I can picture it like it was yesterday: coming home from school after the first day of first grade, sitting on the chaise lounge our back porch, surrounded by hostas and tall evergreens, as Mom made me slice after slice of cinnamon toast. She kept asking me, "Do you want another piece?" And I kept saying yes.
In college I made great use of the resources available to me in the dining hall, mixing cinnamon and sugar from the coffee bar to sprinkle on buttery toast. Though maybe "sprinkle" is the wrong word; the trick to great cinnamon toast, after all, is to pour on enough cinnamon sugar so as to go beyond simply saturating the melted butter. There is no reason, at least in my book, to be moderate with cinnamon sugar.
When I read that Peter Reinhart's cinnamon raisin walnut bread includes the option of adding a cinnamon-sugar swirl to the center of the bread, I, um, decided that I had to do that. No matter that the dough itself is already infused with a goodly amount of cinnamon; it is just crazy talk to let an cinnamon-sugar opportunity like that slip away. Of course, being a Peter Reinhart recipe, I am certain that the cinnamon raisin walnut bread is delicious even without the cinnamon-sugar swirl. But it's even more delicious with it.
The recipe makes two loaves, and Reinhart suggests mixing a half cup of sugar with two tablespoons of cinnamon to split between the loaves to create the swirl. Which doesn't seem like a lot of cinnamon sugar until you begin sprinkling it on the dough. Remember how I said earlier that there is no reason to be moderate with cinnamon sugar? Clearly Reinhart agrees: there was enough of the cinnamon-sugar mixture to accumulate into an attractive and thick layer atop the dough, which I then rolled to form into the sweet loaves. There was so much cinnamon sugar, in fact, that it found an apparent weak spot in the loaf while it baked in the oven -- erupting when I turned it out of the pan with a sort of cinnamony magma that I happily ate right off the counter when it was cool enough to touch.
Like I said, I've always had a thing for cinnamon sugar. It is not always becoming.
Now, I would be remiss if I did not mention that this bread is worthy of your time based on its other merits as well. Its cinnamon-rich crumb is studded with no small amount of plump raisins and roasty walnuts. Its crust is crunchy and sweet. It is really, really good, especially when toasted and slathered with a generous pat of European salted butter.
Which is how I ate it this morning. I felt like a first grader, home from a grueling day of study, comfortable on the back porch, secure in the knowledge that life is good and it is totally acceptable to consume a dozen slices of cinnamon toast.
The Bread Baker's Apprentice challenge asks that we do not post Reinhart's recipes. But if you have an almost unnatural love of cinnamon sugar, turn your copy of the book to page 147 and get to sprinkling.
Also be sure to check out additional cinnamon-sugary goodness!
- Flour Girl makes cinnamon sugar-encrusted cinnamon raisin cranberry rolls. Say that five times fast.
- Two Skinny Jenkins rolls out her dough even thinner for a more defined cinnamon-sugar swirl. Brilliant.
- Paul at The Yumarama Bread Blog considers raisin bread to be a "treat" bread, and plans to treat himself a little more often. Check out his excellent step-by-step photos.