Maida Heatter’s Mile High Cinnamon Bread (food52)

Dough

1/2 t & 1/4 c sugar, divided
1/4 c warm water
1 pkg active dry yeast (2 1/4 t)
1 c milk
3 T unsalted butter, cut up
4 c unsifted bread flour
1 t salt
1 large egg

In a liquid measuring cup, stir 1/2 t sugar into the warm water. Sprinkle on the yeast, stir together and let stand at room temp for 10 min until foamy. Heat milk and butter to 90 – 100° F, either in the microwave or in a small saucepan over medium heat or in the microwave. The butter doesn’t need to melt completely. Place the flour, remaining 1/4 c sugar and salt in the food processor. Pulse to mix. With the motor running, add the yeast mix, then the milk-butter mix and finally the egg, through the feed tube. (Maida recommends adding the milk mix into the cup with the yeast so that you get every bit of yeast into the dough.) Process the mix until it forms a ball, and then continue to process for another 30 seconds. If the dough is too stiff, add a few drops of water. If the machine slows down, remove about half and then process the 2 halves separately and knead them together in the next step. On a board or work surface, knead the dough for about 1 min. Place it in a buttered bowl, turning the dough to butter all sides of the ball. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and set in a warm, draft-free spot to rise for about 1 1/2 hours: It should be well-risen and doubled in bulk. Lightly flour a board or work surface, keeping in mind that you’ll need a lot of room. Turn the dough onto the floured area and press down to deflate it. Fold in the 2 opposite sides to meet in the middle, then fold in the remaining 2 sides to meet, so that you’ve formed the dough into a square. Press down to flatten it slightly, then cover loosely and let stand for 10 min. Butter a 9 x 5″ loaf pan, preferably one with a dark finish. Set it aside and prepare the vanilla water and cinnamon sugar, below. (You can also make 2 more reasonable-sized loaves by using 2 9 x 5 pans. You’ll follow the same instructions as below, halving all of the dimensional measurements.)

Vanilla Water, Cinnamon Sugar, Shaping and Baking

3 T water
1 t vanilla
1/3 c sugar & 1 T for sprinkling the loaf pre-rise divided
1 T & 1 t cinnamon
1 T & 1 t unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 t nutmeg

To make the vanilla water: mix the water and vanilla together in a small cup. To make the cinnamon sugar: whisk together 1/3 c sugar and the cinnamon, cocoa, and nutmeg. With a floured rolling pin, rolling the dough to form a rectangle that’s 12 x 22″. Make the corners as square as possible. If you’re having trouble with the dough shrinking back, pause briefly before trying again. Use a big pastry brush to brush about 2/3 of the vanilla water all over the dough. Maida says to be careful not to miss any spots—”this is important.” You can use a couple teaspoons of additional water if necessary. Then, sprinkle 2/3 of the cinnamon sugar slowly and carefully in a thin layer over the moistened dough. (“If you sprinkle too much in any one spot, you will not have enough to cover all the dough—so be careful.”) Now fold the 2 long sides of the dough in one at a time, so that the meet each other in the middle. Pinch them together gently to seal the seam. Gently roll over the surface with a rolling pin to flatten the folded dough to about 7 x 25″. Use the remaining vanilla water to wet the dough and sprinkle the remaining cinnamon sugar over top. Now, the fun part: Making a very fat jelly roll. Starting at the narrow end, roll up the dough, making a thick spiral. When you get to the end, brush a little plain water on the loaf at the spot where the end will hit. Pinch the end a bit to seal it. Carefully and gently place the roll, seam side-down in the buttered pan. The roll of dough should nearly fill it. Sprinkle about 1 T sugar over the loaf. Cover it loosely with plastic wrap and place in a warm, draft-free place to rise for about 1 hour, until almost doubled and about 2″ above the top of the pan. Adjust oven racks so that you have one rack one-third up from the bottom of the oven. Heat to 350° F. Just before baking, cut slits in the top of the loaf with a sharp knife: Maida recommends six long slits, only 1/4″ deep so that you don’t expose the cinnamon sugar layer. Bake on a sheet pan for 45 – 50 min. You may need to cover the top loosely with aluminum foil towards the end of baking to prevent over-browning. Bake until the loaf, when removed from the pan, sounds hollow when tapped with your fingertips. Cool on a rack. Store, wrapped well in aluminum foil, for 3 – 4 days at room temp. Makes 1 skyscraping (or 2 smaller) 9″ loaf/loaves.

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