Cinnamon Swirl Bread

November  9, 2010
4 Ratings
Photo by Bobbi Lin
  • Prep time 3 hours 30 minutes
  • Cook time 1 hour 10 minutes
  • Makes 1 loaf
Author Notes

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. 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). My bread dough is adapted from The American Home, December 1965. —Amanda Hesser

What You'll Need
  • 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 cups sifted all-purpose flour, plus more as needed
  • 2 large 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° F 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.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  •  Elena Stancheva
    Elena Stancheva
  • ZombieCupcake
  • susan g
    susan g
  • BettyAnnQ
  • Droplet
Amanda Hesser

Recipe by: Amanda Hesser

Before starting Food52 with Merrill, I was a food writer and editor at the New York Times. I've written several books, including "Cooking for Mr. Latte" and "The Essential New York Times Cookbook." I played myself in "Julie & Julia" -- hope you didn't blink, or you may have missed the scene! I live in Brooklyn with my husband, Tad, and twins, Walker and Addison.

21 Reviews

Ceege October 3, 2016
Can someone give me advice. I tried this recipe twice. It did not raise much either time. My yeast was not out-dated (in fact the second time I went and bought fresh the day before baking). The first time I used my bread dough hook for kneading and it did not rise. The second time I kneaded it for 10 minutes by hand and that did not rise. I really wanted this recipe to work as I remember my grand-mother making cinnamon bread often and thought I could duplicate her delicious treat. If anyone has any suggestions, I will keep trying until I get it right.
Amanda H. October 3, 2016
Hi Ceege,
Thanks for your note. I'm puzzled by this because I've made this a number of times, including recently (we re-photographed the bread this summer and the one you see in the first photo is what I made with the yeast amount in the recipe), and the yeast has always worked. What I've been working on -- and plan to publish once it's perfected -- is improving the filling. The only thing I can think of that may have caused the yeast not to work is if the milk wasn't cooled before adding it to the liquids. I'm sorry I don't have a clearer answer for you.
hungry.jen February 16, 2016
Is 5 -5.5 cups of flour right? Most bread recipes I have seen call for 3- 4 cups for one loaf.
Amanda H. February 17, 2016
Yes, this is correct.
Allison January 23, 2016
From the most recent comment (and reply), it sounds like this was supposed to be edited so that the filling does not contain butter, but it still calls for 6 tbsp of butter (and butter for the topping, which sounds like it was the cause of the smoking). Was this supposed to be changed?
Elena S. December 10, 2014
This is the first time I've made this recipe and here are my comments. I used just under 5 cups of flour and I had this bread rise like nothing I've ever seen before incredibly light and airy. While this doesn't sound like a problem at all, I am wondering if I could possibly split the dough into two smaller loaf pans because mine (I used a 9- x 5- x 3-inch loaf pan) was nowhere big enough. I am also wondering if I could perhaps bake this in a Dutch oven instead of a loaf pan? In addition, I'd like to add that I should have rolled the dough several times as I didn't get a distinct swirl pattern. The filling was beyond delicious, by the way, and although it leaked into the pan a bit (a result of not rolling the dough tight enough?), it formed the most amazing sugary buttery crust on the bottom of the loaf. And last, but not least, has anyone else had the issue of the sugar and butter on top of the bread melting down and smoking while baking? I had a cookie sheet on the bottom rack that caught the drippings but the heat of the oven was enough to make those drippings smoke profusely. Overall, this is a must make again recipe, super delicious!
Amanda H. December 27, 2014
Elena, thanks so much for your detailed notes. I've been meaning to retest this and edit the recipe -- I met the owner of Breadzilla and she tipped me off to a mistake I made in the recipe: there's no butter in the filling, just cinnamon and sugar. The butter is what's causing the leaking and smoking -- and I suspect it makes the finished bread a little heavier than it's supposed to be. I
I definitely think you can split this into 2 smaller loaves or bake it free form in a Dutch oven. Thanks again for your thoughts, and I hope to get this reposted in the next month.
Foodie52 December 4, 2014
Thank you for such a lovely recipe! I substituted the cinnamon filling with with a sweet black sesame filling (1/2 cup ground sesame, 5 TBS salted butter and 1/4 cup of sugar), and it's so delicious! The dough is so beautiful.
Amanda H. December 27, 2014
This sounds like a terrific variation -- thanks!
Maggi December 19, 2013
I am hoping you can help me. I have made this bread twice, and everyone loves it. But I'm not sure I'm doing it right. The dough is so dense and while it rises a little the first time, I think it would be generous to say it doubles in volume. I use a Kitchen Aid mixer to knead the dough and have added all the flour suggested. And the first time I burned the top, so this last time I followed the instructions to remove it from the oven with it taps hollow and it was grossly undercooked. Can you offer this inexperienced baker some tips?
Amanda H. December 19, 2013
I'm glad you wrote in about this -- one suggestion I would make is to cut back on the flour to 5 cups. This should make for a less dense dough. I'm not sure why the loaf is burning on top -- one thought would be to lower your oven rack so the bread isn't near the top of your oven, and let it bake for longer. Also, I've been meaning to tweak this recipe. I'll make it over the holidays and let you know if I have any new changes.
ZombieCupcake February 18, 2013
I have made this more times then I can remember do add a couple things just to try something different, But always a hit. This recipe you have is amazing and always consistant.
Amanda H. March 3, 2013
thanks, ZombieCupcake!
megken_ December 23, 2012
Have made this recipe a few times now and will continue to do so! This bread is sturdy enough to not mush when cut and yet remains moist and light. And it looks like the picture, every time.
susan G. October 21, 2011
I love that photo -- it makes me smile every time I see it!
BettyAnnQ October 12, 2011
Great recipe for fall and the coming colder days. Question: Can I add raisins & nuts ? Or will it weigh down the dough?
BettyAnnQ October 12, 2011
Great recipe for fall and the coming colder days. Question: Can I add raisins & nuts ? Or will it weigh down the dough?
teamom August 21, 2011
I started baking when I was young (and, my son says, the dinosaurs roamed the earth). I loved making cinnamon swirl bread. I had found a recipe that has one spread the dough with butter, sprinkle on the cinnamon, then dot the dough with sugar cubes. The roll starts out lumpy, but the cubes mainly melt during baking. The bonus is when one is not completely gone, so you get a good crunch every-so-often. I made this often for my kids (and the neighborhood kids - their mothers never baked), and suspected that more sugar cubes went into their mouths than in the bread. Good memories.
Amanda H. August 26, 2011
Thanks for sharing this.
Droplet July 5, 2011
I love the slightly lofty upper crust on your bread, Amanda. Those old magazines have some nice recipes in them for those willing to search.
Amanda H. July 6, 2011
Thanks -- and I agree, love old magazine recipes!