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Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Wednesday Spotlight: Ginger Hanson

Ellie’s Cinnamon Swirl Bread
Ginger Hanson

Yet another confession. I used to make bread all the time and loved the smell and feel of working the dough. That love of baking became an important component of Ellie’s Song. The heroine, Ellie Kellson, deals with stress by making cinnamon bread. I loved a recent review in which the reviewer mentions how you’ll be hungry for cinnamon bread after reading the story.

As I mentioned earlier this week, the bread also had an impact on one of my early readers. She said she remembered feeling as if she could smell the bread when she read the scenes. I really appreciated her compliment. I had attained what every writer strives for and put the reader into the scene.

The original cinnamon bread recipe came from a long-ago woman’s magazine. While I doubted if anyone would know the source of the recipe, it truly wasn’t mine. When my editor suggested we put the recipe in the back of the book, I decided to tweak the recipe into belonging to Ellie. Imagine my delight to discover my editor had a background in the culinary arts. Plus, my Tai Chi instructor loves to cook.

Their suggestions were implemented in various loaves of bread. When I asked my Tai Chi class to serve as taste testers, they gamely stepped forward. Ellie’s bread went through several versions before we settled on the recipe. Since fewer people (including myself) make bread from scratch, I made bread the old-fashioned way as well as with a bread maker. I hope you enjoy Ellie’s Cinnamon Swirl Bread, I know we did.

Ellie’s Cinnamon Swirl Bread

3 - 3 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 tablespoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon cardamom
2 1/4 teaspoons yeast
1 tablespoon gluten
1 cup milk
1/8 cup sugar
3 tablespoons softened butter
3/4 teaspoon salt
2 eggs

Cinnamon spread:
1/2 cup sugar mixed with 1 TBL cinnamon and 1 tsp cardamom
2 TBL softened butter

In a large bowl combine 1 cup of flour, cinnamon, cardamom, yeast and gluten. Heat the milk, sugar, butter and salt until warm (115 to 125°). Add warm milk mixture to dry ingredients, whisk smooth. Scrape the bowl. Add the eggs and 1 cup of flour; beat at medium speed for 2 minutes. Add remaining flour to make a stiff dough. Turn out the dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic. Add flour as needed to prevent dough from sticking.

Shape dough into a ball and placed in a greased bowl. Turn once to bring greased side up. Cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled in size, about 1 hour.

Punch the dough down, turn out onto a lightly floured surface and divide in half. Cover and let rest for 10 minutes. Grease two loaf pans. Combine 1/2 cup sugar, 1 TBL cinnamon and 1 tsp cardamom.

On the lightly floured surface, roll out one portion of the dough to a 14 x 7-inch rectangle. Brush the entire surface with softened butter and sprinkle half of the cinnamon and sugar mixture over the rectangle. Roll up the dough, tucking ends under to seal. Place in a greased loaf pan.

Repeat with remaining dough. Cover and let rise in a warm place until double in size, about 35 to 45 minutes. With a sharp knife, make several slashes across each loaf. Brush with 1 1/2 tablespoons melted butter. Bake in a preheated 350° oven for 30 to 35 minutes or until done. Brush with remaining melted butter, cool five minutes in pan and then remove and cool on rack. Makes two loaves.

Noted by RT Book Reviews for her “fast-paced, rich in detail” writing, Ginger Hanson writes contemporary and historical romance novels. Her contemporary series, set in the fictional small town of Tassanoxie, Alabama, is published by The Wild Rose Press. Feather’s Last Dance (2010) and Ellie’s Song (2011) established the series. The third story in the series, A Christmas Diamond for Merry (short story, ebook only) will be released in December 2011 and a novella ebook is pending.

Lady Runaway, Ginger’s historical Regency adventure romance, was published in 2009 by Twilight Times Press. Her two earlier Civil War adventure romances were published in 2004. Visit Ginger at


Maureen said...

I have to try your bread. I do like making bread but it is hard to find the time to do it.
mce1011 AT aol DOT com

Ginger Hanson said...

You're right, Maureen which is why I started using a bread machine. Just dump in the ingredients and a few hours later, you have bread.

When my first machine broke, I found out that not all bread machines are created equal. I use the kind that heats the water to make the yeast rise, not the kind that requires you to put in water of the right temp to ensure the yeast rises!


Jennie Fiumefreddo said...

I think a nice plate of warm bread,a mug of hot cider and a great book like Ellie's Song make the fall season. Fall is my favorite time of year. Its a time before all the speed of holidays that gives us permission to slow down and take in crisp air,good friends and of course sharing cinnamon bread with the people we love.

Ginger Hanson said...

Thank you, Jennie, for the compliment on Ellie's Song! And I think fall is my favorite time, too. The shorter days and cooler nights are a welcome change from the heat of summer.

coastie_jo said...

It's nice to see a heroine still in touch with some traditional skills such as baking and sewing. We tend to get too caught up in all our modern conveniences.

wanda f said...

That was a very tasty post :) gonna be trying that recipe .