Bread of the Month: Loafing with streusel and scones

Sometimes I wonder why it takes me so long to get to things. Like recipes. Like a Cinnamon Scone Bread recipe, in particular, which I first saw back in 2014 on the Food52 website, and at that moment declared, “Oooo, I gotta make that!” Just how long could one deny oneself layers of scones sandwiched with streusel? Each year from that point on, I had it on my roster of breads to do. And yet, other breads — scones, biscuits, loaves, rolls — came and went and no Cinnamon Scone Bread.

That was until a recent Sunday morning, a free morning I had assigned, at last, to Cinnamon Scone Bread. No longer on the back burner or the bun warmer or whatever bread list I made, scratched down in notebooks or sent to myself via text. A morning at last for scone bread, a very clever and enticing creation where scones are “stacked” on their sides, lengthwise in a loaf pan and, in this case, also layered with a streusel filling.

I knew the loaf would be good, just knew it, which makes my delay in making it so maddening. Still, there is such a thing as divine timing. At this alignment of getting to the Cinnamon Scone Bread, it had been several months since I had even made scones and several weeks since I’d made bread, so I was more than ready. My attitude was very right. It was perfect timing, too, since it was National Biscuit Month, and scones being a merry cousin, would serve as proper ambassadors in a baking project.

What I have not shared much here is my deep love of streusel. When sweets are presented, I’ll pick the streusel among them any day, be it on a crumb donut or a coffeecake. I’m always a pushover for that crumbly sweetness of brown sugar blessed with a heavy dose of cinnamon. The streusel for the Cinnamon Scone Bread is an easy blending of flour, white and brown sugars, cinnamon and cream (I also added a pinch of salt). I also opted for adding a little espresso powder. Tasting the streusel, I hoped the coffee wouldn’t be too competitive with the cinnamon.

The scone dough is first assembled by mixing the dry ingredients with the butter in the food processor. One could do this by hand, too, but sometimes the machine offers a lighter touch, keeping the butter cold, with some of those ideal larger pieces that result in flakier scones.

Currants or, in my case, raisins are tossed with cinnamon, then blended in with the flour/butter mixture.

An egg and vanilla are beaten into a cup of cream, then blended into the flour mixture, just until a soft sough starts to come together.

The dough is kneaded a bit in the bowl (a bowl scraper does come in handy here). Then turned out onto a generously floured board or work surface.

The dough is patted into a long rectangle, about 6” by 14”.

The long rectangle is then divided into 12 more rectangles.

Half of the rectangles are brushed with cream and sprinkled with streusel. An un-streuseled rectangle is placed on top of each of those and the top of each of those is brushed with cream and sprinkled with more of the streusel. So I had six stacks of two, if that makes sense.

I took each stack of two and placed it, cut side down, in my greased loaf pan (also lined with parchment paper). Once these little scone “sandwiches” are all in place (they will fill the pan and kind of be squeezed together), more cream is brushed on top and sprinkled with a little coarse sugar.

This dreamy loaf, perfect for fall, fills the house with the best biscuit/scone/cinnamon roll/coffeecake smell. I took the recipe creator’s advice of tenting the loaf with foil during the last 10 minutes to keep it from over-browning.

I can say that I’m glad I lived long enough and got my priorities right enough to make this delicious bread, which is like a pull-apart loaf of streusel meeting scone and ending up being something of its own. I loved this streusel, which was subtly enhanced with the espresso, so the cinnamon did take center stage. The loaf itself was buttery and flaky, light but dense enough to withstand a good dollop of butter (as it should be!). Maybe I waited so long because from now on, Cinnamon Scone Bread will happen again — and often.

Cinnamon Scone Bread
From Food52 (www.food52.com)
Makes 1 loaf

For the streusel filling:
4 tablespoons all-purpose flour
4 tablespoons granulated sugar
4 tablespoons brown sugar
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 tablespoon heavy cream

For the bread:
2 1/2 cups (11 1/4 ounces) all-purpose unbleached flour
1/4 cup granulated sugar, plus more for sprinkling on top of loaf
1 tablespoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoons kosher salt
6 tablespoons chilled unsalted butter, cut into cubes
1/2 cup currants
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon, cocoa powder, or espresso powder
1 cup heavy cream, plus more for brushing on dough
1 large egg
1 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

For the streusel: Mix together the flour, granulated sugar, brown
sugar, and cinnamon. Stir in the cream to make a streusel. This is not
a chunky streusel. It’s more of a sugary blend. Set aside.

For the bread: Preheat oven to 375° F. Grease a parchment-lined 9 x 5
inch loaf pan.

Place the dry ingredients in the bowl of a food processor fitted with
the chopping blade and pulse to combine.

Add the butter and pulse about 8 or so times. You want to retain some
small pieces of butter. Don’t blitz the heck out of it. Transfer the flour
mixture to a large mixing bowl. If you’ve got some really large butter
lumps, just squish them with the back of a fork.

In a small bowl, mix the currants with the cinnamon. Add to the flour
butter mixture, and toss lightly.

In a large measuring cup, place the heavy cream, egg, and vanilla. Mix
well. Pour into flour mixture. With a dinner fork, fold the wet
ingredients into the dry as you gradually turn the bowl. It’s a folding
motion you’re shooting for, not a stirring motion. When dough begins
to gather, use a plastic bowl scraper to gently knead the dough into a
ball shape. If there is still a lot of loose flour in the bottom of the bowl,
drizzle in a bit more cream, a teaspoon at a time, until the dough
comes together.

Transfer the dough ball to a generously floured board. Pat dough into
a 6- by 14-inch rectangle.

Now the fun part. Please refer to the above photos for reference. Cut
the rectangle into 12 equal pieces. Brush with cream. Sprinkle
streusel on 6 pieces. Flip a non-streuseled piece onto a streuseled
piece and continue to build the layers. It’s easiest to transfer the
layers to the pan in sections. Lay them in the pan, like a sideways
lasagna. Continue layering until fully assembled. Brush top with
cream and sprinkle with sugar.

Bake on the center rack for about 50 minutes. For the last 10 minutes,
I cover my loaf with aluminum foil, as I don’t want the top to scorch.
Loaf is done when a cake tester comes out clean. Make sure to poke
it into a cake layer and not a streusel layer.

Let cool 15 minutes. I like this bread best served warm. Either rip the
bread apart with your hands or cut slices long-ways to see the pretty
striations of streusel.

Alternatively, if the sideways lasagna technique is too fussy for you,
build your scone bread in the pan one large layer at a time, like a
traditional lasagna. So instead of 12 pieces, cut your rectangle of
dough into 6 pieces, and proceed with the layering.

Blogger’s Note: I added a pinch of salt and 1/2 teaspoon espresso
powder to the streusel.

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