6:00 AM - Aubrie rolls over, opens her eyes, and notices it is light. Immediately she throws off the bedclothes and both feet hit the floor as she leaps out of bed. I roll over and crack one eye, check the time, and tell her it is too early to wake up. "But it is light!" she responds, surprised at my lack of enthusiasm to greet the day. I (sadly) cannot recall the last time I had that much energy upon awaking.
Deacon and Aubrie came for a sleepover last night. What a treat! ....for me (aside from the 6:00 AM wakeup). It was even pretty nice to have Aubrie creep into my bed in the dark hours of the morning after a bad dream - only pretty nice because restless would be a good way to describe her sleep. And to be honest, although I hoped for a later wakeup time, I really anticipated that 6:00 would be as late as I could expect. Expecting that, I made bread dough after the kids went to bed last night so that we could make some yummy cinnamon-sugar pull-apart bread for breakfast.
After all I have had to say about healthy breakfasts, I must admit that this does not qualify as a healthy breakfast. It doesn't matter how one tries to justify it or rationalize - this is just not a healthy breakfast. Believe me, I tried. The best I could come up with was (a) at least it is not sugared cereal (which is a joke because as far as sugar goes - this is loaded) or (b) the ingredients are not synthetic or overly processed - if you don't count the sugar. So, there goes my credibility. But it was a sleepover, at Grandy's, and although I draw the line at feeding my grandkids sugared cereal I wanted them to have fun and to make good memories, so we made the sugar-y bread and I added scrambled eggs and fresh fruit to the menu in an attempt to balance things a bit. I don't know about the balance but we did have a lot of fun.
Cinnamon-Sugar Pull-Apart Bread
2 1/2 cups unbleached white flour
1/4 cup honey
2 1/4 tsp instant dry yeast
3/4 tsp salt
1/4 cup butter
1/3 cup milk
1/4 cup water
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
3/4 cup brown sugar
2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp cardamom
1/4 cup butter, melted
In a large mixing bowl, whisk together 2 cups flour, yeast, and salt. Combine the honey and butter with the milk and melt in microwave just until the butter is melted. Add the water, stir and let stand for a few minutes, or until the mixture is warm but not hot. Pour the milk mixture into the dry ingredients and mix with a wooden spoon. Add the eggs and stir well. Add the remaining flour and stir for about 2 minutes. The mixture will be a bit sticky and rough.
Place the dough in a large bowl and cover with plastic wrap and a kitchen towel. Let rise until doubled - about 1 hour. Punch the dough down. (At this point you can refrigerate the dough overnight and continue in the morning if you want to have the bread for breakfast. If you do you will want to take the dough out of the fridge and let it warm up for about 30 minutes before continuing. )
Butter a 9"x5"x3" loaf pan. Whisk together the sugar, cinnamon, and cardamom. Set these aside.
Deflate the dough. On a lightly floured surface, roll the dough out with a rolling pin into a rough rectangle about 12"x 20".
Use a pastry brush to spread the melted butter over all of the dough. It will seem like a lot of butter but try to use it all.
Sprinkle with all of the cinnamon and sugar* mixture.
Cut the dough into six even strips across the width of the rectangle.
Stack the strips on top of one another and slice the stack into six equal slices again.
Arrange the dough squares in the loaf pan like you would put cards in a card-file - standing up.
Cover with a towel and let rise in a warm spot for about 40 minutes or until almost doubled. Meanwhile preheat the oven to 350 F. When the dough has risen bake in the oven for 35 minutes, until the top is very brown. (If you take it out when it is golden brown the center may still be undercooked.) Remove from the oven and let rest in the pan for 20 minutes (or if you are just too impatient like we were - about 5 minutes). Loosen the edges of the bread with a knife and invert the pan onto a clean board. You can use a plate to turn it right side up if you want but again we were too anxious to tear into it so it was served upside down - nobody seemed to mind a bit.
We had a great time together with this bread - both making and eating it. Deacon and Aubrie did most of the work with only a little direction for each step, making this a super baking project to do with kids (or for beginning bakers). Everybody felt so successful. Did I mention how absolutely delicious this is?
* In these pictures we were using white sugar but brown is much better.