Step 1: Heat homemade chicken nuggets you proudly stashed in the freezer during a rare afternoon of feeling on top of things.
Step 2: Lure toddler into high chair with promises of Tupperware containers and wooden spoons for toys.
Step 3: Place nuggets on high chair tray. Lovingly encourage toddler to eat via a sing-songy jingle about the wonders of free-range chicken.
Step 4: Duck as chicken chunk flies by your head. Grab napkin to wipe off the one that landed in your hair. Fail to notice the one that hit your cleavage and rolled down into your bra.
Step 5: Smile and breathe. Sample a nugget to demonstrate how yummy they are, complete with exaggerated chewing and swallowing sounds. Spend the next 5 minutes deflecting toddler’s attempts to feed nuggets to you, since you did such a good job showing how much you love them.
Step 6: Attempt feeding him carrots instead. Repeat steps 3 to 5. Do the same with scrambled eggs, broccoli, oatmeal, cheese, and pasta.
Step 7: Call Mom. Casually ask how her feeding attempts went when she watched him last week. Mask resentment as she runs down the list of things he happily ate at her house, agreeing that he’s such a hearty eater. Hang up.
Step 8: Release toddler from chair with a handful of Goldfish crackers. Curse the voice in your head that swore you’d never feed your kid processed foods, let alone run around the house with said processed food in-hand.
Step 9: Try to remember what foods you couldn’t resist as a kid. Drift into a daydream of cinnamon toast slathered in butter.
Step 10: Scour kitchen for flour, yeast, and cinnamon. Wing it for the rest.
Step 11: Put toddler down for nap and throw dough ingredients into mixer. Set aside for rising. Take shower. Discover chicken nugget in your bra.
Step 12: Prepare dough for baking and pop into oven just as toddler is waking up. Build Megabloks towers for toddler to destroy until bread is done.
Step 13: Casually hand toddler bread slice as he plays with Batman cars. Promise yourself you won’t care if he doesn’t eat it.
Step 14: Brush off your excitement as he inhales bread, then points to loaf demanding more.
Step 15: Do private victory dance when toddler isn’t looking.
Step 16: Call Mom. Tell her again how right she is. This kid can really eat.
Simple Whole Wheat Cinnamon Swirl Bread
Note: I promise, this is not an instance of “gee whiz, look at the fancy things I find time to whip up, even with kids!” gloating. It’s honestly very easy. It’s a perfect naptime emergency dish, especially if you have a stand mixer. It takes about 20 minutes to do the dough prepping. The rest is literally just setting it aside to rise.
For the bread:
2 ¼ teaspoons active dry yeast
¼ teaspoon brown sugar
1 ½ cups warm water (110 degrees F)
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons olive oil
3 cups whole wheat flour
¼ cup honey
1 large egg; beaten
For the filling:
½ stick unsalted butter, melted
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
2 tablespoons packed brown sugar
In a large bowl, dissolve the yeast and brown sugar in warm water. Let sit for 10 minutes. Mix in the salt, oil, and honey. Add two cups of flour and mix in an electric mixer with the dough hook attachment. If you’re kneading by hand, turn the dough onto a well-floured surface. Keep adding the third cup of flour until the dough is smooth and no longer sticky.
Form the dough into a ball and place in a well oiled bowl. Cover with a towel and let rise until double; about 1 hour. If you’re using a stand mixer, you can do every step in one bowl. Even leave it to rise in the same bowl. Just drizzle some oil over the dough, turn in around in the bowl so it all gets coated, cover to keep warm, and leave it there.
Once your dough rises, generously butter a loaf pan and set it aside.
Make your filling by combining the melted butter, cinnamon, and sugar to create a paste.
On a flat surface, stretch out the dough into a long rectangle. You can pull and stretch with your hands; no need for a rolling pin. Aim to keep the rectangle width roughly the same as your loaf pan’s length (9 inches for a standard pan).
Smear an even layer of filling over the outstretched dough. Then starting at a narrow end of the rectangle, tightly roll the dough until you have a loaf. Place the loaf, seam-side down, into the buttered pan.
Let the loaf rise in the pan for about 30 minutes, then brush an even coat of egg all over the top.
Bake in a preheated, 400-degree oven for 40 minutes on the middle rack. Remove from the pan to cool.