Homemade Cinnamon Swirl Bread
Welcome back to my 2015 recipe for homemade cinnamon swirl bread! I’m republishing this post with updated pictures and instructions.
I’ve adored this bread for the past 3 years, but always knew the assembly had room for improvement. As I prepared another loaf the other week, I attempted a different approach to rolling up the dough. Instead of shaping the dough into a thick 9-inch square, I shaped it into a thin 18x9-inch rectangle. Spread the cinnamon sugar on top and tightly rolled it end to end. This method produced more swirls in each slice. The loaf also rose taller as it baked. I couldn’t believe the BIG difference this SMALL change made and knew you’d find it interesting (and delish!!) too.
(And, coincidentally, I’m in Kansas this week on a “Wheat to Bread” tour with Red Star Yeast, a cherished company I’ve been working with for almost 6 years. I’ll share more about the fun trip in a separate blog post soon!)
So here I am with the same trusted cinnamon swirl bread recipe with updated step-by-step photos and easier-to-follow instructions. Let’s do this.
Make your dough. It all begins with yeast, sugar, water, milk, butter, bread flour, and salt. The thing about homemade bread is that the ingredients are SO basic, but throw the word “yeast” in there and many feel intimidated. I promise promise promise it’s not difficult to throw this dough together. As long as you give the yeast, sugar, water, and milk a few minutes to sit before adding the other ingredients, you’re on the right track!
Bread flour is our secret sauce. All-purpose flour doesn’t have enough strength to support the rise and structure of the bread. Bread flour is sold right next to the all-purpose flour in the baking aisle and if you need some recipe inspiration with your leftover bread flour, try any of these recipes!
The dough rises twice.
The first rise is right after all the dough ingredients are mixed together. Allow it to rise for about 2 hours, punch it down, then roll it out into the 18x9-inch rectangle we discussed above. Sprinkle the dough with a blend of cinnamon and sugar, then roll it up tightly. There were raisins in the original recipe, but I was out of them when I made it recently. The cinnamon swirl bread is obviously DYNAMITE with raisins. You know I’ll always encourage more raisins in your life, so they’re included in the recipe below.
Below are 6 step-by-step photos. (1) The ball of dough. (2) The dough after the 1st rise. (3) The dough rolled out into the 9x18-inch rectangle. (4) Rolling up the dough into a loaf. (5) The loaf ready to rise. This will be the 2nd rise. (6) The dough after the 2nd rise.
After the dough is tightly rolled up, place it into your loaf pan and wait for the dough to rise above the edge. This takes about 45 minutes. Brush with melted butter, then bake.
All done! The baked loaf is massive!
I still can’t decide which is best:
- The smell of homemade cinnamon swirl bread baking.
- The buttery, fluffy interior.
- The hypnotizing, gooey, sticky, delectable cinnamon swirl.
But there’s no need to choose when we can have it all. Your family, friends, guests, and anyone with tastebuds will surely be impressed. And you can pat yourself on the back because congratulations, you’re a bread baker with the simplest homemade cinnamon bread recipe in the world.
If you've already tried this bread recipe, I would love to hear how this new assembly works for you! And if you haven't tried this bread recipe yet, now's the time. You can do it!
Homemade Cinnamon Swirl Bread
- 2 and 1/4 teaspoons (1 standard package) active dry or instant yeast
- 1/2 cup (100g) granulated sugar, divided
- 1/2 cup (120ml) water
- 1/2 cup (120ml) whole milk
- 5 Tablespoons (72g) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature and divided
- 3 cups (390g) bread flour (plus more for your hands and work surface) (spoon & leveled)
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 1/2 cup (75g) raisins (optional)
- Whisk the yeast and 1/4 cup of granulated sugar together in a large bowl or in the bowl of your stand mixer.
- Heat the water and milk together on the stove or in the microwave until warm to touch, about 110°F (43°C). Pour over the yeast/sugar and whisk until combined. Cover loosely and let sit for 5-10 minutes or until the mixture is frothy.
- With a wooden spoon, rubber spatula, or the dough hook attachment on low speed, beat in 4 Tablespoons of butter until it’s slightly broken up. Add 2 and 1/2 cups bread flour and the salt. Mix on medium-low speed, then add enough bread flour (usually around 1/2 cup) to make a soft dough that no longer sticks to the sides of the bowl. Knead by hand or with the mixer on medium speed for 5 minutes until the dough is smooth but still slightly soft. Smooth into a ball and place into a lightly greased bowl. (I just use the same bowl. I take the dough out, spray with nonstick spray or grease with butter, then put the ball of dough back in.) Turn the dough to coat all sides. Cover tightly with plastic wrap or aluminum foil and place in a slightly warm environment to rise until doubled in size, around 1 and 1/2 - 2 hours. For this warm spot, I suggest using the oven. Preheat to 200°F (93°C), then turn the oven off after preheating. Place the covered bowl inside and shut the oven door. This is your warm environment.
- Grease a 9x5-inch loaf pan with butter or spray with nonstick spray. In a small bowl, toss remaining 1/4 cup sugar, the cinnamon, and raisins (if using) together. Set aside.
- Punch down the dough to release the air. Place dough on a lightly floured work surface and with a floured rolling pin, shape into a 9x18-inch rectangle. Sprinkle the cinnamon sugar mixture on top, leaving a 1-inch border around the sides. Roll the dough up very tightly into a 9-inch log. Pinch the ends to seal. Place into prepared loaf pan bottom seam side down. Cover loosely and allow to rise in a warm environment until the dough rises to the top of the pan, about 45 minutes - 1 hour.
- Adjust the oven rack to the lower third position then preheat oven to 350°F (177°C). Melt the remaining 1 Tablespoon of butter and gently brush the top of the loaf. Bake until golden brown and, when gently tapped, the top of the loaf sounds hollow, about 35-45 minutes. If you find the top of the loaf is browning too quickly as it bakes, tent with aluminum foil. Remove from the oven and place on a wire rack. Cool for 10 minutes in the pan, then remove from the pan and cool loaf completely on the wire rack.
- Slice and serve. Cover and store leftovers at room temperature for 5 days or in the refrigerator for up to 1 week. Bread tastes delicious when toasted in the toaster!
- Whole milk or 2% milk are best. I don’t suggest a lower fat milk. Readers have used nondairy milks with success, but I haven’t personally tested it.
- I always use Red Star Platinum yeast, an instant yeast. If using active dry yeast, the rise times could be slightly longer.
- Higher protein flour like bread flour is best for this bread recipe because of its strong gluten formation and high rise. All-purpose flour will yield a flimsy bread.
- If you do not have a stand mixer fitted with a hook attachment, you can mix the ingredients together with a wooden spoon or rubber spatula, then knead the dough by hand as directed in step 3.
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