Cinnamon Twists

August 26, 2011 § Leave a comment

The house is pretty silent at four in the morning. Outside it’s still dark and inside, I am sitting in bed (my very own bed, finally) wide awake. I have the kettle on for some black currant tea and I’ve already stirred together the crunchy peanut butter to slather on top of rustic baguette with a drizzle of wildflower honey. In my room, there’s my unopened bottle of Moet champagne, my Fry boots and my two teddy bears, Polar Bear and Little Bear (I was a creative youngster), right where I left them when I boarded the plane to Prague back in June. In a couple of hours, my mom will be awake, spooning peanut butter cookie dough onto trays to put in my brother’s lunch, but for the moment the kitchen is all mine. I pour oats into a ceramic mixing bowl and ladle out a quarter cup of maple syrup. Next, I chop raw almonds and hazelnuts and use a tiny spoon to stir everything together, coating the oats and nuts in syrup. I have always loved little spoons — the ones you use to stir sugar in coffee — and I use them whenever possible, even when they’re not practical. The smell of baking maple syrup wafts through the house and in half and hour there is a tray full of nutty granola sitting on the kitchen counter, ready to be topped with dried apricots and cranberries.

A few hours later, the dark sky has been replaced with a city drenched in thick fog, white mist descending on the rooftops and blurring my vision from the window of the houses across the street. Fresh coffee seeps in the press and I’m taking the yeast out of the fridge, clearing the black marble counter top of the morning’s breakfast. Whole-wheat levain toasted and spread with creamy goat cheese or honey. Tart blueberries and juicy yellow nectarines, much smaller than their European counterparts, only about the size of a baby’s fist, flesh easily pulled away from the pit. I’m pouring over what kind of bread to make, thinking about flours, dense, grey buckwheat and powdery whole-wheat. Honey or molasses.

Before I can decide, I get called away for the morning’s run, a 12-miler through Golden Gate Park, past Stow Lake, along JFK Drive, where I used to spend Sunday mornings bike riding with my parents, before I became terrified of turning on a bike. There’s no explanation for that one, no horror story of a bike accident, just me not liking operating things that move. Down by the cliffs, cold, wispy air brings in the scent of the ocean and there’s no question: I am home.

Cinnamon Twists
From All Recipes
Cinnamon twists have consistently been what my younger brother and I used to order at the neighborhood coffeeshops and bakeries. Wanting to recreate them at home, I wasn’t sure whether I wanted to go the yeasted brioche dough route or the puff pastry route. This recipe is like a sweet brioche dough, and it worked quite well, but I think if I made them again, I would roll the dough out into much thinner strands and make the twists much smaller, for a much higher cinnamon to bread ratio and bit more of a crunch.

1 (.25 ounce) package active dry yeast
3/4 cup warm water (110 degrees to 115 degrees F), divided
4 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/2 cup warm milk (110 to 115 degrees F)
1/4 cup butter, softened
1 egg

1/4 cup butter, melted
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
4 teaspoons ground cinnamon

In a large mixing bowl, dissolve yeast in 1/4 cup warm water. Add 2 cups of flour, sugar, salt, milk, butter, egg and remaining water and beat on medium speed for minutes. Stir in enough remaining flour to form a soft dough. Turn the dough onto a floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic, about 6-8 minutes. Place the dough in a clean, greased bowl, cover with a damp cloth and let rise in a warm place until dough has doubled in size, about 1 hour.

Punch down the dough and divide into. Roll into a 16-inch by 12-inch rectangle. Brush with butter. Combine brown sugar and cinnamon; sprinkle over butter. Let dough rest for 6 minutes. Cut lengthwise into three 16-inch by 4-inch strips. Cut each strip into sixteen 4-inch by 1-inch pieces. Twist and place on greased baking sheets. Cover again and let rise until doubled, about 30 minutes.

Bake twists at 350 degrees F for 15 minutes or until golden brown.

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