Spring Recipe: Cinnamon, Walnuts & Gou Qi Zi Bread

Try this delicious new twist on an old breakfast favorite! We’ve substituted Gou Qi Zi berries for raisins and added walnuts to a traditional cinnamon bread. According to Chinese medicine, Rou Gui/Cinnamon bark warms and tonifies Kidney, Heart and Spleen Yang, warms and unblocks the channels and vessels, and encourages the generation of Qi and Blood. Hu Tao Ren/walnuts warm and tonify the Lungs and Kidneys, strengthen the back and knees, help the Kidneys grasp the Qi, as well as moistening the intestines and unblocking the bowels. Gou Qi Zi/Gou ji berries nourish and tonify the Liver, Kidneys and Lungs, nourish Yin and Blood, benefit the Jing-essence and brighten the eyes.

Makes 3 loaves.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 1/2 cups milk (or non-dairy substitute)
  • 2 packages (1/4 ounce) active dry yeast
  • 1 cup warm water (must be between 110-115 degrees for the yeast)
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 1/4 cup sugar divided (raw or coconut sugar)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened for dough
  • 1 cup Gou Qi Zi/Wolfberries
  • 3/4 cup chopped Hu Tao Ren/Walnuts
  • 8 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons milk to moisten dough (or non-dairy substitute)
  • 3 tablespoons ground Rou Gui/Cinnamon bark
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted to brush on top

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Warm the milk in a small sauce pan on the stove until it just starts to bubble, stirring occasionally, then remove from heat. Let cool until lukewarm.
  2. Dissolve yeast in warm water (must be between 110-115 degrees or the yeast won't activate) and set aside until yeast is frothy, about 10 minutes or so. Then mix in eggs, ½ cup sugar, butter, salt, walnuts and Gou Qi Zi berries. Stir in the cooled milk slowly so you don't cook the eggs. Add the flour gradually to make a stiff dough.
  3. Knead the dough on a lightly floured surface for a few minutes until smooth. Place in a large buttered mixing bowl and turn to grease the surface of the dough. Cover with a warm, damp cloth and let rise in a warm area. (Try putting it in the oven with just the light on for the right amount of heat and to keep the dough out of drafts.) Allow to rise until doubled, usually about 1 1/2 hours.
  4. Roll out on a lightly floured surface into a large rectangle 1/2 inch thick. Moisten the dough with 2 tablespoons milk and rub all over the dough with your hands. Then mix together ¾ cup sugar and the cinnamon and sprinkle mixture evenly on top of the moistened dough.
  5. Roll up tightly (the long way). The roll should be about 3 inches in diameter. Cut into thirds, and tuck under ends and pinch bottom together. Place loaves into well greased (coconut oil or butter) 9 x 5 inch pans and lightly grease tops of loaves. Let rise again in a warm area uncovered for about an hour.
  6. Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes or until loaves are lightly browned and sound hollow when tapped. Remove from oven and brush with melted butter. Let them cool on a rack for about 20 minutes, then lay loaves on their sides and remove from pans. Allow to cool before slicing.
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