Amanda & Merrill

Cinnamon Swirl Bread

October  8, 2010

Cinnamon Swirl Bread

- Amanda

Before I met my husband Tad, I’d never been to the Hamptons on the east end of Long Island, and now we go, like his family has for decades, every August. But I went on vacations there for 5 years before anyone in his family told me about the cinnamon swirl bread from Breadzilla, a bakery that’s tucked away in their tiny hamlet of Wainscott. And it might take 20 years to forgive them for not telling me sooner!

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Breadzilla’s piece de resistance is a pan loaf that’s poufy on top with a sugary, cinnamon crust, and is loaded up inside with a curl of cinnamon butter. When we’re there in the summer, I eat it every morning for breakfast, thickly sliced, toasted and spread with butter and a scattering of sea salt.

This is my effort to replicate the bread (though it should be noted that Breadzilla’s bread dough is more of a classic white Pullman, not a butter-and-egg dough).

I was sure this had to be Breadzilla’s only specialty, but then last summer my friend Stephen insisted I taste their bagels, the best I've ever had. Now I’m never forgiving Tad’s family.

Cinnamon Swirl Bread

Inspired by Breadzilla, bread dough adapted from The American Home, December 1965

Makes 1 loaf

For the bread dough:

  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 1/4 cup room temperature water
  • 1 package active dry yeast
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened 
  • 5 to 5 1/2 cups sifted all-purpose flour
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 2 tablespoons melted butter

For the cinnamon filling:

  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 3 tablespoons light brown sugar

1. Scald the milk by warming it in a pan over medium heat until bubbles form around the edge; remove from the heat and let cool.

2. Pour the water into the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook (or a large bowl fitted with your hands). Sprinkle the yeast in the water and let proof until fluffy, about 5 minutes. Add the cooled milk, sugar, salt, and eggs. Beat in 2 cups flour.

3. Add the butter, and beat until the butter is broken up into small curds. Beat in 1 more cup flour. Add enough remaining flour to make a soft dough. Let rest for 5 minutes.

4. Knead (in the mixer or by hand), only adding flour as needed, until the dough is soft and velvety and little blisters appear just under the surface. Put into a large well-greased bowl; turn the dough over to bring the greased side up. Cover with a clean damp towel or plastic wrap. Let rise until doubled in bulk, about 2 hours.

5. Punch dough down; let rise again for 30 minutes or until almost doubled.

6. Heat the oven to 350 degrees and butter a 9- x 5- x 3-inch loaf pan. In a small bowl, blend the 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon and 1 tablespoon sugar. In another bowl, prepare the filling: mash together the butter, cinnamon and sugars with a fork until a smooth paste forms.

7. Flatten the dough, seam-side-up, into a rectangle, 8 inches by 12 inches. Spread the cinnamon filling on top, pushing it close to the edges. Roll the dough into a log, tightly sealing the bottom seam, and place seam-side-down in the prepared pan. Loosely cover the dough with plastic wrap and let rest until puffy and nearly doubled in size, about 30 minutes.

8. Brush the top of the dough with the melted butter. Sprinkle with the cinnamon sugar. Bake until the bread is a chestnut brown and sounds hollow inside when tapped, 45 to 60 minutes. Let cool in the pan for 1 hour then remove the bread from the pan and continue cooling on a wire rack.

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Marian B. January 27, 2015
I have this in the oven right now -- I was worried that my yeast was bunk because my first rise wasn't very dramatic, but I think it was just the issue of a cold oven. It's rising beautifully in the oven and my oven smells like magical dreams and I can't wait to slice into it!
stephanieRD March 2, 2014
Wow! Made this yesterday and thank goodness I had the whole afternoon to do it- but it sure was worth all the wait. Made the house smell AMAZING. We made french toast out of it this morning and yes, it was LEGENDARY. Thanks for sharing!
happycao October 11, 2010
I'm a big bread baking enthusiast, and so it gets me all giddy when bread recipes pop up in my emails!
sygyzy October 11, 2010
I made this bread the other night, starting around 10PM. While it may be obvious if you go through the whole recipe and write down the times, it took a very long time and I ended up not sleeping until 3 in the morning.

25 minutes to scald milk and let it plus butter and eggs come to room temp.
5 minutes of mixing
5 minutes of waiting
10 more minutes of mixing and adding flour
30 minutes rise
30 more minutes of rising after punch down
10 minutes to make paste, roll out dough, spread, roll into log, grease pan
30 more minutes rise
60 minute bake
60 minute cool

265 minutes. That's almost 4.5 hours. This is not "hard" since much of that time is inactive work but can't leave for a long time since it needs tending to.

Another issue I had, and it might be just me but still I should warn others, is the amount of butter. No, I am not a health nut. I love butter. But with the buttered bread pan, the 2 TB of melted butter on top, plus 6 TB of filling, the cake was oozing out brown butter for the entire baking period. This resulted on butter pouring up and out of the pan walls, landing on the floor of the oven and smoking, causing my smoke alarm to go off for 1 hour. I have cathedral ceilings and the detectors are networked together so they can't simply be turned off or deactivated by conventional means. What added to this butter overflow was when I rolled the dough up and placed it in the pan, it was quite fat, then it doubled in size when I gave it a final rise. When it baked, it ended up being a good 3 inches over the top of the pan so that sort of pushed more butter out.

If you look at, or taste, the bread after it came out of the oven, you would never see any indication of a problem. Everything is perfect and tastes great but next time I would start this earlier in the day when I had half a day to spare. Plus I would either use less butter or use a catch tray and make sure my fan is running.
Amanda H. October 11, 2010
Thanks for your comment -- setting the pan atop a baking sheet would definitely help. Also anyone who doesn't want to use that much butter can cut back the amount in the filling to 2 tablespoons (will make more of a crumble mixture than a paste), and the topping to 1 tablespoon. Definitely fine to do either. I should note that another person baked the bread for 45 minutes and it wasn't fully cooked, so I'd bake it for the full 60 minutes. And sygyzy, a good bread baking trick is that you can always put the dough in the fridge overnight -- it slows down the rise so you can pick it up again the next day. Thanks for trying the recipe and I really appreciate your detailed feedback!
bella S. October 11, 2010
I should have added... Darn. I just got home from the store and we have no yeast. (Didn't see the recipe earlier.) I did put yeast at the top of the next grocery list. I do have a question that I hope isn't a foolish one. (I don't like the word "stupid".) Putting the butter and the eggs on the back of the stove... I assume the oven is on, or you would just be putting them out on the counter. Doesn't the heat from the oven start to melt the butter? This made me think about when I was a kid, my parents would put things that needed to defrost or warm up, in the oven, without it being turned on. Doughs would also go in there to rise. Didn't recipes ask for a warm, draft-free place? Ovens had pilot lights.
Amanda H. October 11, 2010
It's a good question -- yes, the oven is on, but I don't put the butter anywhere it would melt. And I leave it there just until it softens up a bit. 10 minutes is usually plenty.
bella S. October 11, 2010

When copying recipes that have pictures or other things separating sections of the directions, I copy all. After everything is copied, I go to the paste icon at the end of the document, and select "Text only". The pictures, odd fonts, etc. disappear and I am left with just the words. I then go to page set-up and change the margins. 9 times out of 10 I get everything to fit on one page. Hope this works for you.
liamoran October 11, 2010
I just made this. As's still cooling on the counter and I can smell it from here. I can't wait to dig in. This is only the second time I've made bread in my life! I am excited to taste the results. Thanks for sharing!
Lunadalutti October 11, 2010
Sounds - and looks! - yummy!!!

Tomorrow is "Children's Day" here in Brazil and I'm 8 months pregnant with my first child. I'm craving this cinnamon bread really bad!!! (It's the baby, not me...)

So, in order to bake it properly, I wanted to ask how many grams of yeast come in a regular package... Since I'm Brazil, I'm not familiar with the american standards!

Thanks for the great site, I follow you eagerly!
Amanda H. October 11, 2010
It's 7 g. Happy Children's Day!
ddmorris October 11, 2010
how do i print just the recipe???thank-you!
Amanda H. October 11, 2010
For now you have to print the whole blog post but in the next couple of days we'll add the recipe to the recipe search and you'll be able to print just the recipe. Sorry -- takes us a couple of days to cross our t's and dot our i's!
lapadia October 10, 2010
I love this bread Amanda; I have made this bread many times; not for a while but the first time I was 16yr old - Yikes!. It was a recipe I found in a very old cookbook my mother had, after seeing your picture and reading your recipe it is SO right on!!
lapadia October 10, 2010
Oh, and let me add one of the times I made this bread I took pictures using one of those old fashion Polaroid Land cameras where the picture pops out, before the digital age, that's me taking pictures of food...way back. (oops my punctuation needs editing-above)
phyllis October 10, 2010
Midge, I copy the recipes into Word or textedit, save, and then print. It's a useful solution until the site is fixed.

Amanda, I've had the bread from Breadzilla, and I dream about it. I don't usually bake bread, but I might have to try this one!! Thx.
courtneycarlson October 10, 2010
I dream about Breadzilla all year. It is always our first stop on our trek up from DC. The guy who runs it is so fabulous,--one year he gave me a container of sourdough starter which I had for ages but then killed it during our move. Thanks for the delicious reminder--I can't wait to try your version. It makes insanely glutinous French toast.
jstew52 October 10, 2010
Probably gluttonous as well...
courtneycarlson October 11, 2010
Ha ha ha. Yes, that glutinous dough will make a rich and delicious bread and with the addition of eggs and milk, it will make a gluttonous french toast! Excuse the typo.
SAMCat0102 October 10, 2010
Thinking about making this as a surprise for a girl's weekend up in the NC mountains.. we will be there fri-sun next weekend... if i make it thurs. nite at home will it still be good for sat/sun morning??
Amanda H. October 10, 2010
Should hold up. Keep it covered and I'd probably toast the slices.
SAMCat0102 October 10, 2010
thanks for the quick response --- and love the new post about making french toast from it!! that just might be the winner!
Amanda H. October 9, 2010
FYI, anyone who printed this previously, I realized that I forgot the light brown sugar in the filling mixture. It's in there now.
sygyzy October 9, 2010
Thanks Amanda! I am making this tomorrow. Wow, first Merrill's cookies then your cinnamon bread. It's going to be a Food 52 feast.
Amanda H. October 9, 2010
Enjoy and let me know how it turns out!
Cara E. October 8, 2010
OK, yum. Definitely on my to-make list.
mrslarkin October 8, 2010
Beautiful! I bet the whole house smelled great! The plastic bowl scraper has got to be my favorite kitchen tool. Question about the pan size...what made you decide on the smaller pan?
Amanda H. October 9, 2010
Wanted to make sure it puffed up nicely for the photo, but it might have baked better in the other actually -- less of a zeppelin.
mcs3000 October 8, 2010
Wish I could make it now, but def. this weekend. Thanks. I'll bet Tad's got a great fam, but agree - can't forgive them for this! And must visit Breadzilla next time I visit NY.
Amanda H. October 9, 2010
Do visit -- it's a great place.
comoju October 8, 2010
I love cinnamon and I want to make this recipe
Amanda H. October 9, 2010
Have you ever tried Vietnamese cinnamon -- really fragrant. Would be good in this recipe.
Lizthechef October 8, 2010
This looks perfect for a fall breakfast on a cool morning. I love when a great recipe is posted and I have everything in the fridge and pastry, all set to go!
Amanda H. October 9, 2010
Let me know how it turns out.