Sunday, May 2nd, 2010
It’s been an unseasonably chilly, snowy week here. I honestly thought I’d never tire of snow, but today, as May begins, it’s getting old.
And honestly, the cold, dreary weather feels like a reminder of other kinds of dark and dreary, of lonely and tired and frustrated. You know, the kinds of dark and dreary that plague us all from time to time, but seem more prevalent in places and roles that still feel new and uncertain.
And still I find myself reminded that beneath the snow, there are golden daffodils and bright pink tulips, poking their persistent heads through winter’s grasping chokehold, choosing to embrace what little sunshine they can find. It would be easy for them to succumb to the unexpected cold snap, but they don’t.
Most of the time I’d like to think that I’m smarter than this; that I’ve learned by now to automatically choose the higher, brighter path and to ignore the dark and dreary. But it’s an intentional choice — we aren’t all biologically programmed, like the flowers, to always seek the sunlight. It’s a daily, and sometimes hourly, choice.
“The Lord has promised good to me, His word my hope secures; He will my shield and portion be, as long as life endures.”
So for today, at least, I’m choosing hope and joy, and cinnamon. What warms you on the inside?
Adapted from Sweet Beet and Green Bean
1/3 c sugar
1 tbsp active yeast
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup warm water
4 tbsp canola oil, divided, plus some for greasing
1 2/3 cup white whole wheat flour
1/2 – 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 tbsp cinnamon
1 tsp vanilla bean paste
1 1/2 tsp orange zest
Stir the warm water, sugar, salt and active yeast together in a medium-sized bowl. Let sit for 10-15 minutes or until the mixture begins to foam.
Add 2 tablespoons oil, then slowly mix in the wheat flour until it is just firm enough to knead. Add 1/4 cup all-purpose flour, and a bit more if it’s still too sticky, or a little less if it’s too firm. Turn out onto a floured surfaced and flour your hands.
Knead for about 5 minutes, sprinkling more flour if it sticks to your hands. If you prefer, knead for 3-5 minutes with the dough hook on a stand mixer.
When you are done kneading pull the edges of the ball of dough to one side, so the opposite side is even and smooth. Put about a tablespoon of oil to grease a large bowl, and turn the dough over in the oil until it’s coated. Cover the bowl in plastic wrap and a kitchen towel and leave in a warm place – like in a sunny window sill or near a warm stove – for its first rise until it doubles in size, which should be about 45-60 minutes.
Remove the dough from the bowl and punch down. Press into a rectangle the width of your bread pan and about twice as long. Mix together the brown sugar, cinnamon, vanilla and 2 tablespoons oil to make the sweet filling. Spread the filling evenly across the dough, and sprinkle with orange zest. Starting at one of the short sides, roll up the dough.
Grease your bread pan and place the rolled dough inside. Sprinkle with cinnamon and set in a warm place until it doubles in size, about 30-45 minutes.
Bake at 400°F for about 20 minutes or until golden brown and yielding a hollow sound when tapped on the top. Cool in the pan on a wire rack completely before slicing.
High-Altitude Notes: The first rise (doubling in size) should only take about 45 minutes, and only allow the loaf to increase in size by 1/3 for the second rise (about 30 minutes). Bake at 425°F for 15-20 minutes.