We’re blessed with a whole flock of new babies in our lives, and that means baking for the new parents. There’s a simple rule I follow in providing food for new parents of second and third children:
Give them delicious and healthy food their older children will eat without whining.
This way, the parents can feed their firstborn, and snitch a bite or two and receive just enough nutrients to survive another round of round-the-clock babycare.
E. & Z. & I had a lovely version of this when we popped in at Great Harvest recently. It’s near where we’ve started martial arts classes, and it takes all the bribery and threats I can muster to get my #1 son there. I definitely credit Great Harvest’s sugary offerings and riding toy collection with my being able to bamboozle him to the dojo last week. And the bread was so good that even in my traumatized state I was inspired to go home and make some of our own, which we then gifted to some of the new parents in our lives. It’s like a cinnamon roll in loaf form, and reasonably healthy-ish as far as these things go.
1. Stir together in a large bowl:
- 1 c. bread flour
- 1 c. whole wheat flour
- 1 package (2 1/4 t.) active dry yeast
- 1 1/4 t. salt
Add and stir very well:
- 1 c. very warm water
- 2 T. olive oil
- 1/2 c. pureed pumpkin, acorn, or butternut squash
2. Add 1/4 c. at a time, mixing by hand, or a hand-held blender:
- 3/4 – 1 c. bread flour
Add flour until the dough is moist but not sticky.
3. Turn your oven to 350 degrees for exactly one minute and then turn it off.
4. Knead for 10 minutes, either by hand or in some fancy machine with a dough hook, until the dough is smooth and elastic. But set the timer and don’t cheat your dough, even if it seems nice and elastic before you’ve kneaded for the whole time. Then coat a large bowl with oil, place the dough in it, turn it over once to coat it, then cover with a damp tea towel. Let rise in the oven (make sure you’ve turned it off!) for about 45 minutes, or until doubled in volume.
5. While the dough is rising, prepare the cinnamon filling. Beat together in a large bowl with a handheld mixer on medium speed until very thoroughly combined into a thick paste:
- 1/2 c. packed brown sugar*
- 1/2 c. granulated sugar*
- 1/3 c. unbleached flour
- 2 1/2 t. ground cinnamon
- 1/4 c. (4 T.) unsalted butter, room temperature
- 1/4 c. applesauce or apple butter
6. Preheat oven to 450. Grease a standard (6-cup) loaf pan. Punch down the dough, then stretch it out into an oblong about the width of the loaf pan and about 12″ long. Leave a 1″ border on one short end, then spread the cinnamon filling to about 2″ from the other end, going to about 1″ from the sides of the dough. (You can freeze any leftover filling or put it on your oatmeal or mix it into cookies.)
7. Roll up the dough as tightly as you can, beginning on the short end with the filling that comes closest to the edge. Tuck and push as you roll to get the neatest loaf possible. Place in the loaf pan and bake for 10 minutes, then turn oven down to 350 and bake for 30 more, or until loaf sounds hollow when tapped. Remove loaf to a rack and let cool completely. Eat within three days, or freeze for up to two months.