Saturday, October 15, 2011

Cinnamon Sugar Pull-Apart Bread

I've been doing a lot of business talk. And cupcake talk, and vetting cupcakes for the business talk. It's exciting stuff, indeed. But we must continue to practice that part of baking dearest to us: the one that leads not to publicity, or profit, or a bakery, or even a blog post - but to comfort, and catharsis, and aesthetics; to uninhibited indulgence; to a warm oven and the smell of melting brown sugar and chocolate on a rainy evening; and in this case, to the unmistakable current of caramelizing cinnamon and sugar, slowly filling our fall morning.

This is why we bake.
So let's regroup with some bread.

After some basic sweet dough preparation, this process gets fun. The dough is rolled thin and coated generously with butter, cinnamon, and sugar. Then it's sliced into strips that are stacked and sectioned. Those sections are placed in a bread pan to rise.

Each individual slice does its own thing in the oven. Some recede into the pan, others tower over the runts; some lose themselves in the loaf and become indistinguishable from the rest; and yet others push hard to set themselves apart from the group. I'd imagine putting a pan of these little dough squares in the oven is much like sending your kids off to school. You've done your best to shape them, and now you've got to let them grow. As their parent, of course, you love them all the same, and will eat them indiscriminately.

Warning: it's hard to quit with these things. Every slice is different from the last and appetizing in its own unique way. Your mental workings go something like this:

"Okay, last piece."
[Eats slice]
"Oh, look at this one! Okay, last piece."

This could easily go on until the loaf is gone, so watch it. I managed to freeze a third of the loaf, and it reheats beautifully. But really, if you eat it all and you feel warm and full and happy, then well done to you.

After all, that's why we bake.

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