I was fortunate enough to grow up in a very musical family. At age 5, I began playing the cello and I took private lessons and participated in youth orchestras until I graduated from high school. I now work at a music education program for youth, so clearly it had a huge impact on me and what I value in life. But that isn’t what this post is about…
For awhile, I had private lessons each week about 45 minutes from my house. My mom would pick me up from elementary school on early release Wednesdays and drive me to my lesson (thanks mom). Lucky for us, Great Harvest Bread Co. was on our way home so we would sometimes treat ourselves and stop after my lesson. It blew my mind that they gave each customer a slice of bread to enjoy while deciding what loaves to buy and take home. It was the best! I’m not even sure if Great Harvest still exists, and I certainly haven’t frequented one in years. I think we stopped going when mom was diagnosed with Celiac Disease – sad days. But clearly it made a lasting impression on me because 15-20 years later, I still remember it so fondly – good marketing technique Great Harvest!
The loaves always switched so I didn’t get the same every time but my all time favorite was definitely this delicious loaf that was essentially a giant cinnamon bun with buttery, spicy swirls and chunks of nuts (either walnuts or pecans). It was insane and I loved it.
All this is to say, I finally felt like I had mastered the spelt bread loaves I’ve been making for a few months so this week I decided to switch it up. Inspired by my childhood memory of drooling over this delicious nutty spiced swirl bread…I decided to make a Cinnamon Pecan Swirl Spelt Loaf.
Cinnamon Pecan Swirl Spelt Loaf
For the most part, the method is the same as in my Basic Spelt Loaf recipe. I’ll summarize the method but will mostly emphasize the steps that are different – so please refer to that recipe if you need a refresher on the basic steps of bread making!
- 4.5 cups whole spelt flour
- 1 tsp salt
- 3 tbsp honey (or raw sugar)
- 2 tsp active dry yeast
- 1 cup warm water + 3/4 cup warm almond milk
Cinnamon Pecan Swirl*
- 1/3 cup butter – softened to room temperature (not melted)
- 2 tbsp raw sugar
- 2 tsp cinnamon
- 1/3 cup raw pecans chopped
*I think next time I’m going to add more of every type of filling to make it even more decadent, so just experiment with the amount of sweetness and nutty bites you like!
- Combine the water and almond milk in a microwavable bowl and warm it up (not too hot). I decided to do half almond milk because some of the recipes I glanced at for sweet breads used dairy instead of water. I’m not sure if it made a difference but the loaf turned out great so it’s what I’m putting in this recipe – feel free to experiment with all water though!
- Stir the honey or sugar into the warm water mixture and add the active dry yeast. Let it sit until foamy – about 10 minutes.
- Combine salt and spelt flour in a large bowl. (Less salt than my regular loaf)
- Add yeast liquid to the flour and combine using hands or spatula (or standing mixer if you have one). Once combined, flour the sides of the bowl and leave the dough for 1 hour to rise. Cover with a dish towel and leave in a warm place.
- While dough is rising, mix softened butter together with 1 tablespoon sugar, 1 teaspoon cinnamon and a dash of salt.
- Once dough has risen, empty it out onto a well floured work surface. Knead it a little bit and then use a rolling pin to roll it into a rectangle (short end should be about the length of your loaf pan!). Do this carefully, mine stuck a lot and I had to use spelt flour on top of the dough to make sure it didn’t get too stuck to the pin – don’t get frustrated, just be gentle!
- Spread the butter mixture evenly onto the dough rectangle. Then add the pecans and sprinkle the rest of the sugar and cinnamon on top!
- Carefully roll the dough into a loaf – start at one side, using pressure to keep the roll nice and snug but not so tight you squeeze it into a weird shape…be nice to it! Keeping it snug will ensure it rises evenly and there’s no big gab between the layers!
- Place the loaf into a greased loaf pan being careful to put the side with lines or folds on the bottom!
- Leave your loaf to proof for 30 minutes, covered with a dish towel in a warm place.
- Preheat your oven to 450 degrees.
- Optional: Combine 1 egg and a tiny bit of milk and brush it over the top of your bread before baking! I did this but don’t know if it made a big difference. You could also spray your bread with a little water as soon as you put it into the oven – the steam helps create a crust.
- Bake for 15 minutes at 450 degrees (keep an eye so the top does not get too brown!). Then turn down the oven to 350 and bake for 20 more minutes. If the top is getting too dark, cover it with aluminum foil. The goal is to make sure the inside is fully cooked, without burning the top! You want to make sure those delicious swirls get baked through and are not soggy, so I recommend baking the full 35 minutes!
- Most important step – ENJOY THE HEAVENLY AROMA IN YOUR HOUSE WHILE IT BAKES! 🙂
- Remove from oven – unlike my regular spelt bread, it did not feel quite as hard and didn’t sound hollow when I removed it. This made me worried but once it cooled and I cut into it…it was absolutely perfect! So if it is browned and feels relatively solid, don’t be too worried if it doesn’t sound perfectly hollow!
- Remove from loaf pan and allow to cool on a rack of some sort OR be sure to rotate the side it is cooling on so it is cooled on all sides!
Eat warm or toasted, slathered with butter or margarine and enjoy!