Cinnamon Swirl Bread
1 c milk
1/4 c butter
2 1/4 t active dry yeast
1/4 c warm (110 degree) water
1/4 c sugar
4 c all-purpose flour, divided
1 t salt
1/4 c sugar
4.5 t cinnamon
1 T milk
In a saucepan, heat 1 cup of milk and butter until butter melts. Put aside until it has cooled to 110 degrees.
Meanwhile, put warm water into the bowl of a standing mixture fitted with the paddle and sprinkle with yeast. Stir with a fork to dissolve and let sit for three minutes. Then beat in 1/4 cup of sugar and 2 eggs. Add salt, warm milk mixture and 2 cups of flour. Mix at medium speed until well-blended, pausing to scrape down the sides. Switch to dough hook and add 1.5 cups of flour. Knead at low-medium speed for about ten minutes, pausing to scrape down the sides until a ball has formed.
Turn dough onto work surface. Knead in about another 1/2 c of flour. The dough should be smooth and elastic and not sticky. If it is still tacky add more flour, two tablespoons at a time, until the dough reaches the desired consistency. When you say ohhhh that feels PERFECT it probably is.
Transfer dough to a large, lightly oiled bowl and spin the dough around a few times to coat with oil. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and set in a warm place (75 degrees - I used my oven which has a proof setting but a closet nestled in a blanket would work) to rise for two to two and a half hours.
Punch dough once in the center and then gently turn it onto unfloured surface. Let the dough rest for ten minutes. Grease 9 x 5 loaf pan with butter. Combine 1/4 cup of sugar with cinnamon in a small bowl.
Press dough into a 6 x 8 inch rectangle. Use a rolling pin to roll dough out until it is 8 x 18 inches. Don't squish it - be gentle. Brush dough generously with milk and then sprinkle evenly with cinnamon sugar leaving a half inch border at the far end. Roll the dough away from you very tightly, using your hands to keep it from getting too wide. Pinch seam shut with your fingers. Then poke in the ends and pinch those shut as well.
Place loaf seam side down in the pan. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let it rise for an hour and a half until the dough is an inch over the rim of the pan. Preheat oven to 350°.
When dough has risen, whisk together one egg and two teaspoons of milk and brush over top of the dough loaf. Bake until golden brown about 30 to 35 minutes. Remove loaf from pan and cool on its side on a wire rack until bread is room temperature.
Notes: Historically I don't bake. But a couple of weeks ago I decided I wanted to master French bread before I die and I have been on something of a run ever since. For this recipe I started with Cook's Illustrated but their dough was so wet it was literally running between my fingers as I tried to work with it so I went online and cobbled a few recipes together the next time I tried it. It turned out BEAUTIFULLY.
If you don't have a standing mixer use a wooden spoon to combine the ingredients and then knead it by hand for about 15-16 minutes.