I believe that the kitchen is the heart of the home, which is one of the reasons why I love to cook. I feel like cooking for my family is so rewarding. I love the smells and joy that fills my home from cooking and baking. The memories that I have of the smell of homemade bread baking as I walked in the door from school is one that I will never forget. Eating a favorite meal my mom used to make will always bring me comfort (which is why this scene from my favorite Pixar movie always makes me cry).
One of the nursery rhymes I read to my boys is Animal Crackers by Christopher Morley because it just feels so comforting. "What do you choose when you're offered a treat? When Mother says, 'What would you like best to eat?' Is it waffles and syrup or cinnamon toast? It's cocoa and animals that I love the most!" I love cinnamon toast and was really craving some the other day so I made it. This is a really simple, easy recipe for cinnamon bread. You can whip it together quickly and since it makes 4 loaves, you can use it for French toast, toast with butter on it and can even omit the cinnamon/sugar mixture and just make regular white bread with it.
2 Tablespoons yeast
4 Tablespoons white sugar
1 cup powdered milk
4 Tablespoons canola oil
4 teaspoons kosher salt
11 cups all-purpose flour
In the bowl of a stand mixer, add sugar, water and sprinkle yeast on top. Stir quickly for a couple of seconds to combine and then let sit for 5 minutes. Add powdered milk, oil, salt and 4 cups of flour. Turn on mixer to low and add the remaining 7 cups of flour (one cup at a time) until the sides of the bowl come clean (you can add one more cup if needed).
Heat up a large mixing bowl (you can heat up a metal bowl by running hot water over it or put a microwave-safe plastic one in the microwave for a couple of minutes) and pour 1 Tablespoon of oil on the bottom and coat the bowl. Place the dough in the warm bowl and cover with a towel and set in a warm place to rise for about 30 minutes. Soften one stick of butter and set aside.
Turn the dough out onto a clean surface (do not flour) and divide in half, then half again until you have four equal portions. Spread a little butter on all sides of four bread loaf pans. Take one dough portion and roll into a rectangle (about 6 inches wide and 14 inches long). Spread some of the softened butter all over the dough and then sprinkle with some white sugar and cinnamon (you can add raisins or chopped walnuts if you wish at this point). Starting at one short end, roll the dough tightly and then seal the edge by pinching closed. Place the dough in the loaf pan with the seal on the bottom and repeat with the remaining three dough portions. Cover with a tea towel and let rise for 30 minutes while the oven preheats to 350 degrees.
Crack an egg into a small bowl with a couple of tablespoons of milk. Whisk well and, using a pastry brush, brush onto the tops of the bread. Bake for 40 minutes in the preheated (350) oven until brown and crisp on top. Remove from oven and let cool for at least 15 minutes before removing from pans.