Braided Cinnamon Bread

Want to impress your guests?  Make this bread!  It smells wonderful when it's baking, it looks pretty and tastes fantastic!  And guess what, it's easy to make!  Yes it takes a little over an hour and a half but an hour of that is just letting the dough rise.

Here is a link to the recipe:

The bread sounded good, of course.  But what really drew me to this recipe was the vessel in which it's baked, a (Lodge) cast iron pan!  I love my cast iron.  I love Lodge.  I bake bread in my Lodge dutch oven and make just about anything in my Lodge cast iron pan.

I have a 12" pan.  The recipe called for a 10"  but I wasn't worried that mine was "too big."  I also love that the pan has such high sides.  This is great for things like fajitas or other dishes that require a lot of stirring, things stay in the pan!

Don't have a cast iron pan?  No worries.  A cake pan will work just fine!

The dough is simple, a little yeast of course, sugar, milk (the recipe called for whole milk, I only had skim in the house - it was a last minute decision to make this - and it worked fine), an egg yolk, flour, salt and butter.  The dough is kneaded just a little then put in an oiled bowl to rise for an hour.

Once risen the dough is rolled into a large rectangle and topped with a mixture of butter, brown sugar, cinnamon and the scrapings of a vanilla bean.  

If you've never worked with an actual vanilla bean you should at least once.  The aroma is so much better than vanilla extract.  Speaking of which, if you don't have a vanilla bean, or some vanilla bean paste in your cupboard, you can just substitute vanilla extract for the bean, 1 teaspoon of extract per bean in the recipe.

I also love this Vietnamese cinnamon from King Arthur Flour.  Ingredients make the dish!

Roll the dough up and pinch the ends.  Then the fun part!

Slice the dough down the middle, length-wise then twist it, making sure that the cinnamon filling 

Bring the ends together and place the dough in your cast iron skillet then brush it with an egg wash and sprinkle it with sugar.  I used a little vanilla sugar I picked up at Penzey's.

Pop this in the oven for about 25 minutes and out comes this beautiful cinnamon bread sure to impress your friends and family!

But wait, we're not done yet.  Frosting!  The recipe includes a recipe for a simple butter cream frosting.  Note, it makes A LOT of frosting.  I maybe used a quarter of it.  You could definitely half the frosting recipe and still be fine!

This was delicious!  Everything you would expect from cinnamon bread.  Crunchy on the outside, melt-in-your mouth on the inside.  I could have eaten the whole thing!

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