I will always associate Canada with cinnamon bread and blueberry pie. I’m sure that Canadians eat other things, but they just don’t interest me. You see I’m in something of a love triangle with cinnamon bread and blueberry pie; there just isn’t room for anything else.
I visited Canada for the first time in 1998 and have returned a few times since. Every time I have stayed with my wonderful relatives, Donna and Brian. Donna is Canada’s answer to Martha Stewart. By that I mean she is a domestic goddess- highly skilled at arts, crafts and cooking. I didn’t realise it at the time, but my 11 year old self elevated her to a culinary pedestal; that pedestal hasn’t got any lower in the intervening years, even though I’ve grown a foot.
I don’t think I had had much experience of either cinnamon or blueberries prior to that first Canadian expedition. They must have seemed hugely exotic. I have very happy memories of evenings by their campfire eating Donna’s blueberry pie with ice cream. Sounds wholesome, doesn’t it? It doesn’t get much better than that at 11 years old.
Mornings were something to be excited about too- the smell of cinnamon would lure us to the kitchen for homemade cinnamon toast with lashings of butter. We were immediately suckers for this yeasty, swirly stuff- so much so that Donna has been forced to produce large batches of it when visiting the UK.
Both cinnamon bread and blueberry pie seem to be a very North American thing. If you are in the UK and craving it- as I was last week- there are no shortcuts. And when the craving struck I ran with it. Bread making is more of a marathon than a sprint- admittedly- but it’s the perfect weekend activity: you can do your shopping or go to the gym in between rises and it is time rather than labour intensive. And what a wonderful weekend scent to have around the house. The yeasty, cinnamony aroma is unreal. It’s not unlike being enfolded in a big, warm hug.
I didn’t have Donna’s recipe to hand but found an excellent one on the internet. It’s very comprehensive and I can’t recommend it enough. Follow it to the letter and you won’t fail. Just maybe add more cinnamon- I don’t think you can have too much. The dough is very easy to work with, by which I mean that it doesn’t stick to everything it touches (as I imagined it might) and is easy to pick up and move around at the rolling- out stage. Much, much easier than pastry.
I was a bit sceptical about using instant mashed potato as an ingredient but it seems to make the bread light and fluffy. Smash is my new super ingredient.
I doubled the recipe to get two loaves (it’s silly not to if you are going to all the effort). And even then I had leftover dough. On a whim, I fashioned it into a cinnamon bun arrangement. I actually preferred the buns to the regular loaves and promptly celebrated my genius by wolfing down three for dinner- healthy. The rest are in my freezer to make Monday mornings worth getting out of bed for… though it’s unlikely they will last that long.
All that’s left to say is that I am almost squirming with excitement: I just can’t wait to do it all again.
I could reproduce the recipe here but the original leaves no room for improvement. It’s an American recipe but handily, you can convert the measurements into metric at the click of a mouse. Click here for the recipe.
Make sure you leave the yeast- water mixture until it is frothy (and freaky looking).
Mix all of the ingredients together. So far so good.
Knead in the bowl for a good five minutes.
Leave to rise until the dough doubled in size (around 1.5 hrs).
Roll out the dough and sprinkle with cinnamon and sugar.
Roll it up and pop it in the tin. Leave to rise again. And then bake!
Project cinnamon bun.