Cinnamon Swirl Bread

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I love a good slice of homemade white bread slathered with butter, sprinkled with cinnamon sugar and broiled until golden and toasty, but this week I was in the mood to try for something more.  That called for a loaf of classic, old fashioned cinnamon swirl bread.  If you are a fan or reader of Cook's Illustrated, you will know that they recently published a new method for cinnamon swirl bread that helps eliminate those gaps between the dough and the swirl.  It is a good recipe based on a traditional Russian bread, but it is a bit more involved and well... I think it is important that we all have a recipe for the classic swirl in our recipe cache.

For this bread, I use my standard white bread recipe and enrich it with egg, more butter, and more sugar.  With these additions, I must reduce the amount of water to prevent the dough from being too slack.  For the filling, I use a combination of confectioners' sugar, brown sugar and ground cinnamon.  I use lots of ground cinnamon because, after all, this is cinnamon swirl bread. 

Now, about those annoying gaps-- they are usually caused by the fact that the cinnamon sugar has no way to cling to the dough itself.  To help eliminate that, I use a milk and vanilla extract mixture.   I brush half of the mixture on the dough before I sprinkle it with the cinnamon sugar.  Then as I roll the dough, I brush the remaining half of the mixture on the bottom side of the roll.  That way the cinnamon sugar sticks to both sides.

The hardest part about making this bread is waiting.  Waiting for it to cool. And this, my friends, is where I break that cardinal rule of baking bread.  You know, the one that says to let the bread cool completely on a wire rack before slicing? Throw that one out the window this time and allow the bread to cool until it is just warm.  Then cut a slice (or two☺) and give it a good pat of butter that will immediately begin to melt.  Buttery, doughy, cinnamony (that's not a word) goodness I tell ya!  Once you have had your fill of the warm stuff, toast a piece the next day and schmear it with a little cream cheese frosting.  Naughty, but sooo very nice.
Printable Recipe

Cinnamon Swirl Bread
makes one 8 1/2 inch by 4 1/2 inch loaf

For the Dough
3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour, plus additional as needed
2 teaspoons instant yeast or 2 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast (.25 ounce packet)
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1/3 cup white granulated sugar
4 Tablespoons (2 ounces) unsalted butter, melted
1/4 cup nonfat dry milk
1/4 cup potato flour (I use Bob's Red Mill)
1 cup lukewarm water
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 extra large egg

For the Filling
3 Tablespoons light brown sugar
3 Tablespoons confectioners' sugar
2 Tablespoons ground cinnamon
2 Tablespoons milk
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

For the egg wash
1 egg
1 Tablespoon milk

Combine the flour, yeast, salt, sugar, butter, dry milk, potato flour, water, vanilla and egg in the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the dough hook and knead until smooth and elastic, about 5-7 minutes.  You can also make this by hand or in a bread machine.  Adjust the dough's consistency with additional flour as needed but remember, the more flour you add, the heavier and drier your bread will be.  Transfer the dough to a lightly floured work surface and shape into a ball.  Lightly spray the inside of a large bowl with non-stick cooking spray.  Place the dough in the bowl and loosely cover with a kitchen towel or plastic wrap and place in a draft-free space to rise until doubled in size, about 1 to 1 1/2 hours.

Gently press down the dough to release the gas bubbles. Transfer the dough to a lightly floured work surface.  Shape the dough into an 8 inch by 18 inch rectangle; short side facing you.  In a small bowl, combine the sugars and cinnamon.  In a separate small bowl, combine the milk and vanilla.  Brush the dough with half of the milk mixture.  Sprinkle the cinnamon sugar mixture evenly over the dough leaving a 1/2 inch border at the opposite short end.  With the short side facing you, tuck and roll the dough, brushing the bottom side of the roll with the remaining milk mixture as you turn.  Pinch the end seam together and place the dough in an 8 1/2 inch by 4 1/2 inch loaf pan that is lightly greased.  Cover the dough with a sheet of plastic wrap lightly sprayed with non-stick spray and place in a warm draft-free space.  Allow the dough to rise until it is 1 inch above the rim of the pan, about 1 hour.

Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 350° F.  In a small bowl, whisk together the egg and milk for the egg wash.  Brush the top of the dough with the egg wash.  Bake for 35-40 minutes or until the top is golden brown.  Tent lightly with aluminum foil for the last 10 minutes if the top appears to be browning too quickly.  Remove the bread from the pan and allow to cool on a wire rack.  Enjoy!

Source: The Galley Gourmet


  1. I've been meaning to try this type of bread for a while. I love it!

  2. AnonymousJune 05, 2012

    Looks yummy! I would have to add raisins for my son, it's his favorite:)


  3. I love cinnamon swirl bread. This doesn't look like it's too complicated to make, either! I can't wait to try it out!

  4. Oh this looks absolutely delicious! I can't wait to try it... thank you!!

  5. A gorgeous, perfect loaf!

  6. WOW! I made this today and it was so easy! My son has a life threatening dairy allergy, so I had to alter it a little. I substituted the dry milk for dairy free buttermilk, and I am thinking that might be the reason why it took longer to rise (about double your calculation). But it was such a joy to make, and the resulting loaf is moist, airy, cinnamony, and absolutely delicious. It seriously tastes like I bought it from the baker. I am so excited to have this bread as part of my arsenal.

    Thank you!


    1. I am so please you enjoyed and thank you for sharing your allergy free substitution!

    2. Oh my pleasure! Instead of the 1/4 c. dry milk, I used 1/2 cup soy milk with 1/2 tbs white vinegar as my buttermilk. Because I had 1/2 c of liquid, I cut down the water to 1/4 cup.

      I have to tell you that I made french toast this morning (it was fantastic), and my family is already asking when I'm going to make another loaf!

    3. I am so pleased you enjoyed it! Thank you for sharing your allergy based adaptations. It does make an excellent french toast☺.

  7. Looks great! I've been making cinnamon swirl bread and I have been having the problem of the swirl separating. Is there a reason that the bread must be enriched, or can I use any bread recipe and your filling, and still get the swirl to stick?

    1. It is enriched for flavor. You can try this technique with another bread recipe.

  8. I have been a kids' cooking instructor and teacher for more than 35 years. I show month to month classes in Westlake Village, California for youngsters, teenagers and their folks.bread machines


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