Treat Yourself to Homemade Cinnamon Swirl Bread

This recipe is one of life’s greatest treasures. When the loaves come out of the oven hot and fresh, the smell brings everyone running to the kitchen.

Vertical image of slices of cinnamon swirl bread, one with a pat of butter on it, with text in the middle and on the bottom of the image.

The bread itself is super soft and the gorgeous cinnamon swirl inside has just the right amount of sweetness and spice.

I mean, is there anything quite like homemade bread, fresh out of the oven?

While these loaves were baking, I was attempting to get a quick workout and meditation session in. But while I was sitting in lotus position on my yoga mat, trying to clear my mind, all I could think about was the cinnamon-scented air that was floating into the living room, tickling my nose.

It was all I could do not to run into the kitchen to get out my bread knife and cut a warm slice right then and there.

In fact, I might have eaten a few too many slices that first day when I made this recipe…

Vertical image of a hand holding a pice of cinnamon swirl bread over a wooden board and mugs of coffee.

Bread is the one thing in our home that never lasts. Whether we are making sandwiches or french toast, or tearing off hunks to dunk in olive oil and balsamic vinegar, it disappears very, VERY quickly.

Part of why I love this recipe so much is because all that work that goes into it actually yields two whole loaves. You can keep both to eat like we usually do, or you can give one away to your favorite friend, family member, neighbor, or person you are trying to bribe into doing yard work for you… The options are endless!

I know that making bread from scratch can be totally intimidating. There are more than a few steps and lots of time spent letting the dough rise. But really, it’s straightforward enough. You just need to be sure to read the recipe through at least once before you get started.

I can’t tell you how many times I haven’t done this, and that has sometimes resulted in total failure – whether it was because I left out certain ingredients, I didn’t make sure they were the correct temperature before I started, or I didn’t budget enough time to see it through from start to finish.

Vertical top-down image of slices of swirled bread, some shingled on a wooden board and some on individual plates, surrounded by coffee, cinnamon sticks, and butter.

This is something that happens to everybody. But this recipe is really no-fail, if you read it carefully, measure accurately, and follow the simple instructions.

Trust me when I say that there is nothing better than the smell of fresh yeast and cinnamon when you remove the plastic wrap from the rising dough. There’s nothing like the feeling of the soft dough when you roll it up and place it in the loaf pans. And there’s nothing like that enticing aroma that wafts into the living room, distracting you from whatever you are doing while you wait for it to bake.

It’s so satisfying to make something like this from scratch, and  a yeast-based recipe like this one is something I will never get sick of making. If you are not a bread maker, you are going to become one as soon as you give this recipe a try.

Vertical image of fluffy bread slices with a swirl filling stacked on top of each other next to plates and mugs of coffee.

After it comes out of the oven, there are so many ways to serve this scrumptious bread.

You can eat slices of it straight up, or you can top them with softened butter, either salted or unsalted. A spread of soft cream cheese is delightful, as is a touch of raspberry or mixed berry jam. When you eat it soft, it’s quite tasty, but throwing it in the toaster is pretty darn delicious as well.

However you choose to enjoy it, this is sure to become one of your favorite ways to start the day.

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Horizontal image of a hand holding a slice of bread with a swirled filling.

Cinnamon Swirl Bread


  • Author: Meghan Yager
  • Prep Time: 25 minutes
  • Cook Time: 45 minutes
  • Total Time: 3 hours, 30 minutes
  • Yield: 2 loaves 1x

Description

Homemade cinnamon swirl bread is one of life’s great pleasures. It’s a family favorite that takes some time to make, but is so worth it.


Scale

Ingredients

For the Dough:

  • 1 envelope (2 1/4 tsp) active dry yeast
  • 2 cups warm whole milk (about 110°F)
  • 6 ½ cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
  • 1 stick unsalted butter (8 tablespoons), room temperature, plus more for greasing
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 ½ teaspoons coarse salt
  • 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil

For the Filling:

  • 1 ½ cups granulated sugar
  • 3 tablespoons ground cinnamon
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, melted and cooled

Instructions

To Make the Dough:

  1. In the bowl of an electric stand mixer, sprinkle yeast over warm milk, and whisk to combine. Let the mixture stand for about 10 minutes, until foamy.
  2. Remove the whisk attachment and replace with the paddle attachment. Add flour, butter, sugar, eggs, and salt. Mix on low speed until everything’s combined, about 3 minutes.
  3. Raise speed to medium-low, and continue to mix until the dough is smooth and pulls away from the sides of the bowl, about 3-6 minutes more. Turn out the dough onto a lightly floured surface, and pat it into a big round.
  4. Sprinkle with 1 tablespoon cinnamon, and knead and fold until it’s incorporated, about 5 minutes. You can also knead this with the dough hook in the bowl of your mixer for 3 minutes on medium-low speed.
  5. Lightly oil a large mixing bowl and a large piece of plastic wrap. Place the dough in the bowl and cover with the oiled plastic wrap with the oil side down. Let rise in a warm place until doubled in size, about 1 hour.
  6. Return the dough to a lightly floured work surface, and pat it into a rectangle. In the same way that you would fold a letter, fold the bottom third of the dough up, and the top third down, so they are overlapping. Fold the right and left sides over so they overlap, then gently press down to seal.
  7. Return the dough into the bowl with the sealed side down. Let it rise again until doubled in size, about 40 minutes.
  8. Generously butter two 9-by-5-inch loaf pans, and set them aside. Lightly oil two pieces of plastic wrap that will be used to cover the pans.

To Make the Filling, Shape, and Bake:

  1. Stir together sugar and cinnamon with 2 tablespoons water and cooled melted butter in a small bowl until combined.
  2. Return the dough to a lightly floured work surface, and divide into two equal portions. Roll each into a rectangle that’s 2 inches wider on each side short side and 1 inch longer on each long side than the base of the pans, i.e. 9 inches by 11 inches.
  3. Lightly beat the remaining egg. Brush the dough with half of the beaten egg, and save the rest. Sprinkle each with half of the filling. Do not leave an uncoated border around the edges.
  4. With the short end of the rectangle facing you, fold in both of the long sides of the dough to the center, so that they meet but do not overlap.
  5. Roll the dough towards you, gently pressing to form a tight log. Roll back and forth to seal the seam.
  6. Place loaves in prepared pans, seam side down. Cover loosely with oiled plastic wrap, and let rest in a warm place, about 30 minutes or until doubled in size.
  7. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 425°F.
  8. Brush the tops of the loaves with the remaining beaten egg, and transfer pans to the oven. Bake, rotating pans halfway through, until loaves are golden brown, about 45 minutes. Keep an eye on them! If the tops begin to brown too quickly, tent with aluminum foil RIGHT AWAY.
  9. Remove from the oven. Turn out the bread onto a wire rack to cool completely before slicing. The bread can be kept, wrapped tightly in plastic at room temperature, for up to 4 days.

Notes

Adapted from Honey & Jam.

  • Category: Bread
  • Method: Baking
  • Cuisine: Breakfast

Keywords: cinnamon, cinnamon swirl bread

Cooking By the Numbers…

Step 1 – Warm Milk, Soften and Melt Butter, and Measure Remaining Ingredients

Horizontal image of milk and yeast in a metal bowl.

Soften a stick of butter to room temperature by leaving it on the counter for a few hours, or soften at a low temperature in the microwave. Do not allow it to melt!

Warm milk over medium-low heat in a small saucepan until it reaches about 110˚F. Be careful not to scald the milk.

Melt 1 tablespoon of butter for the filling in a microwave-safe bowl in the microwave for about 30 seconds, until melted. Set aside to cool.

Measure out all remaining ingredients as listed on the ingredients list.

Step 2 – Make Dough

Add the warm milk to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Sprinkle yeast over the milk and whisk on medium-low to combine. Let the mixture stand for 10 minutes until foamy.

Did your yeast not foam up? It may be expired. Read our guide to yeast for more info.

Replace the whisk attachment with the paddle attachment. Add flour, softened butter, sugar, 2 eggs, and salt. Mix together on low until combined, about 3 minutes.

Horizontal image of kneading dough in a mixing bowl fitted with the dough hook attachment.

Increase speed to medium-low. Mix until the dough is smooth and pulls away from the sides of the bowl. This will take about 3 to 6 minutes.

Transfer the dough to a floured surface and sprinkle with cinnamon. Knead the dough together until the cinnamon is well incorporated, about 5 minutes.

Horizontal image of mixing ground cinnamon in a dough.

If you want to knead your dough in the stand mixer, replace the paddle attachment with the dough hook. Add the cinnamon and mix on medium-low speed for 3 minutes.

Step 3 – Proof

Add the dough to a bowl that’s been lightly oiled and top with an oiled piece of plastic wrap. Let rise in a warm place for 1 hour, until doubled in size.

Horizontal image of a folded large piece of spiced dough.

Transfer the dough to a floured surface and pat into a rectangle. Fold the bottom third up, and the top third down so they are overlapping. Pull the right and left sides over so they overlap as well.

Horizontal image of a risen spiced dough in a metal mixing bowl.

Press down gently to seal, then return to the bowl with the seam side down. Cover again and let rise until doubled in size, about 40 minutes.

Step 4 – Make Filling

Horizontal image of a blue bowl with a cinnamon sugar filling and a metal spoon.

In a small bowl, stir together sugar, cinnamon, water, and cooled melted butter until combined. Set aside.

Step 5 – Fill and Form Loaves

Butter two 9-by-5-inch loaf pans and set them aside. Lightly oil two pieces of plastic wrap that are large enough to cover the pans.

Transfer the dough to a lightly floured surface once more. Divide it into two equal portions.

Horizontal image of a rolled-out rectangle of dough.

Roll each into a rectangle that is 9 inches by 11 inches in diameter.

Lightly beat the remaining egg and brush half of it onto the two pieces of dough. Sprinkle each evenly with half of the filling, all the way up to the edges.

Horizontal image of a cinnamon sugar mixture evenly spread on a rectangular piece of dough.

Fold in the long sides of each rectangle of dough to the center. They should meet and line up in the center rather than overlapping.

With the short end facing you, roll the dough towards you, forming a tight log. Roll back and forth to seal the seam on the bottom.

Step 6 – Let Rise

Place the dough in the prepared pans, seam side down.

Horizontal image of a shaped dough spread with butter in a rectangular metal loaf pan.

Cover loosely with lightly oiled plastic wrap. Set aside to rest in a warm place for about 30 minutes, until doubled in size.

Step 7 – Bake

When you’re almost ready to bake, preheat your oven to 425˚F.

Brush the tops of the loaves with the remaining beaten egg.

Bake for 45 minutes, until loaves are browned and baked through, rotating the pans halfway through.

Horizontal image of a browned baked loaf in a metal rectangular pan.

Note that these loaves will brown quickly – mine did after 15 minutes – so keep an eye on them. Once they start to brown, tent them immediately with aluminum foil.

Remove from the oven, and transfer the bread immediately from the pans to a wire rack to cool completely.

The bread came out super easily for me, and there’s no need to allow it to cool in the pan first. It should pop out pretty easily for you as well, but just in case it gets stuck, you can run a knife around the edge of the pan for easier removal.

Horizontal image of a hand holding a slice of bread with a swirled filling.

This bread can be stored for up to 4 days at room temperature, wrapped tightly in plastic wrap.

French Toast Magic Exists

Do you want to know what to do with the leftover bread, if you have any?

(Honestly, I don’t know why you wouldn’t gobble this all up in 4 days or less, but just in case you don’t…)

You can make french toast with this cinnamon swirl deliciousness, and thank me later.

Horizontal image of a slice of swirled bread on a plate next to cinnamon sticks.

Just replace your usual brioche or challah with thick slices of this bread. Voila, you’ll have cinnamon french toast in a snap! Top it with powdered sugar, fresh fruit, and pure maple syrup for the ultimate last-minute brunch option.

Have I convinced you to make more bread at home? Here are some additional recipes to try:

How will you devour this recipe? Toasted, with butter, with jam, or some other way? Tell us in the comments below, and be sure to rate the recipe as well after you’ve tried it!

Photos by Meghan Yager, © Ask the Experts, LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. See our TOS for more details. Originally published by Shanna Mallon on September 14, 2009. Last updated: November 10, 2019 at 9:26 am. With additional writing and editing by Allison Sidhu.

Nutritional information derived from a database of known generic and branded foods and ingredients and was not compiled by a registered dietitian or submitted for lab testing. It should be viewed as an approximation.

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About Meghan Yager

Meghan Yager is a food addict turned food and travel writer with a love for creating uncomplicated, gourmet recipes and devouring anything the world serves up. As the author of the food and travel blog Cake 'n Knife, Meghan focuses on unique foodie experiences from around the world to right at home in your own kitchen.

8 thoughts on “Treat Yourself to Homemade Cinnamon Swirl Bread”

  1. I LOVE cinnamon bread. It always reminds me of my Nana. All the times of sleeping in on Christmas vacations and waking up to the smell of her cinnamon bread. So many memories.

  2. From the photos, I’d say it’s a smash hit – and if it tastes good and you enjoyed making it, that’s all that matters!

    Cheers,

    *Heather*

  3. This looks very much like the cinnamon swirl bread my mom used to buy often at the store! But this looks better and heartier. =)

    I’m printing this recipe and baking this bread soon!

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