Cinnamon Twist Bread

You guys!!

Cinnamon Twist Bread

I did it!!

Cinnamon Twist Bread

I made pretty bread!

Actually, I’m going to say that this bread is beautiful.

Not even sorry about bragging here, because if you guys know me, you know how much I struggle with bread. I have cried, laughed, given up, and tried again when it comes to making bread look pretty. I’ve gotten so upset over pie crusts that my husband has to take over. I have pretended that “it’s supposed to look rustic” so many times that it’s shameful.

But I did this all by myself! (Cue the squealing and jumping around.)

Cinnamon Twist Bread

You’ve got to try this too! Because, really and truly, if I can do this, a nine year old can probably do this.

For real.

Cinnamon Twist Bread

It starts out with flour, sugar and salt.

Cinnamon Twist Bread

Water and yeast.

Cinnamon Twist Bread

Which combine into dough.

Cinnamon Twist Bread

And then rest.

Up until that point, I can manage without any problems. Here is where things usually get tricky for me.

Cinnamon Twist Bread

Cinnamon Twist Bread

The dough is rolled out into a large rectangle. (And yes, this is really my attempt at a rectangle shape. I swear I did not fail kindergarten.)

Cinnamon Twist Bread

Then you just spread on some butter, and sprinkle it with a heavy layer of cinnamon and sugar. (Don’t be like me. Use more butter and make sure your cinnamon sugar goes much closer to the edges.)

Cinnamon Twist Bread

Cinnamon Twist Bread

And then you roll it up as tightly as you can. With practice, I’ll get a tighter roll. This was ok, but not great. (I was already freaking out by this point, but trying to keep it together.)

Cinnamon Twist Bread

Then transfer the roll to parchment paper, and cut it down the middle with a sharp knife. Make sure you leave about an inch at the top uncut.

Cinnamon Twist Bread

I couldn’t get pictures of me twisting the bread, because I was afraid that if I paused to take a picture it would be ruined and I’d cry again. So! All you have to do is twist each side a little so that the layers are facing the ceiling, and then cross the strands over each other all the way to the bottom. Then just tuck the ends under the loaf.

Cinnamon Twist Bread

Like so. And then let it rest. Then all you have to do is brush the outside with an egg wash and bake.

Cinnamon Twist Bread

Voila!

This is best served warm, and on the day you make it. We ate it plain, but my son suggested that this bread should be frosted like a cinnamon roll. Do what makes you happy.

Cinnamon Twist Bread
Makes one loaf

3/4 tsp active dry yeast
1 cup warm water
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp salt
1 1/2 tbsp sugar
3-4 tbsp butter, at room temperature and very soft
cinnamon sugar
1 egg beaten with 1 tbsp water

  • Combine the yeast and warm water, and allow it to activate for 10 minutes.
  • Meanwhile, combine the flour, sugar and salt in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the dough hook. Turn the mixer on for about a minute to mix the dry ingredients.
  • Add the yeast mixture to the dry ingredients with the mixer on low, and turn the mixer up to medium speed for about 5 to 7 minutes. You might have to use a scraper to get the dough off of the dough hook during mixing.
  • Transfer the dough to an oiled bowl and cover loosely with plastic wrap. Let it rise for about an hour in a warm spot. It should double in size.
  • Roll the dough out on a well-floured surface. You’re going for a nice big rectangle, about 12 inches by 15 inches.
  • Spread the butter onto the dough, going almost all the way to the edges. Sprinkle on the cinnamon sugar.
  • Start at one short edge and tightly roll the dough to the other short edge. Transfer the roll to a sheet of parchment with the seam on bottom.
  • Cut the roll in half, starting about an inch from the top, all the way to the bottom.
  • Turn the cut side up towards the ceiling, and tightly cross the strands over each other until you get to the bottom. Tuck the ends under the loaf.
  • Let the bread complete a second rise, covered loosely with plastic wrap for about 20 minutes. Preheat the oven to 350F.
  • Brush the bread with the egg wash, and then transfer the bread and parchment paper to a baking stone or sheet.
  • Bake the bread for about 20 minutes, and then turn the heat up to 425F. Bake until the top turns a nice golden brown.

Pain d’Epi (or my Bread Saga)

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I’m in love with this bread.

It’s just so pretty!

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I first saw it in a bakery in Seattle. Naturally, I assumed you had to go to bread baking school to make something so beautiful.

It’s kind of true, but mostly not.

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Pain d’Epi is French for bread that looks like wheat. Fitting, since that’s where flour comes from, and bread is made from flour.

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I actually made this without my bread machine. It felt way too easy, so I was sure I’d screwed it up. Sure enough though, it rose and rose and rose.

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The only difficult part of making this bread was shaping it. I had to try a few times to get it right.

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Not pretty. This was my first attempt. My sous chef said it looked like a bunny, so I decided to just say I did it on purpose. Bunny bread, just in time for Easter!

Luckily, it tasted far better than it looked. Perfectly crusty and crisp on the outside, fluffy and pillowy on the inside. And even if it didn’t look like a wheat stalk the first time around, it still pulled apart into single portions like it was supposed to.

Want to know how to do it? Go here.  That’s probably the best tutorial out there, unless you find a video on Youtube.  I didn’t check there.  Sorry.  Maybe if I had, I wouldn’t have made bunny bread.

Anyway, here’s the recipe.  Try this out and impress the heck out of your friends. Hopefully the first time around, not the third.

Pain d’Epi
Makes 3 loaves

6 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 1/2 tbsp active dry yeast
1 1/2 tbsp salt
3 1/4 cups warm water (I’m told that between 115F and 120F is perfect for yeast activation)

Add the yeast to the warm water. Gently stir once and then let sit for about 5 to 10 minutes. Meanwhile, mix the flour and the salt. Add the yeastwater to the flour and gently combine. You don’t need to knead, per se, but make sure that all the flour gets incorporated.

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Transfer the dough to an oiled container or bowl. I read that a 5 gallon bucket with a lid is great for rising bread, but I don’t have one, so I used the biggest bowl I could find and loosely covered it with cellophane. If you go the bucket route, make sure you don’t seal the lid on tight. It could very well blow the lid right off.

Let the dough rise for two hours. This works best in a sunny spot where it’s not going to encounter any drafts. I had used the oven earlier in the day, so I just left my dough on the counter where it would get that residual heat.

After the dough has risen, you can cover it completely and store it in the fridge for up to a week, or you can get right to baking. If you’re ready, preheat a baking stone in the top half of the oven, and a broiler pan in the bottom half at 450F.

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Pull off a chunk of dough, loosely roll it into a ball, and then let it rest on a floured sheet of parchment for a couple of minutes. Come back to it, and then stretch it out into an oval. Fold one side in longways, then the other side over that. Because it’s on the parchment, you’ll be able to easily transfer the loaf to the baking stone when it’s time.

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Not oval enough. This was the bunny loaf

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See how the ends are wide and round? They should be narrow and slightly pointy.  That initial oval shape is pretty important.

Gently stretch the dough so that it becomes a long baguette with pointy-ish ends. Don’t squeeze hard though, because it will compress the air.  If you find the dough is resisting, just let it rest a few more minutes.  It should be much easier to work with when you come back to it.

Then comes the part where you should really study the tutorial. Using kitchen shears or scissors, cut the dough at a 45 degree angle, almost all the way through. Gently angle that chunk of dough away from the loaf, and shape the tip if needed. Repeat this process along the entire loaf.

Trim the parchment paper so that it won’t hang over the edge of the pan and grab about 1 1/2 cups of warm water.  Working quickly, place the dough on the baking stone, and pour the water into the broiler pan.  Don’t be surprised (like I was) if it splatters and boils right away.  Close the oven door and bake for 35 minutes. The bread should be golden brown before you take it out of the oven.

This bread is best served fresh, while it’s still slightly warm.

Good luck, and if you discover any tips to make it look prettier, PLEASE share them with me!