Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Cinnamon Pinwheel Swirl Bread

Luscious bread with a subtly sweet cinnamon swirl

This image of M101, also know as the Pinwheel Galaxy, shows a striking spiral galaxy located about 27 million light years away. The majority of galaxies in the universe are spiral galaxies. Through studying the velocity of spiral galaxies it was discovered that dark matter controls the rotational speeds resulting in the outer spiral arms to rotate at a uniform rate to that of the inner arms.

Seeing as how I'm temporarily disabled I have a little more time on my hands to update my blog with some fantastic recipes that I have baked recently such as cinnamon swirl bread.

I had been craving this bread for a while so one lazy Sunday I finally got with the program and made it. Bread always seems like an intimidating task to me because of the amount of time that it requires from start to end. But really, not a great deal of applied work is required; you kneed the dough, wait a while, punch down the dough, wait a while, roll the dough, wait a while, bake it, wait a little while longer, then eat a slice of warm fresh from the oven bread. The payoff is entirely worth it, trust me. The waiting part is the hardest; but in that time you can read a few chapters in your favorite Carl Sagan book, watch episodes of Invader Zim, or take the adorable dog your dog-sitting on a walk (who once said bread was cooling leaped up and grabbed a slice off the counter only to drop it at my feet like a gift), really the possibilities are endless.

The recipe for my beloved bread is from an old Better Homes & Gardens cookbook of my mom's. I first baked this bread when I was in high school and I baked it again and again and again. It takes a great deal of restraint not to eat more than half the loaf immediately after pulling it out of the oven, it is seriously that good. My entire apartment is filled with an amazing aroma that makes me want to do it all over again.

Cinnamon Swirl Bread:
(makes 2 loaves)
6-3/4 to 7-1/4 c. flour
2 packages active dry yeast
2 c. milk
1/4 c. sugar
1/4 c. butter
2 tsp. salt
3 eggs

1/2 c. sugar
2 tsp. cinnamon

Powdered Sugar Icing:
(optional but tastes amazing on warm bread)
1 c. sifted powder sugar
1/4 tsp vanilla
enough milk for drizzling

1. In a large mixer bowl combing 3 cups of the flour and the yeast.
2. In a saucepan heat milk, sugar, butter, and salt until just warm (115-120 degrees) and butter is almost melted; stir constantly. Add to flour mixture; add eggs.
3. Beat at low speed of an electric mixer for 30 seconds, scraping bowl. Beat 3 minutes at high speed.
4. Stir in as much of the remaining flour to make a moderately stiff dough that is smooth and elastic (6-8 minutes).
5. Shape into a ball; place in a lightly greased bowl; turn once to grease surface. Cover; let rise in a warm place till double (about 1 1/4 hours).
6. Punch down; divide dough in half. Cover; let rest 10 minutes.
7. Roll each half of dough into a 15 x 7 inch rectangle. Brush entire surface lightly with water.
8. Mix together cinnamon and sugar and sprinkle half of the sugar mixture over each rectangle.
9. Beginning with the narrow end, roll up jelly roll style; seal edge and ends.
10. Place sealed edge down in a greased loaf pan. Cover; let rise til nearly double (35-45 minutes).
12. Bake at 375 degrees for 35-40 minutes; cover with foil the last 15 minutes to prevent over-browning. Cool on a wire rack.
13. Combine ingredients for powdered sugar icing and drizzle over warm bread and enjoy.

Nobody can resist homemade cinnamon swirl bread

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Pink Lagoon Cakes

Vanilla cake topped with marshmallow frosting and sprinkles

The Lagoon Nebula, also known as M8, is located about 5,000 light years away in the constellation Sagittarius. Interestingly enough, pink is not a naturally occurring color. The color pink does not exist in the color spectrum and it has no attributed wavelength to it. There is not a single atom that produces the color pink. The human brain perceives wavelengths of light as color and it constructs the color pink as a means to bridge the gap between red and violet.

Oh gravity, thou art a heartless bitch.

I sprained my ankle tonight. Although this may sound like "no big deal" to most, I have managed to go my entire life without even the slightest injury. I also happen to be an extremely clumsy person with several close calls with danger.

Before you ask yourself what this has to do with pink cupcakes, it is because of the cupcakes that I injured myself. Well, they are at least partially to blame. I suppose my un-cat like reflexes are to blame as well... I was bringing my neighbor some cupcakes and it was dark outside which resulted in me under-calculating the staircase and falling down the last two stairs. To top it all off the cupcakes landed frosting side down!! There is a sad imprint of pink frosting a star sprinkles on the pavement still.

The cupcakes were pretty magical though. The marshmallow fluff frosting paired with the delicate vanilla cake was truly out of this world. Marshmallows make everything better, even a sprained ankle.

Vanilla Cake:
(Recipe adapted from all recipes; makes 12)
1/2 cup butter
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 1/2 tsp vanilla
1 1/2 cups flour
1 3/4 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup milk

Marshmallow Fluff Frosting:
1/2 cup butter, room temperature
1 cup powdered sugar
16 ounces marshmallow fluff

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees; line a cupcake tin with liners.
2. In a medium bowl cream together butter and sugar; beat in eggs one at a time, then add vanilla.
3. Whisk together flour, baking powder and salt.
4. Alternate mixing in flour mixture and milk to batter and beat until well mixed.
5. Divide batter evenly among cups and bake for 20-25 minutes.
6. Let cool then frost.

Beat butter and sugar together until creamy; add marshmallow fluff and beat until blended.