Beauty surrounded the Daring Bakers this month as our host, Sawsan, of Chef in Disguise, challenged us to make beautiful, filled breads. Who knew breads could look as great as they taste?
This Shaped Cinnamon Sweet Bread was a darn fun challenge.. I really enjoyed the whole process and though I found tying the dough into knots a little fiddly, the outcome was hugely gratifying. It looked as pretty as a picture and tasted like.. well… nicely baked bread, so that’s always a bonus!
I encourage you to try the recipe. Don’t be put off by all the instructions – it really is easier than it looks! The process photos I’ve included are provided with thanks to Sawsan, our Daring Bakers’ host. The completed bread photos are my own.
SHAPED CINNAMON SWEET BREAD
- 1/4 cup (60 ml) warm water
- 3/4 cup (180 ml) warm milk
- 1 large egg
- 1/4 cup (60 ml) (60 gm) (2 oz) butter, softened
- 1/4 cup (60 ml) (50 gm) (1-3/4 oz) white sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon (3 gm) salt
- 3-1/4 cups (780 ml) (450 gm) (16 oz) plain (all-purpose) flour, approximately
- 2 teaspoons (10 ml) (8 gm) dry yeast
- 1/4 teaspoon (1 gm) cardamom, optional
- For topping
- 1/4 cup (60 ml) of milk
- 1 tablespoon (15 gm) (1/2 oz) sugar
Between the layers
- 1/2 stick (4 tablespoons) (1/4 cup) (60 ml) (60 gm) (2 oz) butter
- 4 tablespoons (60 ml) (25 gm) (1 oz) cinnamon
- 1/2 cup (120 ml) (100 gm) (3-1/2 oz) sugar
- 1 can (400 gm) (14 oz) sweetened condensed milk
- In a bowl whisk the egg with milk, water, sugar, butter and yeast. Set aside.
- In another bowl sift the flour* (see note 1 at bottom of post) with the salt and the optional cardamom.
- Add the liquid ingredients to the dry ingredients and knead until you get a smooth dough.
- Place the dough in a bowl you have brushed with some oil and cover it with a wet cloth and leave it in a warm place to double. (If you are tight on time you can heat your oven to 390°F/200°C then turn it off and place your dough in a glass bowl and place it in the warm oven with the wet cloth covering the bowl). If you can, leave it for 1-2 hours.
- Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Divide the dough into 4 parts. Roll each part into a circle at least 20 cm (8 inch) in diameter.
- Brush the first layer with butter then sprinkle with sugar and cinnamon. Place the second layer on the first layer repeat the brushing and sprinkling and then do the same with the third layer. Top with the fourth layer, this time only brush it with butter.
- Using a knife make cuts that divide the dough circles into 8 triangles. Make cuts that go 2/3 of the way in the middle of each triangle. The cuts should not reach the base of the triangle.
- Take the tip of each triangle and insert it into the cut you made and pull it from the underside. Arrange the triangles on your baking sheet. Pinch the two angles at the base of the triangle together. Roll a small piece of dough into a rope then form it into a little coil and place it in the centre where the heads of the triangles meet (see my image at the top of the post). Brush the dough with milk.
- Allow to rest for 15 minutes during which you would heat your oven to very hot 460°F/240°C/gas mark 9 (rack in the middle). Bake for 5 minutes, then lower the temperature to moderately hot 390°F/200°C/gas mark 6 and bake for 15-20 more minutes until golden brown.* (See note 2 at bottom of post).
- Take it out of the oven and allow to cool for 5 minutes then transfer to a wire rack and drizzle with sweetened condensed milk while it is still warm. Each ‘petal’ of the flower is an individual serving and can be prised apart fairly easily, though you may need to cut through the areas where the dough has fused. Serve individual portions with extra sweetened condensed milk. And one lucky person gets to eat the ‘coil’ which is a scrumptious and tender little ball of bread, perfect for dunking!
Note 1: This recipe requires between 3-1/4 and 3-1/2 cups of flour depending on the weather, humidity and the flour brand. Start with 3-1/4 cups and if you feel that the dough is too soft, add the extra 1/4 cup.
Note 2: (If the top of the bread is not golden brown by the end of the baking time and you have a broiler (grill) in your oven, turn on the broiler (grill) for a couple of minutes until the bread is golden brown on top. If on the other hand the top is getting too dark, consider lowering the oven temperature and covering the top of the bread with silver foil to stop it from over browning).
Food Photography Info: Canon 550D (EOS Rebel T2i); Top image – Canon 18-55mm lens; Second image – Canon 50mm 1.8 lens / Natural lighting