This Cinnamon Swirl Bread is a soft yeast bread swirled with cinnamon and sugar! It’s perfect for french toast, cinnamon toast, or just on its own.
Do you like yeast? Because I do…a lot. I know I’ve already talked about it a lot, but it’s really so cool. It’s like magical! I feel like their are little elves inside my bread trying to push their way out. Yeah…I’m odd. But it really is awesome. The way things can double their size just from one ingredient to become fluffy and light and yummy and delicious. Don’t you ever think baking is cool? It’s amazing to me how if you mix an egg white for a certain amount of time it will completely transform, and how if you boil sugar and corn syrup it will turn into a delicious caramel. It’s incredible! Anyways, bread.
I’ve been on a serious bread making kick lately. Somehow though, none of them have lasted long enough/looked pretty enough to be photographed. This cinnamon swirl loaf? Third one I made. But I don’t think anyone really minded because it’s ridiculously delicious, no exaggerations. The original is a Dorie Greenspan recipe, and while I used the same dough, I changed the filling. I’m not a big raisin person and cocoa sounded weird so I upped the sugar and cinnamon…a lot. And I added some water to make it gooey and sticky and yummy. The result? Cinnamon roll bread. Seriously, if you added a cream cheese glaze it would be a giant cinnamon roll, but I just couldn’t bring myself to do it. I was tempted though. Dorie gives a few options for the dough, some being nutmeg and orange zest, but I stayed classic and the only optional ingredient I added was the vanilla. I’m a purist, I guess. Don’t mess with my cinnamon bread. So, ready to make bread? Do it do it do it. That’s a demand, in the most respectful way possible. (Do it.) Good luck! :)
Cinnamon Swirl Bread
For the bread:
- 1 packet active dry yeast
- 1/4 cup sugar plus a pinch
- 1 1/4 cups just-warm-to-the-touch whole milk
- 1/2 stick 4 tablespoons or 60g unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 3/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 large egg
- 1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract optional
- Grated zest of 1/2 orange optional
- Pinch of freshly grated nutmeg optional
- 3 3/4 to 4 cups all-purpose flour
For the swirl:
- 1/4 cup granulated sugar
- 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
- 1 tsp. water
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter + 1 tablespoon softened to a spreadable consistency
To make the bread:
- Put the yeast in a small bowl, toss in the pinch of sugar and stir in 1/4 cup of the warm milk. Let rest for 3 minutes, then stir - the yeast may not have dissolved completely and it may not have bubbled, but it should be soft.
- Working with a stand mixer, preferably fitted with a paddle attachment, combine the remaining 1 cup of milk, the butter and the remaining 1/4 cup sugar and mix for a minute or two. Add the salt, egg and vanilla, if you are using it, as well as the zest and nutmeg, if you're using them, and mix for a minute. In all likelihood, the mixture will look unpleasantly curdly. Add the yeast mixture and beat on low-medium speed for 1 minute more.
- Turn the mixer off and add 2 3/4 cups of the flour. Mix on low speed just until you work the flour into the liquids - you'll have a sticky mix. If you've got a dough hook, switch to it now. Add another 1 cup of flour gradually or until the dough comes together, increase the mixer speed to medium and beat the dough for a couple of minutes. If the dough does has still not come together and almost clean the sides of the bowl, add up to 1/4 cup more flour, 1 tablespoon at a time. Keep the mixer speed at medium and knead the dough for about 3 minutes, or until it is smooth and has a lovely buttery sheen. The dough will be very soft, much too soft to knead by hand (I usually only end up using about 3 1/2 cups flour).
- Butter a large bowl, turn the dough into a bowl and cover the bowl tightly with plastic wrap. Put the bowl in a warm place and let the dough rise until it is doubled in size, about 1 1/2 hours.
- Scrape the dough onto a large piece of plastic wrap, wrap it and put it in the freezer for 30 minutes to firm enough to be rolled easily. (At this point, you can instead refrigerate the dough overnight if that is more convenient).
To make the swirl and shape the loaf:
- Butter a 9 x 5 inch loaf pan. I like to sprinkle the pan with a little bit of sugar to get a nice crust on it, but that's just me :)
- Whisk together the sugar, cinnamon, 4 tablespoons butter and water until completely combined.
- Put the dough on a large work surface lightly dusted with flour, lightly dust the top of the dough and roll the dough into a rectangle about 12 x 18 inches.
- Gently smear the sugar mixture over the dough, covering the whole thing. Starting from a short side of the dough, roll the dough up jelly-roll fashion, making sure to roll the dough snugly. Fit the dough into the buttered pan, seam side down, and tuck the ends under the loaf.
- Cover the pan loosely with a towel and set in a warm place; let the dough rise until it comes just a little above the edges of the pan, about 45 minutes.
- When the dough has almost fully risen, center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees Celsius). Line a baking sheet with parchment or a silicone mat.
- Melt the remaining tablespoon of butter, and brush the top of the loaf with the butter. I sprinkled on some extra cinnamon sugar, but that's optional. Put the pan on the baking sheet and bake the bread for about 20 minutes. Cover loosely with a foil tent and bake for another 25 minutes or so, until the bread is golden and sounds hollow when the bottom of the pan is tapped. Transfer the pan to a rack and cool for 5 minutes, then unmold. Invert the bread and cool to room temperature right side up on the rack.
Adapted from Baking: From My Home To Yours by Dorie Greenspan