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

138 Comments

  1. what other spices could be used?

    1. Hi Emily, I bet this would be great with a chai spice blend, such as the spices used in these chai cupcakes.

  2. Can I add walnuts or pecan to this?

    1. I can’t see why not! To the filling or to the dough itself.

  3. Sally, is there a particular reason that you use unsalted butter? Could regular salted butter be used if the salt is omitted in the ingredient list?
    Anxious to try this yummy bread!!

    1. Hi Kim! I prefer to use unsalted butter in most of my baking so I can control the amount of salt. If you’re interested, see this Salted Vs Unsalted Butter in Baking article I wrote. If you use salted butter instead, I would not reduce the salt by much– maybe down to 3/4 teaspoon in the dough.

  4. Could I use powdered buttermilk?

    1. Absolutely! Use enough powdered buttermilk to make 1/2 cup liquid (sometimes it varies by brand).

  5. Thanks. I’m going to try it. Can a lemon or vinegar “buttermilk” substitute be used?

    1. Definitely. However, you can just use whatever milk you have on hand since an added acid isn’t imperative. Use whole milk if you have it.

  6. A comment to Angel above about yeast — I keep my yeast in the refrigerator because I use a lot of it, but you can keep it in the freezer and use it straight from the freezer, too. So don’t throw out good yeast! 😉

  7. Can you use 00 flour in place of bread flour?

    1. Hi Marcee, I haven’t tested it but that shouldn’t be a problem.

  8. Hi Sally
    I followed the recipe abs used the 1 1/2 tsp for the filling. Should it be Tbsp? My filling wasn’t as dark?? It’s in the oven now – everyone is very excited and the smell is fabulous!! Thanks!

    1. Hi Janet, yes the amounts are correct. Are you using brown sugar? The topping is much darker since you’re mixing it with melted butter.

  9. So, so much better than Panera’s bagel by the same name, Sally’s Cinnamon Crunch Bread is just the right combination of sweetness, butter, sugar, and cinnamon in a soft almost roll-ljke bread.

    This one’s a keeper, for sure!

  10. Hi Sally! If we substitute all purpose flour for the bread flour, should we still use 400 grams or adjust it down to the usual weight (375 grams) in your recipes for 3 cups of all purpose flour? Thank you in advance!

    1. Hi Veronica! Use the same weight. You can start at 375g, but you’ll likely find the dough a bit too sticky.

  11. I took couple hours away from my busy day and I just had to make this bread. I love cinnamon baked goods. This turned out so delicious. It was like a giant cinnamon roll in a loaf pan. So so good. I made exactly according to the recipe. Definitely a keeper!! Thanks Sally! 🙂

  12. I made this last night and it was great! I just had some for breakfast this morning. I will warm my next piece in the microwave like you suggested. I have been following your blog for years and I love all of your recipes. My cookie are legendary because of you. I want to thank you for sharing your recipes.

    1. Lexi @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Thank you so much for the kind and thoughtful comment, Katie-Jean. We’re thrilled you’ve been enjoying our recipes! Hope your cinnamon crunch bread was the perfect way to start the morning.

  13. Ashleigh Zincone says:

    Could I make the dough in the bread maker?

    1. Lexi @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Ashleigh, we haven’t tested it that way, but we’d love to know if you give it a try!

  14. This looks awesome! I may add small diced apples to the mix.

  15. Ohhhh Sally!! This looks incredible! This is a must bake this weekend. Dang it, these delicious recipes are getting in the way of my weight loss goals , so worth every bite though!

    1. Made this bread this afternoon! Absolutely delicious and easy to make! I wasn’t sure about the twisting of the dough, but your tutorial was very helpful! Now, I promised my husband that I’d make your Cheese Bread next!

  16. Rauna Campbell says:

    I made this today and it turned out fantastic. I did not have buttermilk so I substituted half-n-half and the dough came out perfectly. Also, I used my bread machine on the dough cycle for the first part of the recipe through the first rise. It came out perfectly as I knew it would and rolled out beautifully. I decided to drizzle a powdered sugar glaze on top which put it over the top. Thank you for this easy delicious recipe!

  17. Colleen Costello says:

    I doubled this and made two, one for us and one to be dropped off to my best friend’s porch. OMG YUM! Both already gone. So delicious. I make cinnamon rolls a lot and this was a lot like making those — easy. Twisting the pieces was fun. I sprayed my bread knife with oil to make cutting the dough easier. The top crunchy stuff MAKES this recipe! Thanks for this one. Your site has been a joy during quarantine.

  18. Made one loaf yesterday and poof! It was gone! So I made two loaves today! It’s fantastic!
    This bread recipe was easy and I used my kitchen aid mixer. I haven’t had the best of luck with bread recipes, but man this worked great!!
    Was wondering tho, if I could double the bread recipe ? Thinking it’s Probably just better to make them separately.

    1. Lexi @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Cindie, we’re thrilled to hear this bread was such a success for you! We’d recommend making two separate batches — this ensures the ingredients incorporate correctly and don’t overwhelm your mixer.

  19. I am having a hard time figuring out/visualizing what the folding into an X looks like . . . I’m sorry. Could you explain that a bit further? Do you cut the dough the whole way through so that it’s in 2 pieces? Maybe leaving the one end still connected? I’m sorry that I’m not getting this part . . .

    1. Stephanie @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Michelle, We shape this bread the exact same way we shape our cheese bread. You can watch Sally assemble the cheese bread starting at the 2:30 minute mark in the video in that post. I hope this helps!

  20. Just made this and love it- appreciate the measurements in grams and Celsius too!
    Would it be possible to use the same recipe and make them into smaller sized mini loaves or knot style rolls?

    1. Lexi @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Sophie, can’t see why not! Mini loaves would definitely work — we’re unsure of the bake time, as it would vary based on your pan size. Let us know what you try!

      1. They were really well. The recipe made brought to fit my 12 mini loaf tins which are about 1inch x 3inches and a small, more shall loaf. Took about 20-25 minutes to cook at 175 C.

  21. If I don’t have a loaf pan can I make this on a silpat?

    1. Lexi @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Kellie, unfortunately, a silpat on a baking sheet won’t work. You’ll need the high sides of a loaf pan for the bread to rise and bake properly.

  22. Janet Michaels says:

    Fantastic! Will definitely make this again. This was too large for my 9×5 loaf pan. Baked it on a cookie sheet pan. Still turned out awesome. I used unbleached, all purpose flour. Had to add 3 extra tablespoons of flour.

  23. This was soooo delicious! I didn’t have any buttermilk, but I did have a tub of plain Greek yoghurt so used that instead – worked great. Thanks for another fab recipe ☺️

  24. Just pulled this out of the oven for Sunday morning breakfast and WOW! It is amazing-cinnamony, sweet, and so tender. I cut off the ends before shaping and ended up with two little cinnamon buns and I am going to try to cut the whole thing into little cinnamon buns next time because they were absolutely perfect. I really really recommend putting a sheet of foil or parchment below because there were a lot of ooey gooey drips. This recipe is a keeper.

  25. I just made this recipe. It is AMAZING! I will make this over and over again! Thank you Sally!!!

  26. Absolutely lovely bread. The texture is amazing as is the taste. Definitely a keeper

  27. I made it this morning and it is phenomenal. I did everything as noted – baking time was about 50 for my loaf. I added a drizzle glaze on top for a little extra fancy (doesn’t add much flavor IMO). 10/10 will make again.

  28. So good! I made this cinnamon crunch bread this afternoon because I LOVE cinnamon. It’s like a cinnamon roll in a bread loaf and so delicious. The crunchy topping is addictive. My husband wanted icing for his slices so I made Sally’s vanilla icing from her cinnamon roll recipe. A definite hit and will make again!

  29. This bread was amazing!! I will definitely be making it again! And I’m glad you had the note about the baking sheet underneath the pan—saved me from a messy oven!

  30. This is the best bread I’ve ever had – soft, fluffy, moist, and tasty! I love your website. Thanks for another great recipe!

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