Cinnamon Crunch Bread

Rolled and twisted, this simple 8 ingredient bread dough transforms into an absolutely irresistible cinnamon crunch bread. Roll the dough up with a butter, cinnamon, and brown sugar filling, then create a crunch topping made from the same ingredients. Each bite is buttery, soft, and flaky with an unbelievable cinnamon sugar crunch crust on top.

cinnamon crunch bread

When I made my first successful loaf of homemade cheese bread, I knew the recipe would be an instant hit with readers. After publishing it as a Sally’s Baking Challenge recipe few years ago, it’s consistently been the most popular bread recipe on this website– alongside our beloved sandwich bread. I mean, what could be better than cheese and homemade bread?

Well well well…

Readers asked if they can use the same dough to make a sweet version, so I tweaked the recipe and swapped cheese for cinnamon. Then I topped the whole thing with a cinnamon crunch topping. (Ever have a Panera Bread cinnamon crunch bagel? Like that!)

And then I wondered why I’d been making it with cheese for so long. TALK ABOUT AN UPGRADE!


Tell Me About This Cinnamon Crunch Bread

  • Flavor: The bread crumb is wonderfully buttery and sweet– definitely a breakfast or dessert bread. This is a lot like cinnamon swirl bread, but we’re using brown sugar and there’s extra twisting so you get more pockets of cinnamon swirl in each slice.
  • Texture: Because we have fat in the dough, the bread is extra soft and flaky. And using bread flour promises extra chew. These textures are the perfect contrast to the crunchy cinnamon crumbles on top. Each bite has something different– I know you’ll love that. It looks just like babka, but it’s not nearly as rich as, say, our apple cinnamon babka.
  • Ease: There’s no arguing that homemade bread takes a little effort. But consider this a fun weekend or afternoon baking project. The dough is pretty straightforward and you use the same ingredients in both the cinnamon swirl filling AND cinnamon crunch topping. If you’re new to baking with yeast, review my Baking with Yeast Guide. Lots of helpful information there!
  • Time: This dough requires 1 long rise, then a shorter 2nd rise. Once you understand the assembly process, the recipe moves pretty quickly. Set aside at least 4 hours from start to finish, but keep in mind most of that time is hands off as the dough rises.

slices of cinnamon crunch bread

Video Tutorial


Overview: How to Make Cinnamon Crunch Bread

The following is an overview to help you understand the process before you get started. You’ll find the full printable recipe below.

  1. Make & knead the dough. You need 8 ingredients for the dough and I don’t recommend any substitutions. For soft, flavorful, and chewy cinnamon crunch bread, use a combination of buttermilk and water. Nondairy, whole, or low fat milks work too, but buttermilk produces phenomenal flavor and texture. The dough is flimsy and shaping is difficult if you use ALL milk, so that’s why we use some milk and some water. You also need yeast, sugar, butter, egg, salt, and bread flour.
  2. Let dough rise. This takes about 1.5-2 hours.
  3. Assemble the bread. If you’re a visual learner, watch me assemble the bread in the above video. It’s exactly how we shape Nutella babka and homemade cheese bread too.
  4. Let shaped bread rest for about 30 minutes as you prepare the cinnamon crunch topping and preheat the oven. It will slightly rise during this time. For the cinnamon crunch topping, whisk brown sugar, cinnamon, melted butter and a touch of flour together.
  5. Spoon cinnamon crunch topping all over bread, then bake. In the written recipe below, I recommend placing a baking sheet on a lower oven rack to catch any cinnamon sugar that may drip down as the bread bakes.

Step-By-Step Photos

Make and knead the dough, then let it rise:

bread dough before and after rising in side-by-side photos

Punch down the risen dough, then roll out into rectangle. Spread extra soft butter on top, then sprinkle with your brown sugar and cinnamon mixture. Tightly roll it up cinnamon roll style. Place the log on its seam, then cut the log in half lengthwise using a sharp knife.

4 photos showing the shaping steps of cinnamon twisted bread

Criss-cross one half on top of the other half forming an X. Tightly twist the two together. Pinch the outer edges to seal as best you can, then place into a greased 9×5 inch loaf pan.

cinnamon twisted bread dough in loaf pan before rising

Let the dough rest and prepare the cinnamon crunch topping:

cinnamon crunchy topping on top of bread loaf before baking

Can I Use This Cinnamon Crunch Topping on Bagels?

Yes yes and yes! This cinnamon crunch topping would be awesome on homemade bagels. Double the cinnamon crunch topping to ensure you have enough for an entire batch of bagels. After brushing the bagels with the egg wash in step 9 in that recipe, spoon cinnamon crunch topping on each before baking.

cinnamon crunch swirl bread in loaf pan

slice of cinnamon swirl twisted bread

Testing the limit on “how much cinnamon swirl is too much cinnamon swirl?” Don’t pass up trying this because it’s even more ridiculously good than it looks!!

Print
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cinnamon crunch bread

Cinnamon Crunch Bread

  • Author: Sally
  • Prep Time: 3 hours
  • Cook Time: 50 minutes
  • Total Time: 4 hours
  • Yield: 1 loaf
  • Category: Bread
  • Method: Baking
  • Cuisine: American

Description

This is a basic soft bread dough that’s rolled, twisted, filled, and topped with butter, cinnamon, and brown sugar. It looks like a lot of ingredients but the filling and topping ingredients are mostly the same. Read the recipe before starting so you’re prepared for the rolling and twisting step.


Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup (120ml) buttermilk, warmed to about 110°F
  • 1/3 cup (80ml) water, warmed to about 110°F
  • 2 and 1/4 teaspoons (7ginstant or active dry yeast (1 standard packet)
  • 1/4 cup (50g) granulated sugar, divided
  • 5 Tablespoons (72gunsalted butter, melted + slightly cooled
  • 1 large egg, at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3 cups (390gbread flour (spoon & leveled), plus more as needed for hands/work surface

Filling

  • 3 Tablespoons (45g) unsalted butter, extra soft
  • 1/3 cup (67g) packed light or dark brown sugar
  • 1 and 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

Cinnamon Crunch Topping

  • 2 Tablespoons (30g) unsalted butter, melted
  • 1/3 cup (67g) packed light or dark brown sugar
  • 1 and 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 2 teaspoons all-purpose flour or bread flour

Instructions

  1. Prepare the dough: Whisk the warm buttermilk, warm water, yeast, and 2 Tablespoons sugar together in the bowl of your stand mixer fitted with a dough hook or paddle attachment. Cover and allow to sit for 5 minutes or until foamy on top.
  2. Add the remaining sugar, the butter, egg, salt, and 1 cup flour. Beat on low speed for 30 seconds, scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula, then add the remaining flour. Beat on low speed until the dough comes together and pulls away from the sides of the bowl, about 2 minutes. *If you do not own a mixer, you can mix this dough with a large wooden spoon or rubber spatula. It will take a bit of arm muscle.*
  3. Knead the dough: Keep the dough in the mixer and beat on low speed for an additional 2 minutes or knead by hand on a lightly floured surface for 2 minutes.
  4. 1st Rise: Lightly grease a large bowl with oil or nonstick spray. Place the dough in the bowl, turning it to coat all sides in the oil. Cover the bowl with aluminum foil, plastic wrap, or a clean kitchen towel. Allow the dough to rise in a relatively warm environment for 1.5-2 hours or until double in size. (I always let it rise on the counter. Takes about 2 hours. For a tiny reduction in rise time, see my answer to Where Should Dough Rise? in my Baking with Yeast Guide.)
  5. Grease a 9×5 inch loaf pan.
  6. Roll out the dough: Punch down the dough to release the air. Place dough on a lightly floured work surface and with a floured rolling pin, roll the dough out into a 9×15 inch rectangle (approximately).
  7. For the filling: Spread softened butter all over the top of the dough, leaving a 1/2 inch border uncovered. The softer the butter is, the easier it is to spread in this step. (Microwave it for a few seconds to soften if needed.) Mix the brown sugar and cinnamon together, then sprinkle evenly all over the butter.
  8. Roll and twist the dough: If you need a visual, watch the above video to see exactly how I do this step. Tightly roll the dough into a 15-inch log. Place the log on its seam. Using a sharp knife, cut the log in half lengthwise. I find a serrated knife works best. Criss-cross one half on top of the other half– forming an X. Tightly twist the two together. Pinch the outer edges to seal as best you can. Place in prepared loaf pan and cover with aluminum foil, plastic wrap, or a clean kitchen towel. (This step can get a little messy!) Allow the covered loaf to rest for 30 minutes. It will slightly rise during this time.
  9. Adjust the oven rack to the lower third position. Place a baking sheet on the lower rack to catch any cinnamon/sugar that may drip down. Preheat the oven to 350°F (177°C).
  10. For the cinnamon crunch topping: Whisk the melted butter, brown sugar, cinnamon, and flour together. Spoon over loaf right before baking.
  11. Bake: Bake until golden brown and, when gently tapped, the top of the loaf sounds hollow, about 45-55 minutes. The top browns quickly as it bakes, so tent the entire loaf with aluminum foil. (I usually place foil on top after about 20 minutes.) Remove finished bread the oven and place on a wire rack. Cool for 10 minutes in the pan, then remove from the pan and cool loaf on the wire rack.
  12. Slice and serve warm or at room temperature. Cover and store leftovers at room temperature for 2 days or in the refrigerator for up to 1 week. Leftover slices taste delicious when warmed in the microwave for 10 seconds. Topping tends to lose its crunch after a day or 2.

Notes

  1. Make Ahead Instructions – Overnight: Prepare the dough through step 3. Place into a greased bowl as directed in step 4. Cover the dough tightly and place in the refrigerator for up to 15 hours. Remove from the refrigerator and allow the dough to fully rise for 1-2 more hours. Continue with step 5. I don’t recommend shaping the bread the night before as it will puff up too much overnight.
  2. Make Ahead Instructions – Freezing: Baked bread freezes wonderfully. Wrap the cooled loaf in plastic wrap, then a layer of aluminum foil. Freeze for up to 3 months. Thaw wrapped bread overnight in the refrigerator or at room temperature, then warm to your liking. You can also freeze the bread dough. After punching down the dough in step 6, wrap the dough tightly in plastic wrap, then a layer of aluminum foil. Freeze for up to 3 months. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator, then punch the dough down again to release any air bubbles. Continue with the rest of step 6.
  3. Buttermilk: Buttermilk provides the softest texture and unbeatable flavor. In a pinch, you can use whole milk instead. Lower fat or nondairy milks can work too, but the bread won’t taste as moist or rich. Here are other recipes using buttermilk if you purchase a carton and need to use it up.
  4. Yeast: I usually use instant yeast in this dough, but you can use active dry yeast instead if needed. No changes to the recipe, except the rise time will be at least 2 hours in step 4 if using active dry yeast. Reference my Baking with Yeast Guide for answers to common yeast FAQs.
  5. Bread Flour: Higher protein flour like bread flour is best for this bread recipe because of its strong gluten formation and high rise. You can use all-purpose flour instead if needed, but for absolute best taste and texture, I recommend bread flour.

Keywords: cinnamon, bread, cinnamon crunch bread

135 Comments

  1. Absolutely Amazing! Will be making again 🙂

  2. Anita Burroughs says:

    I tried the recipe after my neighbor dropped off some of the bread for us. I rue the day I tasted this bread, because now we cannot get enough of it. It is absolutely delicious.

  3. I have made this bread SO many times! My husband asked me to try it with apples, raisins and pecans. I had to bake it about 7 minutes longer, but it was AMAZING!! It’s my new weekend project…pretty much every weekend!

    1. Be still my heart! That sounds wonderful!

    2. I like your idea of adding apples, pecans and raisins. How much of each did you add?

      1. I chopped up the apple and added about half of it. I didn’t measure the pecans and raisins, I just did a sprinkle of everything over the brown sugar. I’m guessing about 1/4 cup of each.

  4. Which is the best loaf pan please?

    1. Trina @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Megan! We link to two of our favorites (USA pan and Farberware) in this blog post (number 8).

  5. Sophia Helbaum says:

    I love this bread! I made it with the cinnamon crunchie bits and I made with a regular cinnamon bread filling. Both were awesome and yes it makes wonderful French toast. The best bread I have ever had, hands down.

  6. Directory Listing says:

    Me and my wife have a dinner date tomorrow and this recipe will be an addition to our table. Thank you!

  7. You are making me hungry!! This looks sooooo good! I’m not much of a baker, but I feel like I need to try this! Pinning to save for later!!

  8. Excellent bread. I actually cut the rolled bread dough in half, rather than lengthwise and then braided it. Came out beautiful. A great buttermilk recipe.

  9. I made a couple loaves of this bread last weekend and we loved! It turned out just beautiful. We’re craving something lemony and not too sweet and wondering about trying this bread with the filling from your lemon rolls. Would that work do you think? I love your recipes!

    1. Stephanie @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Megan, We never tested that before but let us know if you give it a try!

  10. Victoria Rojas says:

    Simple, easy, and delicious.

  11. I’ve made this three times in the past week. My family loves loves loves it. I think this is their favourite thing I’ve ever made. Followed the recipe exactly except I added a teaspoon of cinnamon directly to the dough batter because I love cinnamon so much. I think this will be a weekly bake from now on. I also made the cheese version and I absolutely loved that as well tho I think this one overshadowed that one in my family’s eyes

  12. I need help, please! I made this dough once and it worked perfectly but I’m having trouble replicating those results. I’ve tried it twice this morning and both times I never got the dough to pull away from the sides of the mixer, once using the dough hook and once using the paddle attachment. I mixed it over 8 minutes with no luck. What am I doing wrong? The only difference in ingredients is the first time I used whole milk but used buttermilk today.

    1. Lexi @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Colleen! If your dough is sticking to the sides of the mixer, you might just need a bit more flour to help it come together. Feel free to add more flour, about a tablespoon at a time, until the dough starts to pull away from the mixer and form into a workable dough. That should help!

  13. Hi 🙂
    I was wondering if I could use a 4″×11″ bread pan because it’s all I have right now. If I reduce the baking time, do you think it should be alright?

    Thanks!

    1. Trina @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Alexandra, we haven’t tested that but don’t see why it would be an issue. Let us know how it goes!

  14. Well, Sally, I made this Cinnamon Crunch Bread last night for breakfast today, and as usual it was gone by tonight!
    Thank you for such a delicious recipe. Cutting and twisting the dough was kind of fun.
    I appreciate your explicit directions and photos. I’m making your quick bread version of cinnamon swirl bread for tomorrow. Let’s see how long that one lasts!!

  15. Hi Sally, any suggestions for what to do if the dough is too soft to shape? The dough doubled in size after the first rise, but when I flattened it out and went to roll it, it was very very soft/hard to handle. Watching your video, it looks like my dough should have been more sturdy. Any suggestions?

    1. Trina @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Cassidy, there are a lot of variables that go into the consistency of dough, even down to the weather and humidity in the air. There’s nothing wrong with adding just a little more flour to bring the dough into a less sticky consistency. Hope this helps!

  16. My cinnamon crunch topping just sort of melts in the oven, leaving a liquidy, sugary mess on top and burning (smelly) sugar below on the pan. Not remotely crunchy, nor does it look anything like your photo. Help?

    1. Trina @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Lauren! Did your topping mixture look like the step-by-step photos in the blog post? Make sure to let your butter cool just a bit before mixing in the other ingredients.

      1. The mixture looked like the photo of the topping in the bowl, yes, but in the oven it just liquefied, leaving the bottom tasting like burnt butterscotch. I’ll try letting it cool off more than I did last time and see if that helps, thanks! Also – does the type of flour in the topping make a difference? I’ve tried bread flour and AP but no luck. I’m hoping it’s a temperature problem; it might be, since I’ve tried this on bagels as directed but the bagels bake at a higher temperature than the bread does as well.

    2. I had the same issue it melted and burnt around the edges but stayed crunchy on top not sure why

  17. Diana smuck says:

    can this recipe be used as a sweet bread with no fillings? I’ve made both cheese and cinnamon with great results. Ty.

    1. Absolutely! And I’m sure you could shape it like sandwich bread.

  18. So so tasty!! Only issue was some of the topping fell down the sides and became hard and burnt. It was still v wry good though. Hopefully that won’t happen again next time I make it! Any advice on this??

    1. Lexi @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Ali, for next time, you can try gently pressing the topping into the top of the bread to help it stick and make it less likely to fall. So glad you enjoyed the bread!

  19. Can I make this recipe without egg? Should I substitute egg for something else?

    1. Lexi @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      We haven’t tried this recipe with any egg substitutes, but let us know if you do give any a try.

  20. Linda Johnston says:

    Thanks Sally ! Yumy Yummmmmy bread. I have a problem, however. The middle will not rise. Have tired it several times and it is always the same – flattened, non-risen layers in the middle of the loaf that causes it to create a valley between the two ends where the yeast worked well. This does not happen to any other bread I make. HELP!
    Thanks,
    Linda

    1. Hi Linda, when you place the shaped/twisted loaf in the loaf pan, are the ends particularly thicker/taller? If so, that could be preventing the center from rising evenly. See if when you’re twisting/shaping the loaf if you can work it into a more uniform height or flatten down the ends so it’s all even. Doesn’t have to be pretty.

  21. This is dangerously good. It was so fun to make and came out perfectly. I never doubt your recipes, but they exceed my expectations every time. Such a good recipe, Sally.

  22. So this braided bread is similar to the pumpkin pie knots we made and is the same basic bread recipe as this bread that we LOVE so much.

  23. Towing Grand Junction says:

    I tried your recipe. And I absolutely loved it! Thanks for sharing

  24. Hi sally! Can I use all purpose flour instead of bread flour?

    1. Stephanie @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Mahnoor, You can use all-purpose flour if needed, but for absolute best taste and texture, we recommend bread flour. See recipe notes for details.

  25. I love this bread! I was wondering if anything has made mini loaves with this recipe – maybe making 4 small loaves with this recipe?

    I want to try, but looking to see if anyone has any advice on this.

    1. Trina @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Lisa! For mini loaves, we’re unsure because it depends on the exact dimensions of the pans and how much dough you squeeze inside each. Keep a close eye on them and tent with foil if the tops are browning quickly. Enjoy!

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