Cinnamon toast was a staple in my diet growing up. My mom had a little jar tucked away in the spice cabinet to house the precious mixture of cinnamon and granulated sugar. That jar came out morning after morning, as my mom would generously sprinkle the mixture on top of two slices of raisin toast slathered in salted butter.
When I was lucky enough to spend the night at my friend Charlotte's house, or when her mom was feeling extra motherly and would send her to my car with a special treat for me, I got to have some of Charlotte's mom's homemade cinnamon bread. Though I couldn't quite stomach the breakfast of champs that Charlotte was known to indulge in (cinnamon toast and a chocolate milkshake. ever. single. morning.), that cinnamon bread was just what I wanted to shake up my sweet and spicy breakfast routine.
On Christmas morning, my brothers and I always awoke to the scent of cinnamon buns wafting through the house. My mom would wake up at 5 am to start the dough, so that we could all spill into the dining room and devour them just as the last present had been opened. I remember my friend Molly had a warm and sticky batch of monkey bread at her house from time to time that I could have single-handedly consumed in one sitting. There was something both comforting and remarkable about each of those cinnamon breads.
Though this cinnamon pull-apart bread doesn't really have much of a story behind it, I feel like it might just make its way into regular rotation at my house. It's quick and easy, which is not something you can say for all yeasted doughs, and doesn't require much kneading, taking the intimidation factor out of things. It's actually quite beautiful and makes the house smell amazing.
Cinnamon Pull-Apart Bread
Makes 1 loaf
Adapted from Joy the Baker
For the dough:
3 cups all-purpose flour, divided
1/4 cup granulated sugar
2 1/4 teaspoons (1 envelope) active dry yeast, dissolved in 3 tablespoons warm water with a pinch of sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs, at room temperature
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/3 cup whole milk
1/4 cup water
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
For the filling:
1 cup granulated sugar
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and browned
Whisk together 2 cups flour, 1/4 cup granulated sugar, activated dry yeast, and salt. In a separate bowl, whisk eggs. In a small saucepan, heat butter and milk until butter has melted. Add water and vanilla extract. Mix milk mixture into dry ingredients. Add egg yolks and stir to combine (dough will be quite sticky and will take a couple minutes to come together). Add the remaining 3/4 cup flour and stir to combine. Transfer to a well-greased bowl, cover with a sheet of plastic wrap and a clean dish towel. Place in a warm area and let rise for an hour, until doubled. While the dough is rising, mix together sugar, cinnamon, and nutmeg in a small bowl and set aside. Once dough has doubled in size, deflate the risen dough and knead in 1/4 cup more flour. Cover with a clean towel and let rise for five minutes. Grease a 9-by-5-inch loaf pan. On a lightly floured surface, roll the dough out using a floured rolling pin until the dough is 20 inches long and 12 inches high. Using a pastry brush, brush the dough with the melted, browned butter. Sprinkle cinnamon sugar mixture over dough. Slice the dough vertically into six equal strips. Set the strips on top of one another and slice into six squares. You will now have six stacks of six squares. Layer dough into greased loaf pan like a flip book. Cover dough with clean kitchen towel and let rise for 30 more minutes. While dough is rising, preheat the oven, with the rack set in the center, to 350 degrees. Place loaf in the oven and bake for 30-35 minutes, until deep golden brown on top to ensure it is cooked all the way through. Rest on a wire rack to cool slightly. Serve warm.