My sisters and I watched the Sound of Music repeatedly growing up, and I found myself singing this song out loud as I made my breakfast this morning. I couldn't help but smile as I began to catalog my own list of favorite things.
Squirrels eating acorns. A peeled grapefruit in my brown ceramic bowl. Letters in my mail box.
Phonecalls from my family. Laughter and lemons. My husband's smile when he sees me walk through the door.
Dresses from Anthropologie (I'm sorry, Ryan). Pretty paper and pens. A freshly brewed cup of coffee in my hot air balloon mug.
Hugs from my father. Cards from my mother. Long walks in the morning.
But one of my all time favorite things is actually quite simple--bread. There is no food I enjoy more. To sit down with a toasted slice of bread, a slather of jam and a cup of coffee is heaven on earth.
And so as Thanksgiving quickly approaches, I am thankful for all of my favorite things and for the ability to pull one of these treasures from my oven each and every week.
Baking bread is a learned skill. It may seem intimidating, but after you make a few loaves, you'll find your confidence increasing. I know that mine certainly did.
I started with making a simple whole wheat bread, and I've since experimented with a wide variety of recipes.
This Cinnamon Swirl Bread rises well and tastes amazing. Growing up, Noelle and I would easily eat one to two packages of Pepperidge Farm's Cinnamon Bread each week. When I found a solid recipe for our favorite childhood treat, I was thrilled.
But taking my first bite? Well then I was in heaven.
This bread is rich and soft and perfectly spiced with cinnamon and sugar. Wonderful toasted with a slather of butter, this bread can make any morning magical. Although the instructions might seem a bit long, this recipe was a joy to work with it. I found myself humming out loud as my arms became covered in flour and my counters were sprinkled with cinnamon sugar.
I hope you all have a beautiful Thanksgiving. I will see you over the weekend!
*adapted from Cooks Illustrated
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup light brown sugar
5 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 1/2 cups whole milk, heated to 110 degrees
4 T. unsalted butter, (3 of them melted)
3 large egg yolks
4 1/4 cup AP flour, plus more if needed
2 1/4 t. rapid rise yeast (1 pkg.)
1 T. sugar
1 1/2 t. salt
1. In a small bowl, combine your filling/topping ingredients. Measure out 1/4 cup of your mixture and set the rest aside.
2. In a small bowl, whisk together your milk, melted butter, and egg yolks. In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine the 1/4 cup of cinnamon mixture, 1 TBSP sugar, yeast, flour, and salt.
3.Using your dough hook, turn your mixer to low and slowly add the milk mixture. After dough comes together increase you speed to medium and mix the dough until smooth and comes away from the bowl (around 6-8 minutes). Your dough should stick to the bottom of your bowl but not too the sides. You may need to add more flour to achieve this result.
4. Turn out onto a lightly floured surface and form into a smooth round ball. Place in a greased bowl, turning to coat. Cover with plastic wrap and allow to rise for about an hour, or until doubled.
5. Spray a 9x5 loaf pan with cooking spray. On a lightly floured surface, press dough into a 20 x 8 inch rectangle, with the short side facing you. Using a spray bottle filled with water, lightly spray the dough. Sprinkle on the cinnamon sugar mixture (reserving about 2-3 TBSP), leaving a 2 inch border along the top to seal. Lightly spray the cinnamon sugar with the water. Roll up from the edge nearest you and finish at the sugarless end. Pinch to seal. Place in the loaf pan seam side down. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and allow to for rise another 1 to 1 1/2 hours.
6. Adjust oven rack to middle position, and heat oven to 350 degrees. Melt 1 TBSP of butter and brush over top of dough. Sprinkle with remaining sugar, and bake until top is deep brown and internal temperature is 185 to 190 degrees, about 45 to 60 minutes. Turn bread out and cool on wire rack before slicing.
Anecdotes and Apple Cores