Cinnamon Swirl Bread for the Holidays
Who knew the inner bark of an evergreen tree could taste so good? I’m talking about cinnamon, that sweet and aromatic spice that makes everything taste amazing — from coffee to cake to Fireball Whisky.
Produced in Indonesia, China, Vietnam and Sri Lanka, cinnamon is thought to have anti-inflammatory, antioxidant and antibacterial properties. It may lower cholesterol, blood pressure and blood sugar levels. But, to me, the real bonus is that Cinnamon. Tastes. Outrageously. Good. You can buy ground cinnamon, or you can grind your own, using cinnamon sticks and a spice mill or coffee grinder.
For starters, try this Cinnamon Swirl Tea Bread, a lovely addition to Christmas breakfast or as a warm and welcome holiday hostess gift.
For the record, when I bake for the holidays, I start with all fresh ingredients. This is the time of year to empty out that old tin of baking powder and buy a new one; to invest in fresh butter, eggs, flour and top-quality cinnamon. Use vegetable shortening to grease the pan. And finally, if desired, add a small handful of chopped pecans or walnuts to the Cinnamon Swirl Filling.
Cinnamon Swirl Tea Bread
Makes 1 loaf
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
3/4 cup sugar
2 large eggs
2 tsp vanilla
2 1/4 cups flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
2/3 cup buttermilk
Cinnamon Swirl Filling
3/4 cup light brown sugar
2/3 cup flour
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 cup butter
Preheat the oven to 325˚F. Grease a 9 x 5-inch loaf pan and sprinkle with flour.
Make Cinnamon Swirl Filling: In a food processor, mix together the brown sugar, flour and cinnamon. Add the butter and pulse until the filling looks like coarse crumbs. Set aside.
In a large bowl, use an electric mixer to the beat the butter with the sugar. Add the eggs one at a time, lightly beating after each addition. Stir in the vanilla.
In another large bowl, stir together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. With a wooden spoon, stir one-third of the flour mixture into the butter mixture. Stir in half of the buttermilk. Repeat, then add the remaining flour mixture.
With a spatula, scrape half of the batter into the prepared loaf pan. Gently spread half of the Cinnamon Swirl Filling over the batter. Add the remaining batter and top with the remaining filling.
Bake the loaf for about 1 hour, or until a toothpick inserted in the centre comes out clean. Cool in the pan for 10 minutes. Remove from the pan and cool on a rack. Slice and serve.