2 cups flour and mix, either by hand or with an electric mixer, until thorougly combined.
2. Add in 1 cup flour and stir for one minute (use the dough hook from this point on if using a mixer). Add remaining flour 1/2 cup at a time until dough comes together into a firm ball and no longer sticks to the sides of the bowl. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead for an additional 2 minutes, shaping dough into a ball. We used a bit more than 6.5 cups of flour, then worked in around 3/4 cup more as I kneaded the dough. The dough needs to be springy, smooth and not too dry.
3. Place dough in a large, lightly greased bowl, inturn kept inside a big plastic bag like a garbage bag, to rise until doubled, 1 – 1 1/2 hours. (I find that the garbage bag trick works wonders in helping bread proof effectively)
4. Grease two 4×9 inch loaf pans with butter or oil.
5. Combine sugar and ground cinnamon in a small bowl.
6. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface and divide into two equal pieces. Working with one piece at a time, roll dough out into an 8×12 inch rectangle. It’s okay to approximate the size. Leaving a one inch border, brush dough with melted butter and sprinkle evenly with 1/2 cinnamon mixture. Starting with the shorter side, roll dough up tightly, pinching the ends and the seam together very well. Rolling with your hands on the edge of the dough will help maintain the shape of the bread as you roll it.
9. Place, seam side down, in one of the prepared pans. Repeat with remaining dough. Brush tops of loaves with any unused melted butter and place tins inside loosely tied plastic bags once more. Let rise for 40 minutes, until about 1/2-1 inch over the top edge of the pan.
10. While loaves are rising, preheat oven to 175 C.
11. Bake risen loaves for 40-45 minutes, until loaves have a nice brown top crust. We baked the loaves for almost 1 hour to get the colour we wanted
12. Turn out of pans immediately and allow to cool completely on wire racks before slicing.
Makes 2 loaves.