Cinnamon Swirl Bread

Cinnamon Swirl Bread

I have been looking for a really great cinnamon bread recipe for a long time.  If you have ever made a cinnamon bread, you know that its usually rolled up like a cinnamon roll, and baked in a loaf pan.  The cinnamon is either really thin and almost not there, or its a really thick dry layer…or there’s always that one where the middle is overly gooey and it falls apart, rendering it untoastable.  After making 4 different loaves this week, I discovered this recipe from the fine folks of Cooks Illustrated, and America’s Test Kitchen TV Program.  So far, I am in love with it!  Best Breakfast toast I ever ate too!

Cinnamon-Raisin toast was always a special treat when I was a kid.  My  family, we are breakfasters.   We didn’t go out to lunch or dinner much, but we went out for breakfast at least once a week.  Always with my grandparents, sometimes with other family members thrown in for good measure.  We almost always went to the same place, but on occasion, we would go someplace new, and they would have raisin bread as an option for toast.  I ALWAYS wanted it!  And I don’t even like raisins.  Well, ok, I like them, just not by themselves.  And if you add cinnamon, I’m totally there! Ever since I learned how to cook, and bake, Bread has always been my downfall.  Especially when it came to finding a good cinnamon swirl.  And It couldn’t have helped that I made up my own filling recipe and just smeared it on the flattened white bread recipe I had.  What a mess!

But, This recipe, though it may have several steps, is relatively simple to follow, and it’s made in a stand mixer…which saves your counter form too much mess, and having to knead, which I have NEVER been good at.

It utilizes a Japanese style white bread dough called shokupan, Instead of the traditional American white bread recipe.  Its light and soft, airy, but not full of holes.  But that is the easy part.  The assembly is where I thought I was going to get lost, and mess the whole thing up!  Once the dough has risen (twice!) the assembly begins:  Divide your risen dough in half, then:

Cinnamon Bread 2

Roll out half of the dough to approximately 7″ x 18″

Cinnamon Bread 3

Lightly spray your dough with water (use a clean bottle!), and spread half the filling mixture on top.

Cinnamon Bread 4

Then spray it lightly again.  Yes, I know it looks like a mess, it will work, keep going!

Cinnamon Bread 5

Now roll it up!  Make sure to keep the filling inside, or your dough won’t seal.

Cinnamon Bread 7

Pinch the ends first to seal…Pinch pinch pinch!  Then pinch the seam along the side to seal it all up into a log.

Cinnamon Bread 6

Repeat with the second half of your dough, and let them both rest for a few minutes.

Cinnamon Bread 8

Split one log right down the middle with your bench scraper, and turn the cut sides up.

I know it looks scary, but it’s gonna work out.  Think happy thoughts!

Cinnamon Bread 9

Stretch both pieces out until they are roughly 18″, and then pinch them together at one end.

Cinnamon Bread 10

Lift the left piece up, and lay it across the right piece.  You can do this!

Then do it again.

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Don’t forget to pinch the ends together, otherwise you will never get it off the counter!

Repeat with the second log you made, and then plop them in your loaf pans.

Cinnamon Bread 12

Let them rise again, and bake!

Cinnamon Bread 13

Once your loaves are baked, make sure you let them cool.  Burned fingers are never fun.

Cinnamon Bread 14

Cinnamon Swirl Bread
Recipe type: Breakfast
Cuisine: American
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 8
Airy bread with nice cinnamon swirl and golden raisins, adapted from Cooks Illustrated and America's Test Kitchen. It is very important to weigh the ingredients with a scale, but both measures are shown.
  • For the Dough:
  • 8 Tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 3-3/4 cups (20-2/3 oz.) bread flour
  • ¾ cup (2-3/4 oz.) nonfat dry milk powder
  • ⅓ cup (2-1/3 oz.) granulated sugar
  • 1 Tbsp. instant or rapid rise yeast (1 envelope)
  • 1-1/2 cups warm water (about 110° F)
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
  • 1-1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1-1/2 cups golden raisins
  • For the filling:
  • 1 cup (4 oz.) confectioners' sugar
  • 3 Tbsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • ½ tsp. salt
  1. Cut the butter into small pieces (cut in half the long way, turn on side and cut again, and then cut across the stick, making 32 pieces) and toss with 1 tbsp. of the bread flour. Set aside to soften.
  2. In the bowl of a stand mixer, whisk the bread flour, milk powder, sugar, and yeast. Attach dough hook and turn on to medium-low speed, and add water and egg.
  3. Mix with until well combined, scraping down sides if needed (about 2 minutes). Turn off machine, and cover mixer bowl with plastic wrap. Let dough rest for 20 minutes.
  4. Once dough has rested, remove plastic wrap and sprinkle on the salt. Mix on medium low speed with dough hook until dough is smooth and elastic, and does not stick to the sides of the bowl, 7-15 minutes.
  5. With the mixer running, add the raisins, and mix until evenly distributed, about 30-60 seconds.
  6. Adjust racks in oven, placing one on the very bottom, and one in the middle. Place a cake pan or loaf pan on the bottom rack. Boil three cups of water on the stove.
  7. Transfer dough into a large greased bowl, and cover tightly with plastic wrap.
  8. place bowl on middle rack of the oven, and pour boiling water in the pan on the bottom rack.
  9. Close oven and let rise for 45 minutes.
  10. Remove bowl from oven and gently press the middle of the dough to deflate. Fold the sides in on themselves, making 4 folds. Turn the dough over in the bowl and repeat, making 4 more folds, for a total of 8 folds.
  11. Return to oven, and replenish boiling water in lower pan. Let rise another 45 minutes or until doubled in size.
  12. Whisk the filling ingredients together and set aside. Grease two loaf pans, and set aside (non stick vegetable spray works well here).
  13. Deflate dough, and divide in half. Working with one half at a time/
  14. Pat out dough to roughly 6" x 11". With the short side facing you, fold the long sides in like a tri-fold letter, making the dough 3" x 11".
  15. Roll dough out into a long rectangle, approx 7" x 18".
  16. Spray dough lightly with water.
  17. Spread half of the filling mixture (about 2.5 oz.) on the dampened dough, leaving a ¼" on the long sides and ¾" on the short sides to allow for rolling.
  18. Lightly spray the filling with water, and with the short side facing you, roll the dough into a log. Pinch the ends to seal, then pinch the side to keep from unrolling.
  19. Repeat with second half of dough, and allow both logs to rest for about 10 minutes.
  20. Again, working with one log at a time, cut the log in half the long way using a bench scraper or pastry cutter (or knife). Turn the cut sides so they are facing upwards.
  21. Stretch both cut pieces to about 18" Long, and pinch both pieces together at one end. Lift the left piece up and over the right piece, and lay down. Repeat again to make a double twist. Pinch ends together, and place in greased loaf pan.
  22. Repeat with second log.
  23. Put loaf pans on baking sheet and place in oven to rise for 45 minutes. Dough should rise about 1" over top of pans.
  24. Remove from oven and finish rising at room temperature.
  25. Preheat oven to 350° F.
  26. Bake loaves at 350°F, for about 25 minutes, until the crust has turned a nice brown.
  27. Cover loaves with a sheet of aluminum foil, and reduce heat to 325° F.
  28. Bake covered for another 25 minutes, or until center of loaves reach 195-200° F.
  29. Cool in pan for 10 to 15 minutes, and then remove from pans. Let cool on wire rack for at least 2 hours before slicing.
  30. Store wrapped in double layer of plastic wrap for 2-3 days.

Lemon Cream Cheese Breakfast Tart

Lemon Cream Cheese Breakfast 3

As we are about to end Breakfast week, I want to share a recipe that would be great for a special occasion, or a DIY Sunday brunch.  Its rich and buttery, with a nice layer of cream cheese filling on top, and best of all, its make ahead!  I came across this recipe quite a long time ago, and I have made it several times.  Granted, I am not the best at getting the layers perfect just yet, but I wanted to share it with you anyway.

This Lemon Cream Cheese Breakfast Tart is made in two layers, and its really easy! You can literally have this beauty ready to pop in the oven in ten minutes.  It has a nice light lemon flavor in the cream cheese filling, and the cake is flavored with some nice lemon zest, which goes great with all the butter that’s in it.  Yep, this is not diet food.   The only tricky part with this recipe is making the layers.

Lemon Cream Cheese Breakfast A

Spread the first layer in the bottom, super easy!

Lemon Cream Cheese Breakfast B

Spread the cream cheese layer on top of that and bake!

Once its baked let it cool over night in the fridge.

Lemon Cream Cheese Breakfast C

I told you it was make ahead!

Lemon Cream Cheese Breakfast 2 Lemon Cream Cheese Breakfast 1

Lemon Cream Cheese Breakfast Tart

Lemon Cream Cheese Breakfast Tart

Lemon Cream Cheese Breakfast Tart
Recipe type: Breakfast
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 10
Buttery cake, topped with a lemony cream cheese layer, and served cold.
  • For the cake:
  • ⅔ cup (95 grams) all-purpose flour
  • ⅓ cup (65 grams) granulated sugar
  • 2 tsp (8 grams) baking powder
  • ½ Cup (113 grams) melted and cooled butter
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 Tbsp lemon juice
  • ½ tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 Tbsp (6 grams) lemon zest, approx two medium lemons worth
  • for the filling:
  • 8 oz (227 grams) cream cheese, softened
  • 3 Tbsp (42 grams) Melted butter
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp lemon extract
  • ½ tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 tsp lemon zest
  • 1 cup (120 grams) confectioners sugar
  1. Preheat oven to 325° F. Coat 9" spring form pan with vegetable spray.
  2. In a large bowl, beat the cream cheese with an electric mixer until smooth (can also be done in a stand mixer).
  3. Add confectioners sugar and beat until incorporated.
  4. Add egg, both extracts, and lemon zest. Beat until combined, approx. 1 minute. Set aside.
  5. In another large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt.
  6. mix in the melted butter, eggs, lemon juice, vanilla and zest, just until combined- DO NOT OVER MIX!
  7. Pour batter into bottom of spring form pan, and spread evenly on the bottom with offset spatula. Layer will be approx ½" thick.
  8. Carefully pour cream cheese mixture over the top, being careful to leave a ½" of the cake batter visible.
  9. Bake for 35-40 minutes at 325° F, or until a toothpick inserted in edge of cake comes out clean.
  10. Cool, in pan, on wire rack for 10-15 minutes, and then remove the sides of the pan.
  11. Allow to cool to room temperature, then refrigerate over night.
  12. Serve chilled with whipped cram or a sprinkle of confectioners sugar.

Ciambella: Rustic Italian Breakfast Cake


Have you ever wondered what it would be like to eat breakfast in Italy?  I never really thought about it until this week when I was gearing up for Breakfast Week.  While browsing Pinterest for some great breakfast treats, I came across several pins for Ciambella.   Ciambella is a delightfully light breakfast cake: think coffee cake without all of the crumbly streusel topping.  And it is light on the sweetness, so you won’t hit that sugar high, and then crash at 9:00 am when you are sitting down for that meeting.  I saw a lot of recipes for ciambella, and they were all kind of different.  So I thought I would go browsing for some authentic Italian recipes.  As luck would have it (for once!), I stumbled upon an Italian food blog, written in Italian (and containing ingredients I wouldn’t be able to find, perhaps?).  Lucky for us, we live in an age where Google Translate is widespread and often a part of our browsers, I clicked the “translate” button and thought I was in business.  I would be baking my way to some Italian breakfast goodness in no time!  Er…did I say no time?  Yeah, I did.  Too bad I was mistaken. If you would like to see the original recipe in its beautiful Italian form, it can be found here.


As I was reading merrily down the list of ingredients (listed in grams, not cups, because measuring cups are apparently an American thing, at least as far as oz. and dry measure go.  And this was Italy I was visiting. When in Rome!), and I was thinking to myself, “Dude!  you so have this,  you have everything in the pantry you need!”  That was until I got to something called “pane degli angeli”, which translated means “bread of angels”.  What the heck was this???  I had never heard of this one before.  And I listen to food radio and everything!  I got to work searching, and found that they were calling for a brand of yeast.  or was it baking powder?  Hmm… that’s a head scratcher.   Why would they call for something that could be two things?  Why because, they are like us!  If you look back through cookbooks (like the ones that came from community service organizations, or ladies auxiliary clubs), especially from the late 60’s or 70’s, and If you look at your grandma’s recipe box, you will most likely come across at least one o twenty recipe that calls for Oleo.  I don’t know about you, but I know that I have never even seen anything called Oleo in my local grocery store.  Of course, many of us know that it was actually a brand of margarine ( and when I think margarine, I have a magical moment when herald trumpets play, and a crown just appears out of know where, and the demonstration model lady hands me a piece of toast with Imperial spread on it…oops…we are talking about bread of angels aren’t we?).
So as I did some more searching on which one it could possibly be, I found an old discussion board where someone else asked my very same question.  And to make an already rambling story even longer shorter, It should be baking powder.  I checked, and sure enough I had me some of that!

I mixed up this batch of batter…because I had misread, I thought it should have been a little more doughy, but I pushed on.

Ciambella Mixing

What’s the worst that could happen? Fire..that’s the worst that could happen.

Ciambella Batter

But it didn’t.   I, and the kitchen, and the Ciambella made it out alive.

I could smell something nice cooking away about half way through, and I was pleasantly surprised that the batter didn’t spread much at all.

Ciambella Baking

And when it was ready to come out of the oven, I had to fight the urge to pick at it.  It truly was a rustic breakfast cake.  Quite rustic indeed.  And by rustic, I mean free formed.

Ciambella Cooling Ciambella

It’s not quite the prettiest thing I ever made.  But it tastes pretty good!  I have been eating a piece every day this week even.  It goes great with coffee, milk, or juice.  Or a chai latte, Just sayin’.

Ciambella: Rustic Italian Breakfast Cake
Recipe type: Breakfast
Cuisine: Italian
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 12
Lightly sweet rustic Italian cake, intended to be served for breakfast. Translated from the Italian food blog
  • 3 cups (400 grams) all-purpose flour
  • 14 Tbsp (200 grams) unsalted butter, soft
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 cup (250 grams) granulated sugar
  • 1 Tbsp (15 grams) baking powder
  • 1 Tbsp lemon zest (About 1 large lemon)
  • ½ cup whole milk
  1. Preheat oven to 350° F
  2. Prepare a baking sheet bu lining with parchment paper.
  3. In a large bowl, combine flour, sugar, lemon zest, and baking powder. whisk together to combine thoroughly.
  4. Add eggs, and mix until just combined. Add milk and mix until a thick batter forms.
  5. Spread the "dough" even on the prepared baking sheet, to form an oblong shape.
  6. Sprinkle with granulated or sanding sugar to taste.
  7. Bake at 350° F for approx. 30-40 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean.
  8. Cool on baking sheet about 10 minutes, then transfer on parchment to wire rack to cool completely.
  9. Store in airtight container. Lasts approx 4-5 Days


Beet and Carrot Muffins


Let’s take a trip in the way-way-way-back machine.   Okay, not that far back, I wasn’t born in the olden days.  Well, not in my opinion, but don’t ask anyone under the age of 20…they can’t be trusted with age questions.

My grandmother made a cake for special occasions.  My favorite was when she would make it around my birthday.  I absolutely love me some carrot cake, but to my knowledge, my grandmother or my mom ever made one.  Instead we had Beet and Carrot cake, the proper pronunciation of which is “beaten carrot cake”.   Ask anyone in my family.  We are wanted for vegetable abuse in 6 counties.   Its a simple oil cake, made with of course grated carrots, pecans, flour and sugar, but we added beets to it.  That’s the way to eat your beets.  Not in a salad, not boiled next to your soggy peas, and definitely not by themselves.  No, they need some help, and now we gave it to them.  In fact, I would go so far as to say that they are really there for color, because (and I swear on my kitchen aid) you can’t even taste them.  Well, you can, but they don’t taste like beets.

This cake would come out nice and moist, and then two layers stacked on top of each other with a generous amount of coconut frosting (which is basically the same frosting you would put on German chocolate cake, minus the nuts), sealing in all that moist goodness.   I would fight any one of you for the last slice, and my fork is fast, so be ready!

I was hungry this morning, so I thought I would make some muffins, but I didn’t know what kind I should make, and while browsing my favorite Pinterest boards, kept seeing a lot of Morning Glory Muffin recipes.  “Hmm, I wonder how that cake would come out in muffin tins?” I asked myself.  Well, I was a little worried, because we all know how when you take a regular cake batter and bake it in muffin cups, they tend to come out a bit dry.  But what they hay, lets give it a shot.    I had everything I needed but the beets, and luckily beets are everywhere right now, and relatively inexpensive (one big one is more than plenty).   So I went about grating carrots, and my lonely beet (wearing gloves,  I think everyone should take care of their hands, and pink is not my color), and got to work mixing.  I thought I was going to have leftover batter, because I only have two 6-cup muffin pans, and once this cake batter sits, its going to deflate (the cake baked for an hour or longer, so who knows how long til i could get the muffins cooled and out of the cups to try and bake a second batch!), so I went all out and filled the cups to the top GASP!.  I know what you experienced muffin and cupcake bakers are thinking right about now.  But let me just say, I was thinking it too.   Was In for disaster?  would my muffins rise and wet batter drip all over my clean oven???

Nope.  They rose nicely, and made those nice muffin tops (the non skinny jeans variety), with a slightly crisp edge, but a tender crumb that stayed good and moist.  Success!  On the first try!  Horn tooting a-plenty went on, I even did a little jig (no twerking…that would have been scary).  I never get things right on the first go, so let me bask in my own glory success for a minute.


Okay, enough basking in my own glow of baking serendipity.  After taking my first bite of these, with a good pat of softened butter on smeared on for good measure, I skipped right back twenty years (or more…I can’t be certain, it was a long time ago) to my grandma’s kitchen.  I didn’t even make the frosting.  Muffins don’t have frosting (in my world anyway), and it would be breakfast overkill.


So here we go, go make these this morning.  They keep for a week in a airtight container, and they are great to take to the office instead of doughnuts.

Beet and Carrot Muffins
Recipe type: Breakfast
Cuisine: American
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 12
Moist breakfast muffins, not too sweet, and a great way to get some extra veggies in your diet.
  • 1-1/2 cups (290 grams) granulated sugar
  • 1 cup (210 grams) vegetable oil
  • 3 eggs, separated
  • 1 cup (100 grams) grated carrots
  • 1 cup (100 grams) grated beets
  • 2 cups ( 285 grams) all purpose flour
  • 1 tsp (2 grams) ground cinnamon
  • 2-1/2 tsp (6 grams) baking powder
  • 1 cup (120 grams) chopped nuts (walnuts or pecans)
  • pinch salt
  1. Preheat oven to 350° F
  2. In a large bowl, beat egg yolks until light, add sugar and oil, beating to combine.
  3. Sift together the rest of the dry ingredients, being careful not to over mix, stir until combined (batter will be stiff).
  4. Add grated carrots and beets, nuts, and vanilla extract. fold until well combined.
  5. In a separate bowl, beat egg whites to medium stiff peaks.
  6. Gently fold egg whites into the batter, until just combined ( a little streak of white in your batter will be ok).
  7. Prepare a muffin tin by spraying with non-stick spray, or lining with paper liners.
  8. Fill cups to top, and transfer to oven.
  9. Bake at 350° F for 35-40 minutes, rotating pan after about 20 minutes.
  10. Cool in muffin tins for 10 minutes, then remove and cool completely on wire rack.
  11. Store in airtight container.


Breakfast Week!

Now that everything has calmed down in the Real world, and the new year has begun, we are off and running!   I know it has been almost three weeks since my last post, and I promise promise promise to make up for it.

This week all the posts on the old blog will be about my favorite meal of the day: Breakfast!  I know a lot of us are on the go, whether we be mom or dad, single or married, or just late for work.  The recipes I have planned for you are all make ahead, quick, and above all, simple.  We all need a little something in the morning with our drive-thru cup o’joe, and they will all hit the spot, give you something fast to tuck in your lunch bag as a morning snack, or something to nibble while getting ready for work.   These are not your typical muffins or doughnuts, oh no.  One of them is new, one is an oldie but a goodie that you may not know about, and the third is something I found while browsing food blogs this past weekend, and thankfully Google has a translator.  My Italian is non va bene, and I had to track down an ingredient, that turned out to not be hiding but widely available!  Join me on my breakfast adventure this week, and maybe we can learn something about breakfast together!