Recipe for King Arthur sweet bread dough

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Basic Sweet Bread Dough
Adapted from The King Arthur Flour Baker’s Companion
This soft and pliable dough is suitable for all sorts of shapes, from braids to cinnamon rolls to monkey bread. Soft dough is the secret to tender bread.
3/4 C. warm water
2 tsp. sugar
1 Tbsp. Red Star active dry yeast
1/2 C. King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
3/4 C. plain low-fat yogurt
1/2 C. (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 C. sugar
2 tsp. salt
2 tsp. vanilla or other flavoring, or 2 tsp. citrus zest
4 1/2 to 5 1/2 C. King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour) or substitute King Arthur All-Natural White Whole Wheat Flour)
1 egg plus 1 Tbsp. water for egg wash
In a small bowl, combine the warm water and 2 tsp. sugar. Stir to dissolve. Stir in the yeast and 1/2 C. flour. Cover with plastic wrap and set aside until bubbly and active, about 10 to 15 minutes.
In a large bowl, combine the yogurt, butter, eggs, sugar, salt, vanilla, and yeast mixture. Add the flour one cup at a time, mixing until the dough comes away cleanly from the sides of the bowl.
Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and, adding only enough flour to keep the dough from sticking to your hands or the work surface, knead about 5 minutes, until soft and pliable but not sticky.
Let the dough rest while you clean and grease the bowl.
Finish kneading the dough until it’s smooth, supple, and springy.
Place the dough in a greased bowl, turn to coat all surfaces, cover with plastic wrap and a clean towel, and let sit in a warm place for about 1 1/2 hours, or until doubled.
Gently deflate the dough and divide it in half. Cover with plastic wrap and let rest on a lightly floured surface for 15 minutes. Form the dough into desired shapes (see options below).
Cover with plastic wrap and let rise about 45 minutes. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Brush the loaves with egg wash and bake until golden brown, about 30 to 40 minutes, to an internal temperature of 190 degrees. Remove the bread from the oven, and let it cool on a rack.
Yield: 2 loaves.
For monkey bread
Slice dough into 1-inch strips. Cut strips into 1-inch pieces. Roll each piece into a ball on your working surface with the palm of your hand. Roll each ball in sugar and cinnamon and place all balls into a loaf pan. Bake as directed.
For cinnamon rolls
Roll dough into a 10- by 15-inch rectangle. Cover with cinnamon filling ó not quite to the edge ó to that edges will stick when you roll it up.
Start at long edge and roll loosely. Use dental floss to cut neatly. Slide it under the dough roll, pull ends of floss upwards and cross atop the dough to cut.
Cinnamon filling
Place 1 C. brown sugar, 3/4 C. butter and a touch of water in a saucepan. Warm. Add about a tablespoon of corn syrup and pour mixture into bottom of baking pan. Place cinnamon rolls, sides touching, atop mixture in baking pan. Cover with plastic and let rise second time. Bake at 375 degrees for 30 to 35 minutes.
For braid
Roll dough into 10- by 15-inch rectangle. Lightly score dough longways into three sections. On outer two sections, cut dough into 1-inch wide diagonal lines, leaving them connected to center section. Place desired filling in center section. Wrap strips from outer sections across center section, alternating sides. Bake about 40 minutes in 375-degree oven.