But let me first tell you a story. Over the past few weeks I’ve been in a deluge of packages — online orders of vases, chairs, carpets and all the accoutrements that will ultimately transform a small, barren space into one of comfort and warmth. All was well with the world until I discovered that someone in my building has been pilfering my packages. Several items can be traced to one particular apartment, whose residents are petulant and not entirely neighborly (unless you happen to be another parent). After several failed attempts to contact my neighbors, I posted a note in the lobby of my building, asking folks to return my items had they taken them in error. I spent a 1/2 hour writing this note, because I want to express my disappointment in possibly living in a place where this might happen, but giving the benefit of the doubt that it may have been someone who doesn’t live in my building.
After a few days of radio silence, I’m left sad, a little despondent, and feeling a little different. When I initially learned of the theft, I promised to embark on the FELICIA REIGN OF TERROR, go on a “house to house” in locating the stolen items, but as I managed to coordinate new shipments and refunds from the merchants, I decided to simply let this go.
I know that karma always rights things in the end. It always does.
So while I spent my day off negotiating re-shipments of packages and waiting for a chair that landed in my hallway damaged (another rage-inducing story), I decided to spend some time doing one of my favorite things — BAKING.
After recalling nights where I woke, stumbled out of bed to feast on slices of my pumpkin pull-apart bread, I decided to make a more virtuous version, using cinnamon and almonds.
While I do ADORE this dairy-free version, I have noticed a slight after-taste due to the Stevia. Not an issue, AT ALL, but I noticed it after chowing on a few slices. However, if you’re keen on using sugar I would double the sugar sizing in the recipe below, and bake accordingly.
INGREDIENTS: Recipe adapted from Joy the Baker, with considerable modifications.
For the Bread
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup coconut flour
2 tbsp Truvia
2 1/4 tsp (1 envelope) active dry yeast
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 cup unsalted Earth Balance butter
1/2 cup + 1 tbsp almond milk
1/4 cup water
2 large eggs, at room temperature
1 tsp pure almond extract
For the Filling
1/2 cup Truvia
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp fresh ground nutmeg
1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted until browned
In a large mixing bowl whisk together 2 cups of all-purpose flour, Truvia, yeast, and salt. Whisk the eggs and set aside.
In a small saucepan, add the almond milk to the butter and melt. Remove the pan from the heat and whisk in the water and almond extract. Let the mixture stand for 1 minute before adding it to the flour mixture.
Pour the milk mixture into the dry ingredients and mix with a spatula. Add the eggs and stir the mixture until the eggs are incorporated into the batter. Keep stirring the mixture until it just comes together. Add the remaining 3/4 cup of coconut flour and stir with the spatula for about 2 minutes. Depending upon the day and the moisture outside, I would add the coconut flour and stir as you go to ensure the batter isn’t dry. The mixture will be sticky, and if you’ve got this consider yourself GOLDEN.
Place the dough is a large, greased bowl. I used coconut spray as it’s delicious, fragrant and does the job. Cover with plastic wrap and a clean kitchen towel. Place the dough in a warm space and allow to rest until doubled in size, approximately 1 hour.
While the dough rises, whisk together the Truvia, cinnamon and nutmeg for the filling. Set aside. Melt 2 ounces of butter until browned. Set aside. Grease and flour a 9x5x3-inch loaf pan. Set that aside too.
Deflate (translation: punch down. gently) the risen dough and knead about 2 tablespoons of coconut flour into the dough. The dough will feel soft, aerated and yielding — light almost. If your dough is STILL sticky, add a touch more flour. Cover the dough with a clean kitchen towel and let rest for 5 minutes. On a lightly floured work surface, use a rolling pin to roll the dough out. The dough should be 12-inches wide and about 20-inches long. Use a pastry brush to spread melted butter across all of the dough. Sprinkle with all of the sugar and cinnamon mixture.
Slice the dough vertically, into six equal-sized strips. Stack the strips on top of one another and slice the stack into six equal slices once again. You’ll have six stacks of six squares. Layer the dough squares in the loaf pan like a flip-book. Place a kitchen towel over the loaf pan and allow in a warm place for 30 to 45 minutes or until almost doubled in size. Before the bread hits the oven , dab the peaks with softened Earth Balance butter.
Place a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees F. Place loaf in the oven and bake for 25-30, until the top is very golden brown. The top may be lightly browned, but the center may still be raw. A nice, dark, golden brown will ensure that the center is cooked as well.
Remove from the oven and allow to rest for 20 to 30 minutes. Run a butter knife around the edges of the pan to loosen the bread and invert onto a clean board. Eat this with abandon. Eat until you can eat no more.
And while this bread isn’t as buttery as loaves with full-fat milk and dairy-butter, I found the loaf light, sugary, and utter perfection. Sometimes you don’t need cake DRIPPING with butter for it to be fabulous. Sometimes a touch of sugar is simply ENOUGH.