Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Cinnamon Graham Bread

It’s not just us. The folks in the 19th century needed to be told to eat whole grains, too. At least I assume so, because graham flour, coarsely ground whole wheat flour, was named after Reverend Sylvester Graham, a Presbyterian minister and advocate of whole wheat flour. I don’t know whether he preached on the goodness of whole grains, but he at least talked to enough people about it to get his name associated with wheat flour that has not been stripped of the grain’s germ and bran.

I bought a little bag of graham flour in December, just to make the crust of these Cranberry Bars. I needed to use up the rest of it, and, while I think it could be used to replace regular whole wheat flour in recipes, I decided to try something that called for it specifically. (My out-of-control recipe collection allows me to do that.) I went with a cinnamon raisin graham bread from Better Homes and Gardens: The Complete Guide to Bread Machine Baking, but I opted in favor of dried cranberries instead of raisins and added some chopped pecans.

This loaf was a little denser than my usual whole wheat sandwich loaf, but it was by no means a brick. The taste is delicious: gently sweetened by honey, perked up by the sweet-tart cranberries, and warmly spiced by the cinnamon. (I added a little more cinnamon than the original recipe suggested). The pecans provide some nice crunch, but also their characteristic sweet and nutty flavor. I’m always surprised by how much flavor pecans can add to a loaf of bread. (Note to self: put more pecans in baked goods!)

I think Reverend Graham would have approved of this reasonably healthy loaf, although he likely would be confused by the craisins. (I’m convinced there’s a special reward in the afterlife for the inventor of craisins.) I’m not sure what he would have thought of some of the slightly less wholesome things we make with graham flour, such as s’mores or Teddy Grahams. Hey, buddy, people are saying your name every day. What more do you want? Besides, if they get us to eat our whole grains, they can’t be all bad.

Cinnamon Graham Bread with Cranberries and Pecans
Adapted from Better Homes and Gardens: The Complete Guide to Bread Machine Baking

You could change the nuts and dried fruit in this bread to taste. For example, raisins and walnuts might be nice.

You could also use regular whole wheat flour if you do not have graham flour.

1 cup warm water (about 100-110 F)
3 tablespoons honey
2 tablespoons butter, cut up
2 ¼ teaspoons (1 envelope) active dry yeast
2 cups bread flour, divided (or more if needed)
1 cup graham flour
1 tablespoon gluten
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon fine salt
1/3 cup dried cranberries
1/3 cup chopped pecans

1. Combine the water, honey, butter and yeast in the bowl of a stand mixer or other large bowl. Let stand about 5 minutes or until the yeast is foamy.

2. Add 1 cup bread flour, graham flour, gluten and cinnamon. Mix until well blended into a wet batter. Cover and let stand 15-30 minutes.

3. Add the salt and about ½ cup of the remaining bread flour. Using the dough hook for the stand mixer, knead for about 10 minutes, gradually adding as much of the remaining bread flour as needed to make a smooth, elastic dough that is slightly tacky to the touch. (If you’re not using an electric mixer, stir in as much bread flour as you can. Turn out the dough on a floured surface and knead by hand, adding enough bread flour to make a smooth, elastic dough that is slightly tacky to the touch. This should take about 10 minutes.) Knead in the dried cranberries and pecans.

4. Oil a large bowl or spray it with cooking spray. Form the dough into a ball and set it in the prepared bowl. Oil or spray the top of the dough and place a sheet of plastic wrap on top. Cover with a towel and let stand for about 1 hour or until roughly doubled in size.

5. Gently deflate the dough and form it into a new ball. Cover and let stand for a few minutes. Spray an 8” x 5” bread loaf pan with cooking spray or brush it with oil. Shape the dough into a loaf and set it in the pan. Cover with a towel and let stand about 1 hour, or until roughly double in size.

6. Preheat the oven to 375 F. Bake the bread at 375 F for about 35 minutes, or until it tests done. (The bread will be browned and sound hollow when tapped, or you can test the internal temperature with a probe thermometer. It should read about 200 F.)

7. Remove the bread from the pan and cool on a wire rack.

Makes a 1 ½ pound loaf.

Other recipes like this one: Wheat Sandwich Bread, Walnut Buttermilk Bread

One year ago: Coconut Pineapple Pancakes

Two years ago: Spaetzle with Cabbage, Bacon and Onions

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