I’ve been wrapped in cinnamon for the past week as part of the BBA Challenge, so here’s a double-barreled post on Cinnamon buns and Cinnamon raisin walnut bread. Both breads were relatively easy to make (though not without their challenges, as described below), and surprisingly I was more fond of the raisin walnut bread than the cinnamon buns! Not much of a raisin-lover myself, I really enjoyed the little pockets of grape glucose that the raisins brought to the loaf, perfectly complementing the earthiness of the nuts and the cinnamon.
After braiding bread dough, the cinnamon breads required a fair amount of rolling, particularly for the cinnamon buns. The task was more challenging than I expected, probably because of the larger (18 x 9 inches) slab of soft, pliable dough I had to work with. Its width meant that, unless I had super wide hands (or an extra pair in the kitchen), it was going to be challenging to achieve a consistent, cigar-like shape throughout the loaf. The cinnamon sugar wasn’t much help either as it prevented the dough from adhering to the interior.
I ended up making the buns twice, as I wasn’t too happy with how they turned out the first time around; they were inconsistently shaped and the cinnamon sugar wasn’t well-distributed across all the rolls. The second time, I paid more attention to how I rolled the dough, and worked quickly to maintain the loaf’s shape before it unfurled on itself.
It didn’t turn out all too badly (they actually look like rolls!), although the texture was a little too chewy compared with the first batch. I had probably rolled out the dough too thin – Reinhart advises for a 2/3-inch thickness at a minimum for soft and plump buns – so I clearly have room for improvement on my powers of visual estimation!
Although initially hesitant about glazing the buns, fearing a sugar overload, it (fortunately) wasn’t so. I adapted Reinhart’s recipe, substituting vanilla extract for the lemon/orange essence originally asked for and it went very well with the cinnamon. Not sure if I’ll make this bread again, but it’s definitely good practice for roll-shaping!
Cinnamon Raisin Walnut Bread
This is a pretty straightforward bread that can be made in half a day, similar to the casatiello and challah. I didn’t have enough walnuts in the pantry so I added about half a cup of chopped blanched almonds to make up for it, and I’m glad I did. Using only half the amount of nuts called for without changing the amount of raisins (9 ounces) would have produced a texturally unbalanced loaf.
The kneading process is rather tricky with this bread because of the many raisins and nuts running all over the place that you, as the baker, have to incorporate into the dough. For those 10 minutes of kneading, I had an inkling of what shepherds and farmers must go through as they round up their sheep and cattle. Just when you think you’re making progress, a few stray ones leave the herd and you need to start all over again. In herding as in baking, patience is a vital skill for success.
After my cinnamon bun-shaping experience, I decided to incorporate a cinnamon swirl in the loaf to fine-tune my dough rolling skills. The shaping process for these two breads is exactly the same – roll out dough into a rectangle (albeit smaller for the loaves at 8×5 inches), sprinkle cinnamon sugar, roll. Because of the smaller amount of dough I had to work with (after dividing up the original ball of dough into two), I found it a lot more manageable this time around, with the only challenge being to keep all the ingredients intact in the dough as I rolled.
So there you have it! I can’t believe I’ve completed nine breads as part of this challenge and I’m very excited about the next one: Corn bread. That will come round soon enough, but in the meantime check out these Cinnamon stories:
- Rebeca at Carried On The Wind (whole wheat cinnamon rolls)
- Emily at Back To The Cutting Board (cinnamon rolls and cinnamon raisin bread)
- Victoria at Goth Panda (cinnamon rolls)
- The Grongar Blog (cinnamon raisin bread)
- The Yumarama bread blog (with the cinnamon buns of death!!)