Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Cinnamon Spiral Bread

Happy Tax Season.

My sister works in an accountant's office and several of the people she works with are friends of mine. Usually at some point during "tax season" I start to feel sorry for that crew, who barely see their families and sleep even less in the weeks leading to April 15th. I try to make a point of sending a baked good their way. They seem to feel bolstered by it and I am a hero for about 15 minutes.

This year it's Cinnamon Spiral Bread. Here's Millie Whetstone's recipe from the Essenhaus Amish Country Cookbook, Vol. 1.

1 c. warm water
1 pkg. yeast
2 c. lukewarm milk
1/4 c. brown sugar, packed
2 eggs, beaten
1 T salt
1 c. raisins (or not, depending on your tastes)
2 T soft shortening
2 c. quick cooking rolled oats
5 1/2 - 6 c. sifted flour

Dissolve yeast in water, in mixing bowl. Stir in milk, rolled oats, salt, brown sugar, egg, shortening, raisins and half of flour. Mix with hand. Turn on board until light. Knead until smooth and elastic, adding remaining flour as needed. Round up in a greased bowl. Let rise until double in bulk. Divide into round balls. Roll out in oblong shape. Sprinkle with 1/2 c. brown sugar, 2 t. cinnamon, per loaf. Roll up like a jelly roll, sealing lightly at the end.

That is where the recipe ends, but let me elaborate. I find a lot of older recipes read like that. One used to assume that any cook who was to be trusted in the kitchen knew how to make a basic loaf of bread. So... what's missing from the recipe is how many loaves it makes (eh... three small or two largish), how long to bake it (maybe 30 minutes, but the real "timer" is the pleasing brown color) and at what temperature (I always go with 350).

On a related subject, learning the right temperature for the "warm" water or milk in which the yeast is to soften is a skill one really must learn early on in order to have confidence with breads and rolls. My baked goods were very hit and miss as a young bride and the reason was the unintentional murder of that flippin' yeast! Here's the key: Someone smart told me this and I've have had only yeasty success since.... The liquid should be the temperature of pee.

Oh, are we pretending we don't know the temperature of pee? That we've never held a baby WHILST he/she filled his/her diaper? Or a urine sample, for that matter? OK, for the sqeamish, write "body temperature" on your recipe card next to the word "warm." Go ahead. Write it now, thank me later.


  1. Now, I will never forget the right temperature for yeast. Perfect descriptor. And mmmm, Essenhaus. Can't wait to try this.

  2. Congrats on going public! I've never had much patience for baking yeasty things. Maybe I was killing the yeast too. I'll have to try again with my new temperature knowledge.


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