Cinnamon Swirl Spelt Loaf

There was an ice storm raging outside the house yesterday morning, but I went ahead and pulled out the ingredients to bake bread anyway.

The schools were closed; all three kids and Danny were home. Traffic and weather authorities had cautioned us not to leave the house, and we had no desire to venture out. I had no groceries, but figured that if I could get a couple of loaves of bread baked off, at least we could have toast and eggs or sandwiches for supper.

I just didn’t count on the power going out. Twice.

My dough was rising beautifully in a wooden bowl when the lights went out, snuffing our hopes of warm cinnamon swirl bread for that day. The rain was beating against the window, and I regretfully covered the dough with a towel and put it in the fridge. The cooler temperatures would slow the rise, and I could bake the loaves another day.

However, shortly after a cold lunch of cheese and crackers with fruit, the lights came back on and power surged through the house. Delighted, I plugged in the kettle to warm myself with a pot of tea (no power means no heat) and pulled the dough from the fridge to re-rise.

Not long afterward, Clara helped me roll out the dough and shape the swirl loaf. A hands-on kitchen project is just the fun needed for a six year old who isn’t allowed to play outdoors during the storm.

This recipe is based on my standard daily loaf – a buttermilk oatmeal bread with a light crumb and sturdy crust. The cinnamon swirl version is a variation I make specifically for toast, and French toast. Not only does it make the whole kitchen smell amazing, but it’s pretty fantastic spread with homemade jam or a whipped berry honey butter.

I usually make my bread with half whole wheat flour and half all-purpose, but I’ve been playing around (and loving) with the organic sifted spelt flour from my friends at GRAIN. It’s such a gorgeous flour. The sifted spelt is interchangeable with all-purpose flour for most baked goods, and it brings so much more flavour.

So our loaves are shaped and rising. I’m about to preheat the oven…when we lose power again. A collective groan goes up from the various rooms of the house where our family of five is scattered, mine the loudest of all. My bread is nearly fully proofed – and it needs a crackling hot oven.

Danny slips into a raincoat and heads over to call on the neighbours; they are on a different grid than us and frequently have power when we don’t. He knocks, they answer from a dark house. They don’t have electricity either. Ice-covered branches are scattered all over the street and our lawn. It’s treacherous out there.

I think of our Weber barbecue, braving the elements on the back patio. Danny reads my mind and suggests baking the bread on the charcoal grill. I think it could work but I don’t want to have to deal with it; because at this point, the house is decidedly cold, and I feel like I am never ever going to be warm again.

Danny offers to light the grill, and in no time it has reached 400F.

Wouldn’t you know it, our perseverance paid off. The grill maintained a temperature of around 375F and the bread baked up beautifully in about forty minutes. It smelled so incredible, and we devoured it warm, in thick, ragged slices, covered in maple butter. We boiled water on the camp stove for tea and the afternoon was salvaged.

I’ve given instructions for baking the bread normally in an oven, but should you ever find yourself in a similar fix to our ice storm power outage, rest assured that you can finish the bread on the grill. It will have a slightly smoky aroma from the charcoal, but an absolutely unbeatable crust.


Cinnamon Swirl Spelt Loaf
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Recipe type: Bread
Author:
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Serves/Yield: 2 loaves
I don't have to tell you this loaf is best enjoyed straight from the oven. Should you have leftovers, turn it into the absolute best French toast.
Ingredients
  • 1½ cups warm water (about 110 to 120°F)
  • 1 tablespoon active dry yeast
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • ¼ cup unsalted butter
  • ¼ cup liquid honey
  • 1 cup old-fashioned rolled oats
  • 2 cups whole wheat bread flour
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 3 cups sifted spelt flour or all-purpose flour
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar or maple sugar
  • 1 Tablespoon cinnamon sugar
Instructions
  1. Pour warm water into the bowl of a stand mixer. Sprinkle with yeast and stir with the paddle attachment. Let sit for about 5 minutes, until the yeast 'blooms'.
  2. Gently heat buttermilk, butter and honey in a small pot over low heat. Stir just until butter is melted. Make sure the liquid does not get too hot or it will kill the yeast. Wrist warm is good.
  3. Add buttermilk mixture, oats and whole wheat flour to yeast mixture. Beat on low speed for about a minute. Let this “sponge” sit for 30 minutes so the whole grains will absorb the liquid.
  4. Replace the paddle attachment with the dough hook. Add salt. Add sifted spelt flour ½ cup at a time, beating on low speed until all the flour is incorporated and a ball of dough forms. Knead the dough on low speed for 6 minutes. Dough will feel smooth and will pull away from the sides of the bowl. Transfer dough to a large, oiled bowl, cover with a tea towel and let rise in a warm place until doubled in size, about 1 hour.
  5. Oil two loaf pans. Combine cinnamon and sugar in a small bowl. Turn the dough onto a floured surface and cut in half. Roll each half into a rough 10-inch square. Brush all over with beaten egg, then sprinkle both pieces of dough with cinnamon sugar.
  6. Roll each piece of dough up like a jelly roll, tuck in the sides and place in a loaf pan. Let loaves rise, covered with a clean tea towel, just until doubled in size, about 45 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 375°F (190°C).
  7. Bake loaves for about 40 minutes, until dark golden and loaves sound hollow when thumped. Turn out onto racks to cool slightly, then slice and serve warm.
Notes
If mixing by hand, follow the same directions, only use a sturdy wooden spoon to beat the dough in a bowl, followed by your hands to knead the dough on the counter. The dough will relax after 8 to 10 minutes of kneading and will feel elastic in your hands.

 

About Aimee

Cooking has always been Aimée's preferred recreational activity, creative outlet, and source of relaxation. After nearly ten years in the professional cooking industry, she went from restaurant to RSS by trading her tongs and clogs for cookie cutters and a laptop, serving as editor here at Simple Bites. Her first book, Brown Eggs and Jam Jars - Family Recipes from the Kitchen of Simple Bites, was published in February 2015.

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Comments

  1. I was on a bread baking bender last week. I may have to go on another and give this a try. It sounds so lovely. 🙂

  2. shawnna griffin says:

    hey girl- love the post! God does provide after all! This bread looks so yummy!

  3. What a lovely story! I am rather a novice at baking bread with yeast and was curious if you recommend a marble slab (as seen with cute Clara) for rolling out your baked goods. Is it better at preventing sticking than a wooden board or counter? Thanks!

    • Hi Beth – I love the slab. I bought it mainly for pie crusts and pastry as it stays cool for much longer. But I’ve found many uses for it from giant cheese tray to a slab for pouring candy. And yes, it prevents sticking.

  4. I love your resourcefulness. This sounds like a perfect comfort food on a icy, house-bound day. My kids love when nature shakes us off our perch of regular routines, not solely because everyone is home on a weekday, but the whole shift- cards and board games for screens, candles for lights and creative cooking.
    I must make your recipe (albeit with the power on) for French toast, it would be perfect. We boil down our sap for maple syrup on an open fire and love the smokiness it gives it- perhaps I should make some maple butter so we can enjoy the smoky flavour on this beautiful loaf, also. Do you also have a recipe for maple butter on your site?

    • Cindy we had the French toast again for breakfast today – and were wowed all over again! It’s delish.

      So my friend Janice has this recipe: https://www.kitchenhealssoul.com/maple-butter/

      But if I am feeling lazy, I just cream together the following:
      4 tablespoons salted butter, room temp
      2 tablespoons maple syrup
      1 teaspoon cinnamon

      It’s one of our favourite spreads for French toast.
      Enjoy!

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