Family portrait of my two loaves - the smaller one has the cinnamon swirl. It didn't rise as much as the plain one, I think because I rolled it up rather than folded it like I did the plain one.
The plain loaf - just as good as the cinnamon, but in an "oh wow, plain bread" kind of way...
The cinnamon loaf was no joke. After eating this for breakfast two days in a row, I'm spoiled for life. I think my boyfriend was bummed, he hardly got to see the cinnamon loaf before I'd eaten it all... I'm not sorry, I'd do it all over again (and probably will).
When I saw that this would be the first recipe we'd be tackling from Julia and Dorie's baking bible, I had mixed feelings. On the one hand, I've been wanted to try making bread from scratch ever since I got my stand mixer a few months ago, but after reading dozens of bread recipes claiming to be the best, I have to admit, I was intimidated. After reading this recipe over several times I decided it sounded basic enough; it was now or never. I'm happy to report that bread-making is among the easiest and most therapeutic things in the world, you just have to swallow your fears and jump right in. (You know what's not easy? Making homemade pop tarts - true story.) There's nothing quite like the smell of homemade bread fresh out of the oven - and, trust me, you'll never eat a better-tasting sandwich than the one made with bread you created with your own two hands.
The recipe for this bread can be found on Laurie and Jules' blogs (and, obviously, in the Baking With Julia book...). The only change I made was adding the cinnamon swirl. To do this, combine 1/3 cup of sugar with 1 tablespoon of cinnamon in a bowl and set aside. (Note - the quantities listed here are only enough for one loaf. If you want to make both loaves with the cinnamon swirl, which you totally should, you'll need to double the ingredients.) After rolling out the dough, brush 2-3 tablespoons of melted butter over the top and sprinkle the cinnamon-sugar mixture over it. The recipe says to fold the dough into thirds but I rolled the cinnamon dough for a tighter, more swirled effect. You certainly don't have to deviate from the folding if you don't want, but who are we kidding, you've already deviated if you've made it this far - own it.