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Dough:
1/2 cup milk
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) of butter, cut up
1 package (2 1/4 teaspoons) dry active yeast
1/2 cup warm water (110 degrees, see below)
1/3 cup sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
3 1/4 - 3 3/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour

Filling:
1/4 cup sugar
5 teaspoons ground cinnamon
Milk for brushing

Glaze:
1 large egg
2 teaspoons milk

9 x 5 x 3-in loaf pan

Melt the butter and milk in a pan over the stove. DO NOT let that shit boil, or you will cry. The recipe says it should reach 110 degrees F, but hold up:

Your body is about 98-99 degrees on a typical day. Water boils at 212 degrees. The lesson? The milk and butter only needs to be a little bit warmer than you are. If it is at all too hot to touch, it is in fact "too hot."

If it's too hot, but you didn't boil it, you can just let it cool down a little bit. If you boiled it, throw it out. SERIOUSLY.

While the dairy is warming, get out your stand mixer. (If you don't have a stand mixer, use a wooden spoon and your hands) Mix together the water, yeast, and sugar.

Add the lukewarm milk mixture, and two cups of flour. Stir it until combined, about 1 minute.

This is where things get tough if you're doing it by hand: add another 1 1/4 cup of flour and keep stirring.

Use a dough hook if you're using a stand mixer. If the dough is sticking to the sides of the bowl, add flour periodically. If you're going at this by hand, I'd do away with the utensils and literally do it by hand. Keep adding flour sparingly until dough is no longer sticky.

After it's combined and no longer sticky, lightly oil a bowl and place the dough in, then flip it over. Let rise until doubled, about 2 1/2 hours. I used this time for a nap.

Once dough has risen, punch it. Take it out of the bowl and lay it on an unfloured work surface. Let it rest for 10 minutes.

Afterward, roll it out. It's easiest to start by pinching and patting it into an approximate rectangle shape. Remember that it can be max nine inches wide since it's gotta fit into your pan, but otherwise as long as it's about 1/4” thick you're probably okay.

Brush milk over dough. Mix together the cinnamon and sugar, sprinkle itover the dough. I like to put a little extra near the middle. Start by rolling the dough tight, you don't want this thing flopping all over the place. To keep the dough from stretching larger than 9 inches, just scrunch it occasionally. Once rolled, push the innards in a little and seal the the outside, then seal the long edge so that you've got a nice little pocket of cinnamon dough.

Place in the greased pan, and let rise for about another hour. Before you leave to take your second nap, set your oven to 350 degrees F.

After this hour of rising, bake it for 30-35 minutes. Bread should have a golden exterior. Just stick a knife in the middle to check for doneness, if you want. Let cool for 45 minutes.


 

Ingredients:
3 cups unbleached white bread flour (or, you know, regular flour)
2 teaspoons coarse kosher salt
1/4 cup cocoa powder (you can buy a special vegan kind like I did, if that kind of thing matters to you)
1 tablespoon natural sugar
1/2 teaspoon instant or other active dry yeast
1 cup cool (55 to 65 degrees) water (at least; may need more)
1/3 cup canola oil
Handful (or two) raw walnuts
Cornmeal or additional flour for dusting

Take all your dry ingredients except the walnuts - so the flour, salt, yeast and sugar - and put them in a bowl. Good. Now mix them together. Done with that? Dig a little hole in the center, so there's like a little well in the middle. Pour in the water and canola oil. Now mix that ish together with a wooden spoon. (I have this vague feeling that you're not supposed to make yeasted stuff with metal, so I used a plastic bowl and wooden spoon.)

Is it kind of wet and sticky? Mine was still a little dry, so I added maybe a quarter cup more water, and got a nice consistency. You want it to be soft and tacky to the touch, but we're not talking about cake batter here, so don't get crazy. Once you have some nice dough happening, toss your walnuts in there - I chopped mine because, I dunno, I like smaller pieces of walnuts, but you can do whatever you want. Fold them into the dough with your hands or the spoon - you don't have to do a lot, just enough that they're more or less mixed throughout.

Okay, now cover that stuff up with some plastic wrap (I like to spray the plastic wrap with some Pam first so it doesn't stick to the dough later) and put it on a shelf where you'll forget about for a while.

You're going to let this rise for 18-24 hours, until it's more than doubled in size - if it triples, that's cool. It took mine pretty much the full 24 hours to do this, but it will depend on your temperature and yeast and stuff. You should be able to see bubbles on the top.

When it's starting to look good, lay a dish towel out on the counter, and dust it with a handful of flour. Turn your bread out onto the counter, and mold it into a ball - you don't have to get intense about it, just enough that it's not like a pancake. Place this ball inside the dish towel, dust it with a little more flour, and fold the towel up around it. Leave the bread to rise again inside the dishtowel for about another two hours.

Start preheating your oven to 475 F - at least a half hour before you plan to bake, preferably 45 minutes or an hour. Before preheating, stick a Dutch oven in there - I've also used a casserole dish before with good results.

Important things to look for when fashioning a Dutch oven out of a casserole dish:
+ able to withstand high temperatures
+ is kinda thick
+ is big enough for your dough to fit inside
+ has a lid

Your dish needs to be hot (the lid too), so let it preheat along with your oven. When the two hours of rising time are up and your oven's fully preheated, you're ready to make moves.

As quickly as possible (but without burning yourself!) open the oven door, pull out the rack with the Dutch oven on it, and take off the lid. Unwrap the dish towel and dump it the dough out of it and into the Dutch oven, then put the lid back on the Dutch oven and close the oven door. Ok, awesome! Your bread is now in an oven inside an oven. DOUBLE OVEN OH MY GOD. SO INTENSE. WHAT DOES IT MEAN.

You're going to let it hang out in there for a half hour with the lid on, and then take the lid off and let it bake for 5-15 more minutes. The original recipe says 15, but mine was a little burnt on the bottom after 10, so use your judgment. Once your spider senses tell you the bread is done, take the Dutch oven out (carefully!) and use a heatproof spatula or spoon or whatever to remove your bread and let it cool on a rack or trivet or whatever.

 


 

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November 2014

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