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.

Cinnamon Bread 11

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.