Every so often, I like to challenge myself with my baking - learn a new technique, gain a few more skills, and just see how far I can go. That's the case with the recipe I saw for Cinnamon Pear Twist Bread. Seriously, a twisted bread looks so neat. I've made sweet rolls before, but I've never done a twist. I couldn't wait to try it.
I did make a number of changes, all of which can be seen in red below as well as in my Notes. As for how to go about making this bread, I'll tell you what I did.
To make this twist bread, you go about it just as if you were making sweet rolls (and you can actually do just that after you've rolled it into a log). But, if you want to challenge yourself, then go for the twist. At first, when I was studying the recipe, it was almost enough to make me go 'round the twist (as they say in Australia). I just couldn't figure out how to proceed. But, after looking at pictures of this recipe on numerous blogs, I finally figured it out.
Apparently, you slice the log in half lengthwise, just as if you were cutting a marrow bone straight down the middle so you can see the insides (not that I've ever cut a marrow bone, but you get the point). The original recipe then tells you to "twist or "braid" the two logs together, working from the center to each end." But, in case you're like me and that makes absolutely no sense, you can do what I did - lay the two halves on each other, like an "X", and then start to twist each part down from where they join in the center.
I highly recommend that you transfer the log to whatever pan you're going to bake it on before you cut it in half. It's just easier to transfer that way. Then, you don't have to worry about juicy dough or filling toppling off.
Once you've mastered the twists, you'll be left with gorgeous loaves. And, they taste every bit as good as they look. The sweet mellowness of the pears is perfect with the super soft bread around them. It's like a strudel in bread form. The original recipe calls for a glaze to be put onto the bread, but I think the bread is sweet enough without it. This totally makes for one delicious breakfast, or a beautiful gift to someone else, or a (healthy) snack. I'd definitely make this again!
Pear and Spice Twist Bread (adapted from Food Babbles)
2 3/4 - 3 1/2 c. all-purpose flour
4 Tbsp. sugar
2 1/2 tsp. active dry yeast
1/2 c. warm water (105F - 110F)
1/8 tsp. salt
3 Tbsp. salted butter, melted
1 tsp. vanilla
1 large egg
1/2 c. Greek yogurt
For the filling:
6 Tbsp. sugar
2 Tbsp. light brown sugar
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. ground ginger
2 large pears, peeled and grated
1 Tbsp. lemon juice
Combine the warm water with the yeast and a pinch of sugar and let sit until foamy, about 5 min. Combine the yogurt with the melted butter and sugar and mix well. Add the yeast mixture and mix in the egg and vanilla. Add the salt and 1 cup of the flour and mix well. Continue adding flour gradually, 1/2 cup at a time, until the dough no longer sticks to the bottom of the bowl.
Turn out onto a floured surface and knead the dough, adding flour as needed. Keep kneading the dough until it is smooth and elastic and passes the windowpane test (i.e. if you pull off a small piece of dough and stretch it with your fingers, you should be able to see a translucent membrane). Put the dough into a well greased bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and let rise until doubled in volume, about 1 1/2 to 2 hours (or 4 hours in the fridge).
For the filling:
Whisk together the sugar, flour, cinnamon, and ginger. Toss the grated pears with the lemon juice, strain out the excess liquid, and add the pears to the flour and sugar mixture. Mix well and set aside.
Gently deflate the risen dough. Turn it out onto a lightly floured work surface. Divide the dough in half and roll the first half into a 10 x 12 inch rectangle. Spread half the filling over the dough, leaving a 1/2" margin along all sides.
Roll the dough into a log, starting from the long side, then seal the ends. Cut the log in half, lengthwise, with a sharp knife (so that you can now see all the filling on the insides). Place each half, filled side up, in an "X" shape in a parchment-lined baking sheet. Starting from the center, twist the two pieces together and pinch the ends. Repeat with the second piece of dough.
Allow the loaves to rise for about 30 min., covered lightly with greased pieces of plastic wrap.
Preheat the oven to 350F and bake the loaves for 30-35 min. until they're lightly browned. When done, remove from the oven.
- The original recipe called for 1 cup of milk. I didn't have any, so I subbed in 1/2 cup nonfat Greek yogurt + 1/2 cup warm water.
- I used active dry yeast instead of instant, hence the proofing step, and also increased the amount from 1 1/2 tsp. to 2 1/2 tsp.
- For the filling, I used some brown sugar in place of white sugar and added some ginger as well.
- I recommend straining the liquid out of the pears after adding the lemon juice, so that it won't be too runny.
- The original recipe said to let the twisted loaves rise for 1 1/2 to 2 hours, but mine were perfectly risen and ready to bake after 30 min.
- The original recipe called for letting the loaves cool for an hour after baking, then drizzling them with a powdered sugar glaze. I like them better without the glaze and think it's tastier when eaten warm, just out of the oven.