Guilty - I must admit, I am a bit of a gadget freak. Any item that can make prepping and cooking food easier is at the top of my "favorite things" list. But I also have to admit that I am a bit of a skeptic when it comes to gadgets. I need to feel like a new one earns its space in my already crowded kitchen drawers. So it's been a while since I've made room for a new one. When I owned the Chef's Pantry on Whidbey Island, I was always in hot pursuit of a tasty new condiment, cracker, spice - you name it - whatever would get me excited to share with my fantastic customers/friends. Recently when doing a little research for French Toast, Waffles and Pancakes for Breakfast, I stumbled upon a really cool combination of both. A gadget - a sharp, super fine spice grater - and a spice - not something terribly exotic, but simply something terribly fresh - a cinnamon stick. Not just any cinnamon stick, but one that hadn't been drying out in a warehouse for months on end. Of course we are all aware that freshness matters. But having never been given the opportunity to know what difference a truly fresh cinnamon stick and specialized grater can make in a dish, I honestly never thought about it. Simply put, the flavor sings! It jumps off the plate. I don't know how else to describe it. So if you're interested in up-ing your cinnamon game (especially useful at the breakfast table), check out www.cinnamonhill.com - because they have all the details and make the case more eloquently. In the meantime, here is a Cinnamon Bread recipe from the new book that makes use of their amazing cinnamon - delicious as toast, French toast and Stuffed French Toast depending on your mood.
FromFrench Toast, Waffles and Pancakes for Breakfast: Comfort Food for Leisurely Mornings (2015 Food Arts Fusion LLC)
Makes one loaf
1/2 cup whole milk
6 tbsps. unsalted butter
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 1/4 tsps. instant yeast (1 package)
3 cups all-purpose flour
2 large eggs
1 tbsp. ground cinnamon
Bring the milk just to a boil in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat and remove from the heat. Add 3 tbsps. butter, 1/4 cup sugar and salt and stir until the butter is melted. Add 1/4 cup water to the mixture. Combine the yeast with 2 cups flour in a large bowl. When the milk mixture has cooled to lukewarm (about 110–115 degrees F), whisk in the eggs. Pour the milk into the flour-yeast mixture and stir to combine (or use a stand mixer). Turn the dough onto a lightly floured work surface (or switch to the dough hook on the stand mixer) and add the remaining flour a little at a time until a soft dough forms. Knead the dough for 5 minutes, until the surface is smooth. Place the dough into a greased bowl, turning it to cover the top with grease. Cover and let rise in a warm place until double in size, about 1 1/2 hours. Punch down the dough and return it to the bowl. Let the dough rise at room temperature until not quite doubled in volume, about 1 1/2 hours.
Grease a 9" x 5" x 3" loaf pan. Roll out the dough into a 12" x 17" rectangle. Combine the remaining 1/4 cup sugar with the cinnamon and reserve 1 tbsp. of the mixture. Melt 1 tbsp. butter and brush it all over the dough. Sprinkle the mixture evenly over the dough. Roll up the dough like a jellyroll, starting at the narrow end. Seal the dough along the edge and tuck the ends under. Place the dough, sealed edge down, into the pan. Cover and let the dough rise until almost doubled, about 1 to 1 1/2 hours.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Brush the top of the loaf with the remaining butter and sprinkle with the reserved cinnamon sugar. Bake for 40 minutes, covering the loaf with foil if the top starts to get too brown. Allow the bread to cool on a rack, then store in a Zip-lock bag until ready to use.