The three of us would gather around our kitchen table, talking about our days and licking off sticky globs of peanut butter from our fingertips. Noelle, my younger sister, would regale us with her simple impressions of her kindergarten classmates while my mom would show us the latest painting she had been working on. We would laugh and talk, and then if we were lucky, our mother would let us watch an hour of afternoon cartoons.
Cinnamon toast with peanut butter was also a snack that would arrive in our bedrooms after a battle with the stomach flu. Instead of munching on a piece of bland toast, my sister and I would always ask for the cinnamon variety. Although I could tell my mom was a bit hesitant to steer away from the BART diet, she always acquiesced, and we always recovered.
On Monday evening, I caught the stomach flu, and my sweet husband helped nurse me back to health with a lot of love, Gatorade, and "chickenless" chicken noodle soup. On Wednesday, I finally felt strong enough to leave our bedroom, and I made myself a slice of cinnamon bread with peanut butter and banana slices. As always, this simple snack restored my strength and brought comfort to my soul.
With this recipe I ended up making 3 mini loafs instead of one large loaf. I found that the smaller slices are perfect with a cup of tea or coffee in the morning. As you might imagine, the smell of cinnamon, brown sugar and yeast made my kitchen and house smell wonderful. We had a few guests over while I was baking, and the aroma of the bread was a delightful backdrop to our conversation. Thankfully, I was able to freeze two of these loaves, and I'm happy to say that they taste just as good as when they were fresh. So when you make a batch, be sure to set some aside just in case you find yourself needing a bit of "baked good" love.
1/4 cup warm water
2 1/4 tsp Active Dry yeast (amount in one regular package)
1 cup milk
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
3/4 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla
3 TBSP butter (vegetable oil is a fine substitute)
3-4 cups flour
3/4 cup raisins
1. In a small bowl, combine water, yeast and 1 TBSP brown sugar. Allow to sit until creamy (about 10 minutes).
2. In a large bowl, combine yeast mixture, milk, salt, sugar, cinnamon, vanilla butter and flour. Mix with a wooden spoon until just combined. Using your dough hook on your stand mixer, knead dough for 5-8 minutes or until smooth and elastic (adding more flour or water if necessary).
3. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and allow to rise for 1 hour or until double in size. Punch dough and divide into three small mini loaves (or one large loaf if you prefer). Place dough into greased loaf pans and cover with a damp towel. Allow to rise for 40-60 minutes or until the dough crests about one inch over the top of your pan.
4. Bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for 30 minutes or until golden brown. Allow to cool on rack before slicing.
Some notes on bread baking:
1. Creamy yeast? After active dry yeast has interacted with water and sugar, it will begin to grow. You will notice a creamy, slightly bubbly layer on the top of your water. As long as your yeast is fresh, this should happen within minutes. If the water and yeast remain relatively unchanged...you know you need new yeast.
2. Consistency of dough...what exactly am I looking for?
This takes practice. You will have to experiment a few times in order to get the right "feel" for your dough. If your just beginning, work towards a dough that is smooth, forms a ball, and is slightly tacky. (You should be able to press into the dough, feel a bit of a stick, but still be able to remove your finger without a glob of dough coming with it). If your dough is too wet, it will be unable to form a ball. If your dough is too dry, the ball will feel rough and not tacky. Add more flour or water accordingly (but in very small increments!)