We love baking Cinnamon Swirl Bread in our house! This beautiful bread comes out so soft, tender, and full of delicious cinnamon flavors. This cinnamon swirl bread is made with bread flour and active dry yeast.
It’s been a while since I baked bread. I didn’t realize how much I missed baking bread until I made this delicious cinnamon swirl bread recently, and let me tell you…it’s SO GOOD!
This cinnamon swirl bread is soft, tender, golden brown, beautiful, and delicious. If you’re like me and love cinnamon, you need to make this!
Not going to lie…making this bread requires some work and time (especially to let the dough rise), but if you find baking bread therapeutic and relaxing, you’ll love it!
Ingredients You’ll Need
Here is an overview of the ingredients you will need to make this cinnamon swirl bread recipe. Per usual, the ingredient quantities are in the recipe card all the way below, but I wanted to give you an idea:
- Active dry yeast: For the dough.
- Whole milk: For richness and moisture.
- Unsalted butter: For flavor and fat.
- Eggs: For structure.
- Granulated sugar: For sweetness.
- Bread flour: Bread flour, rather than all-purpose, works great here because it creates tender and light bread.
- Salt: To bring out flavors.
- For the filling: Ground cinnamon, brown sugar, and one egg (the binder).
- For the egg wash to brush on top: Egg and milk. The egg wash will give you that beautiful golden brown color.
Why Use Bread Flour
Bread flour contains more protein than all-purpose flour, which means it produces more gluten. This achieves two main things 1) tall bread and 2) light bread.
The trick for baking soft breads with bread flour is to not knead it too much. Too much kneading can lead to chewier texture. Baking this cinnamon swirl bread with all-purpose flour would still work, but you won’t get that tall rise and the bread would be somewhat dense.
How to Make Cinnamon Swirl Bread
I’d recommend baking this cinnamon bread over the weekend or whenever you have time. It takes about 3 to 4 hours from start to finish, although 2.5 hours is inactive time (waiting for the dough to rise).
Once the bread comes out of the oven and your house smells like cinnamon goodness, you’ll be so happy!
Basically, there are three parts to making cinnamon swirl bread: 1) making the dough and letting it rise, 2) adding the cinnamon filling, rolling the dough and letting it rise one more time, and 3) baking it.
You can find all the specific ingredient quantities and detailed steps in the recipe card below, but I wanted to give you a general idea of the process right here:
1. Make the yeast dough and let it rise
First activate the yeast to make sure it is good to use. To activate it, dissolve active dry yeast with warm milk and a teaspoon of sugar, and let it sit for 10 minutes. If it foams up, it’s good to go! If not, discard and start over with fresh yeast.
To make the dough, mix in salt, eggs, melted butter, sugar with the yeast mixture. Then add flour, one cup at a time. Mix and knead until a manageable yet somewhat sticky dough forms. Let it rest in a warm and draft-free environment for about 1.5 hours or until doubled in size. Learn more about working yeast dough!
2. Add the filling
Roll the dough into a 9×18 rectangle over a lightly flour surface using a rolling pin.
Brush the inside with egg wash made with egg and water. This will be the “binder” or “glue” for the filling. Without the egg wash binder, the swirls will separate and the cinnamon bread will be hollow inside. With that said, do NOT brush with melted butter as it contains fat and is slippery.
Then sprinkle brown sugar and ground cinnamon, leaving a 1-inch border.
3. Roll dough to form swirls and let it rise again
Starting from the short end, roll the dough as tightly as you can without squeezing out the filling. Try to roll uniformly without putting too much pressure in the middle.
Transfer to a greased 9×5 inch loaf pan. Cover with plastic wrap and let it rise for another hour in a warm and draft-free place. It should double in size.
4. Brush with egg wash and bake!
To get that golden brown color on top, brush with an egg wash (milk and egg). The milk, which contains fat, will get you that beautiful golden brown color. Brush the top gently, being careful not to press too hard.
Bake at 350 degrees F for about 35 minutes. Tent with foil after about 20-25 minutes to prevent it from browning too much. The bread should be tall and have a beautiful golden brown color.
Your house will smell so good…just like a bakery!
How to Prevent Separated Swirls
When I first tested this cinnamon swirl bread recipe, it failed. The bread looked beautiful on the outside, but the inside was hollow! The swirls separated.
I realized that this was because I had brushed the rolled out dough with melted butter before adding the cinnamon sugar filling. No wonder! During the second rise and while baking, as the dough rose and expanded, the swirls separated because they had nothing cling onto. Lesson learned.
To prevent separated swirls, brush the dough with an egg and water mixture and then sprinkle in the cinnamon sugar filling. The egg and water mixture will serve as a “binder” or “glue” so that the swirls don’t separate. It won’t be perfect, but you’ll actually get swirls!
Ideas for Serving
I love serving this cinnamon swirl in so many ways! Here are some of my top picks:
- Cinnamon swirl toast! Just toast it for a few minutes and spread with butter.
- Turn it into French toast or a French toast casserole.
- Use it to make bread pudding.
This cinnamon swirl bread is one of my favorite things to bake because it makes my house smell SO good! It’s soft, tender, and full of amazing cinnamon flavors.
I love serving it for breakfast throughout the week. Whatever is left, I like to use it to make French toast. The full recipe is included below. Happy baking!
Other fall baking recipes to check out:
Tips for Success
- Prevent separated swirls: Before sprinkling the cinnamon and sugar filling, brush the dough with an egg and water mixture. This will act as a binder so that the swirls don’t separate while the dough is rising or baking. Do NOT brush with melted butter, or the swirls will separate while baking.
- Use bread flour rather than all-purpose flour for a lighter, softer, and taller bread loaf.
Cinnamon Swirl Bread
- 1 (0.25 oz) package active dry yeast - (2 ¼ teaspoons)
- 1 cup whole milk - (warmed to 110-115 degrees F)
- 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled
- 2 large eggs
- ⅓ cup granulated sugar, plus 1 teaspoon
- 3 ½ to 4 ½ cups bread flour, plus more as needed
- 1 teaspoon salt
- Vegetable oil for greasing the bowl - (for the dough)
- Unsalted butter for greasing the loaf pan
Cinnamon and sugar filling:
- ⅓ cup brown sugar
- 3 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 1 egg - (beaten with 1 tablespoon water)
Egg wash brushing the top:
- 1 egg
- 1 tablespoon whole milk
- Pour warm milk (110-115 degrees F) into the bowl of a stand mixer. Add 1 teaspoon of the sugar and the active dry yeast. Stir, and let it stand for about 10 minutes until frothy. This means that the yeast is good. If it does not get frothy, start over with fresh yeast.
- With the mixer on medium speed (use the whisk attachment), mix the yeast mixture, melted butter, ⅓ cup sugar, salt, and eggs until combined.
- Switch to the dough hook attachment on the stand mixer. On medium speed, add 3 cups of bread flour, 1 cup at a time. Add the remaining flour in 1/4 cup increments as needed, until a dough has formed. Increase to medium-high speed and mix/knead for 3-4 minutes. If it’s sticking to the bowl too much, continue adding flour in ¼ cup increments. I ended up using 4 ¼ cups of flour. The dough should be slightly sticky, moist, and manageable.
- Transfer the dough to a floured surface, and knead by hand for another 2-3 minutes, adding more flour as needed, until the dough is manageable and springs back slowly when poked. Form a ball, and transfer to a lightly oiled bowl (vegetable oil is fine), making sure to coat all sides of the dough with oil. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let it rise for about 1.5 hours or until doubled in size in a warm and draft-free environment (see note below on "creating a warm environment").
- Make the cinnamon and sugar filling: In a bowl, whisk the brown sugar with ground cinnamon until evenly combined. Set aside.
- Grease a 9×5 baking pan with butter. Set aside.
- After the dough has doubled in size, punch it down to remove the air. Roll it out into a 9×18 inch rectangle on a lightly floured surface. Brush with the egg and water mixture (1 egg beaten with 1 tablespoon water), leaving 1 inch borders. Sprinkle with the cinnamon and sugar mixture evenly. Starting from the shorter side, roll the dough as tightly as you can to form a 9-inch log. Pinch to seal the dough. Tip: when rolling the dough, try not to apply too much pressure in the middle so that it’s uniformly rolled.
- Transfer the rolled dough to the prepared 9×5 pan. Cover with plastic wrap and let it rise for 1 hour or until puffed up in a warm and draft-free environment.
- While the dough is rising, preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
- After the dough has risen, make the egg wash by whisking 1 egg with 1 tablespoon of whole milk until well-combined. Brush the top of the puffed up dough with it, being careful not to press too hard. Bake for 35 minutes until golden brown. Tent with foil after about 23-25 minutes to prevent it from browning too much. Note: if the bread is browning faster on one side, rotate it, as sometimes ovens have hot spots.
- Remove baked bread from the oven and let it cool for 15 minutes before removing it from the pan. Then remove from the pan and let it cool completely on a wire rack. Enjoy!
- Special equipment: kitchen thermometer, stand mixer, rolling pin, 9×5 loaf pan, plastic wrap, pastry brush.
- Creating a warm environment for dough to rise: Microwave some water in a mug for 2 minutes to get the microwave warmed up. Then, place the bowl with the dough in the microwave oven, pushing the mug to a corner, and close the door.
- Check out my guide on working with yeast dough.
- Storing: Store at room temperature in an airtight container for up to 3 days.