Friday, February 5, 2010

Cinnamon raisin walnut swirl bread with a .....

cinnamon sugar swirl and a cinnamon sugar crust. A whole lot of cinnamon in this bread that tasted absolutely fantastic. I loved how the plump raisins and crunchy walnuts made this bread almost dessert-like. The bread itself was pleasantly sweet, the crust was slightly chewy and the innards were soft and perfect with gorgeous, large swirls of melted cinnamon sugar. And it smelled soooo good. We sliced off thick slices and some of us had it toasted (with butter of course) and I smothered mine with peanut butter for an experience that took me right back to sitting down to an all American breakfast. Miles and miles away from where my fast depleting bottle of cinnamon sugar was actually made. Sniff.


I think it would be safe to say that cinnamon is a much loved spice in America. When I first got there I just couldn't understand why there was cinnamon everywhere and in everything. Cinnamon buns, cinnamon scented candles, cinnamon body wash and lip balm, cinnamon spice lattes, cinnamon in pies, oatmeal and cookies. It was magically there in all kinds of food. Especially during the holiday season where it smelled like cinnamon was just suspended in the air. And if you've eaten it all your life - I guess it doesn't surprise you all that much but for me it was wonderful - how a little dash of cinnamon made everything taste so homemade, warm and toasty. In fact whenever I got back from a vacation to India, the familiar smell of cinnamon baking away all rolled up inside a Cinnabon at the airport never failed to make me smile.


Very much like how cardamom is to Indian cooking. Ground cardamom is used extensively as a final flourish in Indian desserts and we use them as a whole spice to flavor curries,pulaos and other savory food. If you've just been introduced to Indian food - you can detect it even in the slightest form. But for someone who has eaten Indian food all their life - you can't expect them to say "Oooooh I can the taste cardamom in there", but if you've forgotten to add the cardamom in there - then expect to hear "Some thing's missing".


This is a another classic from the exceptional book "The Bread Baker's Apprentice" by Peter Reinhart. If you love to bake - this is a must have. After achieving much success with Reinhart's amazing pizza dough - this recipe reinforces the fact that this book is incredible. It really works. It's amazing how someone who hasn't baked a whole lot of bread before can make loaves that taste so homemade with an artisan touch.

For the recipe, it's 3 a.m and I can barely keep my eyes open and the pictures are making me hungry again, so I figured why not reuse? I'm leaving you with two links to more descriptive and very well written posts on how to make this bread Arundathi's Food Blog. And another post from A tiger in the kitchen with pictures and notes. The recipe makes two loaves - and it's perfect for sharing.


As an added note, your home smells so good while these loaves are baking. You want to skip with joy. Nothing compares to the smell of freshly baked bread. Happy baking!