Homemade Cinnamon Swirl Bread

This homemade cinnamon swirl bread recipe is a family favorite and only requires a handful of basic ingredients. It’s soft and tender with the most unbelievably gooey cinnamon swirl inside!

Cinnamon swirl bread

Homemade cinnamon swirl bread is one of life’s greatest treasures. (Though it’s a stiff competition with homemade cheese bread!) Hot & fresh out of the oven, the smell alone will captivate a large crowd. The bread is buttery soft and the hypnotizing swirls are deliciously sweet. There is nothing on earth quite like the craft of homemade bread!

Homemade bread

Updated & Improved Cinnamon Swirl Bread Recipe

The first time I made homemade cinnamon swirl bread was a few years ago. I’ve always loved my recipe, but I 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 18×9-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.

Comparing two different rolling methods for homemade cinnamon swirl bread on sallysbakingaddiction.com

How to Make Cinnamon Swirl Bread

Today I’m teaching you how to become a bread baking master. Follow my tips and soon you’ll bake homemade croissants, bagels, cheese bread, and even star bread! With only a handful of basic ingredients, your kitchen will transform into a bread bakery.

  1. Prepare the Dough: The first step is to mix the bread dough. You need 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 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!
  2. Use Bread Flour: All-purpose flour doesn’t have enough strength to support the rise and structure of cinnamon swirl 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!
  3. First Rise: The dough must rise twice. After you prepare the dough, let it rise until doubled in size– about 90 minutes.
  4. Swirl the Dough: After the dough rises, punch it down, then roll it out. Sprinkle with cinnamon and sugar and roll back up.
  5. Second Rise: Place the rolled dough into a loaf pan and let it rest for 45 minutes.
  6. Bake: Pat yourself on the back because congratulations, you’re a bread baker with the simplest homemade cinnamon bread recipe in the world.

Step-by-step photos below the recipe!

Simple homemade cinnamon swirl bread is a family favorite bread recipe! The recipe makes just 1 loaf. Soft and fluffy slices of fresh bread have a gooey cinnamon swirl! Recipe on sallysbakingaddiction.com

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.

Homemade cinnamon swirl bread

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Cinnamon swirl bread

Homemade Cinnamon Swirl Bread

  • Author: Sally
  • Prep Time: 3 hours, 30 minutes
  • Cook Time: 40 minutes
  • Total Time: 4 hours, 45 minutes
  • Yield: 1 loaf
  • Category: Bread
  • Method: Baking
  • Cuisine: American

Description

This homemade cinnamon swirl bread recipe is a family favorite and only requires a handful of basic ingredients. It’s soft and tender with the most unbelievably gooey cinnamon swirl inside!


Ingredients

  • 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)

Instructions

  1. Whisk the yeast and 1/4 cup of granulated sugar together in a large bowl or in the bowl of your stand mixer.
  2. 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.
  3. 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 150°F (66°C), then turn the oven off after preheating. Place the covered bowl inside and shut the oven door. This is your warm environment.)
  4. Grease a 9×5-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.
  5. 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 9×18-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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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!

Notes

  1. Make Ahead Instructions – Overnight: Prepare the dough through step 3, allowing the dough to rise overnight in the refrigerator. The slow rise gives the bread wonderful flavor! In the morning, continue with step 4. 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 loaf in plastic wrap, then a layer of aluminum foil. Freeze for up to 3 months. Thaw 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 5, 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 5.
  3. Special Tools: KitchenAid Stand Mixer | 5-qt Tilt-Head Glass Mixing Bowl | Rolling Pin | Loaf Pan
  4. Milk: 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.
  5. Yeast: I always use Red Star Platinum yeast, an instant yeast. If using active dry yeast, the rise times could be slightly longer.
  6. Flour: 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.
  7. Kneading: 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.

Homemade Cinnamon Swirl Bread – Step by Step Photos

Bread flour is key to this cinnamon swirl bread recipe.

Bread flour and bread dough

After the soft dough is prepared, place it into a greased bowl and let it rise until doubled in size, about 90 minutes.

Homemade cinnamon swirl bread dough on sallysbakingaddiction.com

How to Roll Cinnamon Swirl Bread

After the dough rises, punch it down and shape the cinnamon swirl bread. Roll it out into the 18×9-inch rectangle. Sprinkle with a blend of cinnamon and sugar, then roll it up tightly just as you would cinnamon rolls.

How to shape homemade cinnamon swirl bread on sallysbakingaddiction.com

Cinnamon swirl bread dough

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. When it’s ready, brush with melted butter and bake. The bread is massive!

Cinnamon swirl bread in a pan

Simple homemade cinnamon swirl bread is a family favorite bread recipe! The recipe makes just 1 loaf. Soft and fluffy slices of fresh bread have a gooey cinnamon swirl! Recipe on sallysbakingaddiction.com

 

154 Comments

  1. omg. you are amazing! there’s this bakery outside of Chicago that makes amazing cinnamon swirl bread and other things, and I’m pretty sure that I keep their bakery in business. I’ve wanted to figure out how to make it and you did it for me! can’t wait to try it 🙂

  2. To Alexis, I think you can sub regular flour for the bread flour. I used to do it but didn’t realize the difference bread flour makes, especially with true breads and pizza dough. You will not get the same results. I’ve been using bread flour for a little over a year now and I find it makes a difference having baked numerous loaves in that time. But if you’re desperate to make this, try it. See what Sally recommends. I will be trying this recipe adding more filling. Our local supermarket makes the best cinnamon raisin bread with more swirl and the raisins disbursed throughout the dough. I would love to duplicate. Thank you for the recipe Sally and the inspiration to make it!

  3. I would actually take a slice of bread–just delicious, savory-sweet wheat bread–over a piece of cake anytime :), and this bread would also win out over dessert! I’d love to make this for my dad for Father’s Day…he would love it. Your photographs are beautiful…I love that purple towel/cloth!

  4. Homemade bread is the only way to go for bread! Store-bought just doesn’t stand a chance (expect baguettes–but once I learn how to make them, I may never even look at the bread section again!) I have to try it with some brie, apple, and honey! That sounds amazing 🙂

  5. I would totally be making this into french toast right now. I loveeeeeeeeee french toast ohhh wee! Ok, silly question (please don’t judge), how did you come to realize that bread flour gets the best results? What other recipes require or are better with bread flour? I know, I know. Obvious question because you’re making bread and it’s bread flour, I guess I’m just trying to understand your thought process as a recipe developer (is it all trial and error? How did you become so knowledgeable?). Maybe it will better me and help me think outside the box when I’m experimenting in the kitchen! I guess I just don’t want to end up with so many different kinds of flours in my kitchen so I was wondering what other uses it would be good for. Thank you, Sally!

    1. Trial and error, really! Lots of testing too. My mother-in-law has baked a lot of bread and taught me a couple years ago about the benefits of using bread flour in homemade bread recipes. The results just taste more like… bread. It’s really that simple.

  6. For the first rise, do you cover the bowl tightly with space to rise under the wrap or do you put the wrap right against the dough? I think this second option is more for things that don’t need to rise and you don’t want a skin on but I’ve never made bread so…

  7. Yum, this looks so good. I used to love this kind of bread when I was a kid. My mom would buy me the kind with raisins and I haven’t had it in years. This looks so fun and easy to make. I noticed that you listed raisins as optional, but I would so use them in this recipe.

  8. There’s no need to chocolate, sprinkles, frosting, or anything extra in this recipe. I love how simple it is and it’s perfect for when you want something just more than a plain slice of toast. I must get some bread flour! I think this would be perfect to make for Easter Sunday!

  9. There really is nothing better than the smell of homemade, freshly baked bread – even more so when there’s cinnamon involved! ♥
    I’m not sure yet whether I’d include the raisins or rather go for dried apples as I just adore the combination of cinnamon and apple flavours 🙂

  10. So glad you shared this recipe, Sally!! A lot of my baking is for our farmers’ market, and I’ve been taking a cinnamon swirl bread that kind of evolved from my cinnamon roll recipe (when the weather was hot and I didn’t want to take anything frosted or sticky to the market, just made it as a loaf of bread instead). But, I’ve always ended up with big unsightly gaps around the swirl, just like you said. Maybe another remedy, too, is to not butter the dough before putting on the cinnamon filling? I always do for rolls but should have thought to omit it for a loaf…duh… and then, to not be too lazy to go and get some real bread flour, already! I noticed you said that will also help it stay together. Anxious to try with these improvements. 🙂 Many thanks! (And p.s., we can vouch that with or without gaps, it does make scrumptious French toast!)

    1. Hey Erin! I always butter sweet roll doughs when making cinnamon rolls and similar recipes but not for cinnamon swirl bread. Try leaving the butter out like I do here. And roll up the loaf very tightly! This will help prevent the gaps.

  11. HA! That’s a fantastic reference to Despicable Me, Sally! As soon as I read “It’s so fluffy!”, that’s the first thing I thought; Agnes when she gets the fluff pink stuffed unicorn. 🙂

    I think this bread will be perfect for Easter weekend. Thanks so much for sharing!!

  12. Thank you so much for sharing this recipe! I’ve been wanting to make something like this for a while. It’ll be a nice treat. 🙂

  13. I am assuming that you must use warm water and milk to activate the yeast. Do I have to warm it to a certain temp? Thank you as always for your help. I would love to try this!! Happy Easter!!

  14. I love the simplicity of this recipe. I made cinnamon swirl bread this past week, but the recipe was so complicated. This one looks just right for me. Thanks so much.

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