“BURNT IS IN THE EYE OF THE BEHOLDER”
Hi there! Welcome. Thanks for taking a moment to come over to Just Warm Bread. I am so glad you’re here.
The idea for Just Warm Bread hatched yesterday. Seriously. That’s not to say it hasn’t been incubating for, oh, 29 years, but yesterday it hatched.
It all began before my head even came close to cresting the kitchen counter top. My mom would sit me on top of the counter while she prepared wholesome food for our family; food we always shared together around the dinner table. Then, when I was four my dad asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up. “I want to work in a bakery.” I responded without pause. By the time I was in grade school I was writing books about fictional bakeries. There are plenty more examples, but I think you get it. From a very early age, I’ve had a passion for baking.
Fast forward to yesterday. I was standing in the kitchen rinsing 1 ½ pounds of freshly-picked raspberries and daydreaming about what to do with them—raspberry vanilla bean jam? Don’t mind if I do did. All I can say is: if you haven’t tried adding vanilla bean to your jam, please do yourself a favor and give it a try; you’ll be so glad you did. Anyway, as I was rinsing the raspberries and removing the tiny white ones, the stones, twigs, leaves, dandelions, and a small shard of pink plastic that Annabelle, my almost-three-year-old, contributed to the harvest, I decided to say YES to a blog because I have something special to share with you.
Before you decide whether or not you’re here to stay, I need to be totally honest with you. I’m not a classically trained chef; in fact I have no formal training whatsoever. I’m not a professional photographer; ‘amateur’ would be a generous term. My degree is in English, so in theory I can write, but I will warn you, it’s a Bachelor of Science degree from an engineering college. Is that even a thing, bro? What I do have are experiences, stories, and recipes that will hopefully inspire you to acknowledge and embrace daily victories in the sometimes-disguised ways they present themselves.
So onto the title of this blog and then the cinnamon swirl bread, I promise. Myrtle, my maternal great-grandmother, a woman I never met, used to scoff at the mention of burnt toast. She would say that anything other than “burnt” toast was just warm bread. Burnt toast: A victory. Rock on, Myrtle, I like your style. Here at Just Warm Bread, I will focus on recipes designed to bring people together because the best kind of food is food shared.
As a nod to Miss Myrtle, the inaugural recipe here on Just Warm Bread is vanilla-sugar cinnamon swirl bread. I use a mixture of all-purpose and graham flour in the dough for a slightly savory note that helps balance out the sweetness of the vanilla-sugar swirl. If you can’t find graham flour, you could use whole wheat or spelt flour or just replace it with more all-purpose flour. Be sure to slice, toast to a nice shade of burnt (if you’re like Myrtle), and slather with butter. This bread also makes some delightful French toast.
If you try this recipe, please leave a comment and let me know what you think.
It was lovely having you here. Please come again. Happy Baking!
- 3 Tablespoons Unsalted butter, melted
- ½ cup / 114 g Lukewarm water
- Scant 1 teaspoon Granulated yeast
- ¾ teaspoon Kosher salt
- 2 Large eggs
- 2½ Tablespoons Honey
- 1½ Cups / 222 g All-purpose flour
- ½ Cup / 60 g Graham flour
- Cinnamon Sugar Swirl:
- ¼ cup / 50 g granulated sugar (I use organic granulated cane sugar, but regular white sugar would work)
- 1 Vanilla bean, seeds removed
- 2 Tablespoons Brown sugar
- 1 pinch Ground cinnamon
- For the dough: Melt the butter and set aside to cool slightly while you measure and mix the other ingredients. Place the water, yeast, salt, eggs, and honey in a medium bowl and whisk lightly to break up the eggs. Add melted butter and whisk once more to combine. Add the flours to the bowl and stir with a wooden spoon just until the flour is incorporated. The dough will be quite slumped at this point. DO NOT ADD EXTRA FLOUR. Cover the bowl with a clean dish cloth or loosely with plastic wrap. Place in a warm spot for 2 hours. After the 2 hours, transfer the covered container to the refrigerator for at least 1 hour or up to 3 days.
- When you're ready to use the dough, butter or spray a loaf pan and set aside. Rub the vanilla beans into the granulated sugar with your fingers ensuring there are no large clumps. Remove the chilled dough from the refrigerator and transfer to a generously floured surface. Dust the dough with a bit more flour and use a rolling pin to roll the dough into a 8 x 16 inch rectangle (it doesn't need to be perfect). If the dough is resisting being rolled, let it rest for 5 minutes and then proceed. Mix the vanilla-sugar, brown sugar, and cinnamon together in a small bowl and sprinkle it over the entire surface of the dough. Starting at the shorter end of the rectangle, roll it up and place it seam-side down in the prepared loaf pan. Fold both ends under the loaf to prevent the filling from spilling out while it bakes. Cover loosely and allow the loaf to rest for 60-90 minutes, depending on the temperature of your kitchen.
- Preheat oven to 375° F. Bake bread for 40 minutes. Cool completely before cutting.