Sunday, November 13, 2011

Swedish Batter Bread with Cinnamon and Cranberries . . .

My husband walked into the kitchen, spotted this newly baked item on the kitchen counter, and asked the question I'd been anticipating.

Him: "What kind of bundt cake is that?"
Me: "Um, well, actually it's not a bundt cake. It's called Swedish batter bread, with cinnamon and dried cranberries. It's made with yeast."

Him: "Really? But didn't you bake it in one of those bundt pans?"
Me: "No. It was made in a kugelhopf pan."
Brief silence.
Him, with affectionate sarcasm: "Ohhhh, of course. A kugelhopf pan. I should have known."

He loves to tease me about the odd minutiae of baking. The wacky pans, the loonier methods/techniques, the sometimes off-beat ingredients. And that's okay with me. I figure it helps keep me from taking all of this too seriously. I assumed he'd have something funny to say about this particular recipe, because this is one of those baked goods that's not easily categorized.

It has the texture of a hearty cake or maybe even a muffin, which I found kind of surprising. I'd expected it to be at least a little more bready. The flavor, though, was as I expected--nicely mild, not very sweet, but still cinnamony. Luckily, Andy (the hubby), really loved this batter bread. He munched it with coffee in the morning for a few days, and I tucked a little piece of it into his lunchbox. Yesterday, when it was legitimately stale and he found out I'd thrown the small remainder away, he pretended to cry. That guy.

About this recipe . . . 

Adapted from The Great Scandinavian Baking Book by Beatrice Ojakangas (a wonderful book, by the way), this batter bread was originally intended to feature saffron and golden raisins. I toyed with the idea of using saffron with dried cranberries (I'm not crazy about golden raisins), but then realized I wasn't even in a saffron mood at all. I was in a cinnamon mood.

I also decided to refrain from sprinkling the finished bread with the recommended powdered sugar, and used cinnamon sugar instead. That was a good choice. I modified the method for putting this together slightly, used instant yeast instead of active dry, and added in a little nutmeg along with the cinnamon. I reworded the recipe to reflect all of my changes.

Swedish Batter Bread with Cinnamon and Cranberries
(For a printable version of this recipe,  click here!)

Yield: One 10" loaf made in a kugelhopf, tube, or bundt pan

1 and 1/2 tsp. instant yeast (or, 1 package active dry yeast, which you'll need to proof in the 1/4 cup of warm water below)
1/4 cup lukewarm water
1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 cup granulated sugar
3 large eggs, room temperature
1/4 tsp. salt (I used fine sea salt.)
1/2 cup milk, slightly warm (Ojakangas says to scald and cool the milk; whether this old-fashioned scalding step is still necessary these days with modern milk is up for debate. In any case, use milk that's warm. I did not scald it first.)
1 and 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg (Freshly ground is best; do it yourself when possible!)
3 cups all-purpose flour (I used unbleached.)
3/4 cup dried cranberries
3 Tbsp. granulated sugar mixed with 1 tsp. ground cinnamon (to sprinkle on finished bread)

In the large bowl of your mixer, cream together the butter and sugar until fluffy. Add in the room-temperature eggs along with the salt, beating until smooth. On the lowest speed, add in the yeast, water, and milk.

In a separate bowl, whisk the cinnamon and nutmeg together with the flour, then add it gradually into the mixer bowl, still on the low speed. Raise the speed to medium, and beat for five minutes, stopping to scrape the bowl and beaters now and then.

Add in the cranberries on low speed, mixing until combined.

Cover the bowl with plastic wrap, place it in a warm spot, and let the batter rise until it's doubled in size; this will take about 1and 1/2 to 2 hours.

Prepare your pan by liberally brushing it with soft, unsalted butter and lightly flouring it, or use baking spray (if you use baking spray, be careful not to let it pool in the bottom of the pan. Before you transfer your batter from the bowl into the pan, use a pastry brush to even it out and make sure you've gotten all the nooks and crannies, especially if you're using a kugelhopf/bundt pan.)

When the batter has doubled, stir it down; it will deflate considerably. Pour all of the batter into the prepared pan. Cover the top of the pan with plastic wrap and place it in a warm spot until the batter approaches the top of the pan (I let my batter rise to about an inch from the top of the pan); this should take about 1 hour.

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees while the batter's rising.

Bake the bread for about 40 to 45 minutes. It should be quite golden brown on the outside. I tested mine with a toothpick, too.

Cool the bread in its pan for 15 minutes then invert it onto a cooling rack.

While still warm but not hot, set the bread still on its rack over a baking sheet and liberally dust the top of it with the cinnamon sugar.

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