No-Knead Cinnamon Swirl Bread

April  4, 2017
4 Ratings
Photo by Eva Kolenko
  • Makes 2 loaves
Author Notes

Nearly every morning for breakfast, I slather toast with butter, shower cinnamon and sugar over the top, and present the slices to the little ones surrounding my kitchen table. Nothing, however, beats the real thing: a tender, fragrant loaf, swirled with cinnamon and sugar. The key here is to allow the dough to rest for 20 minutes after deflating and portioning it, which relaxes the gluten, enabling it to stretch easily, therefore precluding the need for a rolling pin.

Reprinted from my book Bread Toast Crumbs (Clarkson Potter 2017). —Alexandra Stafford

What You'll Need
  • For the dough:
  • 6 cups (768 grams) unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 cup (55 grams) sugar
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons instant yeast
  • 1 1/2 cups buttermilk or milk
  • 1 cup boiling water
  • 6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) unsalted butter, melted
  • Softened unsalted butter, for greasing
  • For assembly:
  • 1/4 cup (32 grams) flour, for clean surface
  • 1/2 cup (110 grams) sugar
  • 1 tablespoon cinnamon
  • 1 egg beaten with 1 teaspoon water
  1. Make the dough: In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, sugar, and instant yeast. In a medium bowl, combine the buttermilk, the boiling water, and 1/2 cup water. Stir to combine, then add to the flour mixture, followed by the melted butter. Mix until the liquid is absorbed and the ingredients form a sticky dough ball. Cover the bowl with a damp tea towel or plastic wrap and set aside in a warm spot to rise for 1 1/2 hours, or until the dough has doubled in bulk.
  2. Set a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat it to 375° F. Grease two 8 1/2- by 4 1/2-inch loaf pans generously with the softened butter. Using two forks, deflate the dough by releasing it from the sides of the bowl and pulling it toward the center. Rotate the bowl quarter turns as you deflate, turning the mass into a rough ball.
  3. Assemble the bread: Sprinkle the flour onto a clean surface. Using your two forks and working from the center out, separate the dough into two equal pieces. Use the forks to lift one portion of dough onto the clean surface. Using as much flour as necessary from the surface, dust your hands and the exterior of the dough, and shape the mass as best you can into a ball. Repeat with the other half. Let the dough balls rest for 20 minutes without touching.
  4. Dust another clean surface with flour. Transfer one round to the prepared surface and gently stretch the dough into roughly a 10- by 15-inch rectangle. In a small bowl, mix the sugar with the cinnamon. Brush the dough with the egg wash. Sprinkle the dough with half of the cinnamon-sugar mix. Beginning with one short end, roll it tightly into a coil and place it in a greased loaf pan. Repeat with the remaining round. Do not cover the pans. Let the coils rise on the countertop near the oven (or another warm, draft-free spot) for about 10 minutes, or until the top of the dough just crowns the rims of the pans.
  5. Transfer the pans to the oven and bake for 40 to 45 minutes, until the tops are golden brown and firm to the touch. Remove the loaves from the oven, turn them out onto a cooling rack, and let them cool on their sides for 20 minutes before cutting them.
  6. NOTE: To make cinnamon raisin bread, plump 1 cup of raisins in just enough water or rum to cover for 10 minutes. Drain and add them to the flour bowl after whisking the flour, salt, sugar, and yeast together. Toss to coat, and proceed as instructed.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Picholine
  • Amalia Liapis
    Amalia Liapis
  • Oswaldo Izquierdo
    Oswaldo Izquierdo
  • Alexandra Stafford
    Alexandra Stafford
I write the blog alexandra's kitchen, a place for mostly simple, sometimes fussy, and always seasonal recipes. My cookbook, Bread Toast Crumbs is available everywhere books are sold.

48 Reviews

Kelly August 30, 2020
This bread is outstanding. Made only half recipe to see how it would come out before committing to the full recipe. Followed all instructions exactly. It is perfect.
Annette A. May 15, 2020
This is great and easy recipe. Have tried it with spelt flour and part whole grain, raisins, cranberries, Chinese 5 spice powder, and works well-versatile recipe and everyone loves it-esp. toasted.
Genevieve August 12, 2018
Halved the recipe and it worked quite well! Kind of surprised myself with how nice the swirl looked.
I ended up rolling instead of stretching it (not sure how to stretch) into a 10x15, but next time I might turn rolling it a bit narrower, closer to 8” or 9” wide so it’s not squashed in the pan, and longer. Delicious!
Picholine March 10, 2018
Did anyone mention that this recipe asks for 2 1/2 Teaspoons instant yeast and the rapid rise yeast packets I use have 2 1/4 Teaspoons of yeast so I keep a packet extra to measure another 1/4 of yeast out to add to the recipe. Am I wasting my time? Thought the 6 cups of flour would warrant using the extra yeast. Bread perfect every time.
Alexandra S. March 12, 2018
So happy you like this one, Picholine! I think you could probably get away with just using one packet of yeast (2.25 tsp), but you may have to extend the rise times just a bit. For instance, for the peasant bread, I always just use 2 teaspoons of instant yeast, because I buy the yeast in bulk (SAF, 1-lb packs, store in fridge or freezer nearly forever...I think you could get into this :)). Also, when I make a double batch of the peasant bread, I use 3 teaspoons of yeast as opposed to 4, and sometimes I just let the first rise go for 3 hours or until it doubles. Hope this helps!
Picholine February 20, 2018
Made the bread and we love it ! Will make again and again just as I make the NoKnead Peasant bread ! The book has many other recipes based on the basic recipe and I can’t wait to make.
Alexandra S. February 20, 2018
So happy it worked out, Picholine!
Janice February 17, 2018
I just finished eating two warm slices of this beautiful bread (I made it with double the raisins recommended in her book); it is truly phenomenal. The best cinnamon raisin bread I have ever made. The other recipes have not even come close either in taste or ease of preparation. I think it might even be better than my favorite bakery's raisin bread.
Alexandra S. February 20, 2018
Oh, Janice, I'm so, so happy to hear this ... thank you!!
Picholine February 17, 2018
Also wanted to say to Alexandra that I bout your book Bread Toast Crumbs
And I love it! All these bread recipes are in there. I will never need another book on bread again!just wonderful !
Picholine February 17, 2018
Misspelled bought
Alexandra S. February 20, 2018
This makes me so happy!! Thank you :) :) :)
Picholine February 17, 2018
Ive made the no knead bread recipe every week and I love it. I’m confused about the water. First there is 1 Cup of water boiling added to buttermilk and then there is a 1\2 cup of water added? So actually you are adding 1 1\2
Cups water?
Alexandra S. February 20, 2018
Picholine, hi! So sorry for the delay here ... somehow I didn't see these comments till the most recent comment came in. First, yay! And thank you. I'm so happy to hear all of this. Sorry the cinnamon bread recipe was a little confusing. I do the boiling water first to warm up the buttermilk, then add more tap water so that there is the right amount of liquid—1.5 cups boiling water would have made the mixture too hot ... I hope this makes sense!
Dot W. January 15, 2018
This bread was fantastic, the whole family was shoveling large pieces into their gobs! Perfect winter afternoon bake! Even better toasted the next day than warm out of the oven.
Alexandra S. January 15, 2018
So happy to hear this, Dot! Love this toasted with butter (and a pinch of salt) too :)
lugubres December 14, 2017
I've made this bread twice and both times the finished bread is beautiful on the outside but as you taste a piece, the interior parts of the bread is sticky to your teeth ish and does not get "crusty"-like even if I toast it first. What am I doing wrong?
Alexandra S. December 15, 2017
It sounds as though it needs to be baked longer or cooled longer before cutting. Sometimes the breads look beautifully golden from the outside and sound hollow when tapped, but in fact still need time. I never thought I would do this, but I bought an instant read thermometer, and often check my breads now before removing them: they should register 207-210ºF. Does your oven run hot? If so, you could reduce the temperature a bit, or reduce it halfway through cooking and bake it longer. Hope that helps! Let me know if there is anything else.
lugubres December 18, 2017
Thank you for the quick reply. I do use an oven thermometer to check the oven temperature before I put the bread (or other baked goods) in. So is an instant read thermometer the type you use to check meat with a stainless probe and has either a digital or dial-styled temp reading?
Alexandra S. December 22, 2017
That's great — an oven thermometer is so handy, and I find them to be pretty accurate.

Regarding the instant read thermometer, yes, there is a stainless steel probe. This is the one I have: It's a splurge for sure, but it has been worth every penny, especially for bread. Hope that helps!
Jani H. August 26, 2017
this is so delicious ! i've made your peasant bread many times, it always comes out really tasty, so i decided to try the cinnamon. wow, it's even better, or, just different. lighter, sweet and so easy! thank you, Alexandra! my friends think i'm an amazing baker now! lol 😉
Alexandra S. September 2, 2017
So happy to hear this, Jani! This is one of my favorites. So happy you approve :)
Amalia L. June 2, 2017
I halved the recipe to make one loaf last night. The dough was definitely very sticky but then again i did not need to knead it or work it very much. It was concerned about how much moisture was in the dough but it has come out nicely and it did also rise well. I adjusted the sugar in the dough by a bit, next time I think I will leave it as the recipe indicates. The bread seemed a bit heavy when it came out of the oven but tastes delicious.
Alexandra S. June 3, 2017
Great to hear this, Amalia!
Tami May 30, 2017
Do you think you could make cinnamon rolls out of this dough
Alexandra S. May 30, 2017
Hi Tami, I think you could. I think the texture of the rolls might be lighter/airier than typical cinnamon rolls, but I don't think that's necessarily a bad thing. Go for it!
peged April 28, 2017
The written instructions seem to indicate that there is an additional 1/2 cup of water added with the 1 1/2 cups milk and the 1 cup boiling water. Seems this would make the hydration consistent with the base recipe but it is not listed in the ingredients list. Could you please clarify? Thanks!
Alexandra S. April 29, 2017
Peged, yes, the extra 1/2 cup water is not listed in the ingredient list, but definitely add it. Sorry for the confusion!
llbud April 24, 2017
I am an experienced and careful baker. I used the 6 cups of flour and the dough was stick and did not form a ball... I had to add 2 more cups of flour and all was fine and perfect and delicious. The loaves disappeared. Anyone else have this problem?
Alexandra S. April 27, 2017
Hey! Glad to hear you were able to solve the problem with more flour and that you liked the bread in the end. Variations in the stickiness of the dough will definitely occur especially when cups are used to measure the flour versus a scale. Do you happen to have a scale on hand?
llbud April 27, 2017
I do have a scale. I will try next time. I was able to note how tacky it was and amend the flour. --it did take 2 more cups. It still was a huge success. There are only two of us. We ate one the first day and froze the other one. It froze great-- we ate that one 3 days later. Will try scale to see if difference. Thank you. Ps. I prefer this to the Maida Heatter receive, Easy to come together and really delicious toasted with orange marmalade.
llbud April 27, 2017
Oops. I meant to say maida heather receipe. Thanks again
Alexandra S. April 27, 2017
So happy to hear this! I have bags of this bread sliced in my freezer, and I rely on them often, when we're out of bread. I will be curious to hear your experience if you try this again using a scale. I get pretty consistent results when I use a scale, but when the seasons change the dough definitely can be stickier or firmer. So happy you like this one — marmalade sounds delicious! — and thanks so much for writing in.
llbud April 27, 2017
Will do... fyi... my husband does not eat bread at all and he ate 3/4 of a loaf in one sitting and when I finished the rest -- he was destroyed! Thanks again from San Fran.
Alexandra S. April 27, 2017
Haha, I love it :) Success!!
Oswaldo I. April 13, 2017
Dear Alexandra. I made the bread and I am very happy with the results. It is very soft and delicious. Thanks again.
Alexandra S. April 16, 2017
So happy to hear this!
Oswaldo I. April 12, 2017
Thanks Alexandra. I am going to make it
Alexandra S. April 12, 2017
Oswaldo I. April 12, 2017
Dear Alexandra
Thanks for your recipe, the ingredients said: 1 cup boiling water, but in the dough: said in a medium bowl, combine the buttermilk, the boiling water, and 1/2 cup water. I don't understand. Could you explain it to me. Thanks
Alexandra S. April 12, 2017
Hi Oswaldo, you'll use all three liquids: the buttermilk, the 1 cup of boiling water, and 1/2 cup of tap water. The idea of using both boiling and tap water is to get the temperature of the combination of liquids to be room lukewarm, which is ideal for the yeast. Hope this makes sense! Let me know if there is anything else!
X April 11, 2017
By how much can the salt be reduced? I know a certain amount is needed to control the yeast, but this is too much sodium for my family.
Alexandra S. April 11, 2017
Could you do 2 teaspoons? I wouldn't cut back by more than half, so 1.5 teaspoons.
X April 11, 2017
Thanks for your response. That would still be 120 mg of sodium per slice (based on 12 slices per loaf). I guess if we eat only 1-slice servings (that'll be a challenge!) and not every day, we might get away with it.

I know I'll be taking a risk, but I think I'll try your lovely recipe with 1 t. of salt to see if it'll work. I'll use bread flour too; that may help. If I end up with a couple of over-inflated balloons that sink like the Titanic, I'll try it again with 1-1/2 t. of salt.

Baking bread has been really difficult since we had to cut way back on our sodium consumption, especially since we prefer whole grain breads which already have a problem rising without the addition of white flour. Removing most of the salt makes it worse. I've been trying to figure out a successful recipe for years but so far have produced mainly bricks and flops!
Fresh T. April 9, 2017
Love this bread and this book! I've already made, sliced, and frozen the Multigrain Cereal bread for my visiting mother in law. And I've been munching on the Pumpkin Harvest bread.... I can't help it. I try to cut carbs....but not from Ali's bread. I'm not sure which one I'll make next but this cinnamon swirl bread very very high on the list. Congrats on Bread, Toast, Crumbs! It's a fantastic book and very delicious.
Alexandra S. April 9, 2017
Thank you so much, Dana! So happy to hear all of this. xoxo