I recently had the distinct pleasure of making cinnamon swirl challah with my two adorable grandchildren. You can see Remy, age 6 and Freddy, age 2 ½ in the photo joyfully punching down the dough after its first rise. Then, Remy and I rolled the dough into a rectangle which we brushed with melted margarine, sprinkled with cinnamon sugar, then shaped into a jelly roll that fit into a 9 by 5-inch loaf pan. We baked the loaf for 35 minutes, let it cool briefly, and enjoyed slices of tender fragrant challah infused with swirls of cinnamon. The next day, we cut the remaining loaf into 1-inch slices and made a dairy free French toast, which we served to Mom and Dad and Papa. The consensus on the French toast: best we’ve ever tasted!
I’m so grateful to have had that time to bond with my grandchildren in such a fun and meaningful way. I hope that one day Remy and Freddy will remember their special time in the kitchen with Bubbe: the stuff of which fond food memories are made of.
You will need a 9x5x3 inch loaf pan. Spray the pan with Pam.
Place yeast in warm, water with 1 and 1/2 teaspoons sugar, and allow to proof (to bubble up a bit so you know that the yeast are alive) 5 to 10 minutes.
Place flour, 1/4 Cup sugar and salt in food processor and pulse a few times to mix. Beat egg and oil in bowl, then add to water/yeast mixture.
Start food processor. Pour in liquids. Combine for about 15 seconds. It should be well combined. When all combined, process for another 40 seconds. Dough will be stickier than when you knead by hand.
Remove from food processor, knead just a few times, adding a little flour if necessary to prevent sticking. Place in bowl which has been lightly greased with oil and allow dough to rise until doubled in bulk. This usually takes a couple of hours. Make sure to cover the dough and leave it in a warm place to rise.
Punch down. Roll the dough into a rectangle approximately 8 inches by 10 inches. Brush the melted margarine over the rectangle, mix together the ¼ sugar and cinnamon and sprinkle evenly over the melted margarine. Roll up the dough, jelly roll style, starting at the 8-inch end. Seal the edge, then place seam side down in the prepared loaf pan.
Cover the bread and allow to rise again for about 45 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Beat 1 egg with 1 teaspoon water and with a pastry brush, brush the egg glaze gently on the bread.
Bake in a preheated oven for about 35 minutes.
Bread should come out burnished to a deep golden brown.
Allow the bread to cool on a cooling rack. If desired, combine the finishing glaze ingredients and drizzle over the cinnamon swirl bread.
Some tips for success: Make sure oven is preheated and it is calibrated to the correct temperature. You can buy an oven thermometer—it will let you know if your oven is at the correct temperature. If not, you can adjust it.
Make sure to use bread flour—it has a higher protein content and consequently a higher gluten content which provides the structure needed for a good bread.