cinnamon swirl bread cut into slices

If you’re a fan of cozy mornings with a cup of coffee and a slice of warm, buttery bread, then you’re in for a treat. Today, we’re diving into the delightful realm of cinnamon swirl bread, a timeless classic that never fails to bring comfort and joy.

Whether you’re enjoying a lazy Sunday brunch or need a comforting treat on a rainy afternoon, cinnamon swirl bread fits the bill perfectly. Plus, it’s a crowd-pleaser! From kids to adults, everyone adores the sweet, spicy goodness of cinnamon-infused bread. Join me as we explore the ins and outs of crafting this heavenly loaf from scratch.

upclose shot of the swirled bread with cinnamon on a cutting board

Why Cinnamon Swirl Bread?

The combination of soft, slightly dense bread and a sweet, spicy swirl of cinnamon sugar is simply irresistible. It fills your home with the most amazing aroma while it bakes.  It can be great for breakfast as toast, made into cinnamon French toast or even a bread pudding.

How to make Cinnamon Swirl Bread

Before we roll up our sleeves and get baking, let’s gather our ingredients. You’ll need pantry staples like flour, sugar, and yeast, along with cinnamon and butter and an egg. Don’t forget the milk – it’s essential for creating that perfect tender crumb.  Remember, using high-quality ingredients can elevate the flavor of your bread, so don’t skimp on the good stuff.

cinnamon swirl bread slices

All about Yeast!

When it comes to making cinnamon swirl bread, the type of yeast you use can make a big difference in the outcome of your bread. Yeast is a crucial ingredient in bread baking, as it’s responsible for leavening the dough, creating that light, airy texture we all love. But with so many types of yeast available, which one should you choose for your cinnamon swirl bread? Let’s explore the options:

  • Active Dry Yeast: Active dry yeast is one of the most common types of yeast found in grocery stores. It’s usually sold in small packets or jars and needs to be dissolved in warm water before adding it to the dough. Active dry yeast has a longer shelf life compared to fresh yeast, making it convenient to keep on hand for spontaneous baking projects.
  • Instant Yeast (also known as Rapid Rise or Quick Rise): Instant yeast is similar to active dry yeast but has smaller granules and can be mixed directly into the dry ingredients without needing to be dissolved in water first. It activates more quickly than active dry yeast, cutting down on rise times. This can be particularly useful if you’re short on time or want your cinnamon swirl bread ready faster.
  • Fresh Yeast (also known as Cake Yeast or Compressed Yeast): Fresh yeast is moist and perishable, typically sold in small cakes or blocks. It has a shorter shelf life than dried yeast but can provide excellent leavening power and flavor to your bread. Fresh yeast is often preferred by professional bakers for its reliability and performance.

So, which type of yeast is best for cinnamon swirl bread? In most cases, you can use either active dry yeast or instant yeast with great results. Both will give your bread the rise it needs and contribute to that delicious, fluffy texture. Fresh yeast can also be used if you prefer, but keep in mind its shorter shelf life and the need for slightly different handling.

upclose shot of bread

Using Yeast in Cinnamon Swirl Bread:

  1. Proofing: Regardless of the type of yeast you use, it’s essential to proof it properly to ensure its viability. This involves dissolving the yeast in warm water (around 110°F/43°C) with a pinch of sugar and letting it sit for about 5-10 minutes until it becomes frothy. This step activates the yeast and lets you know that it’s alive and ready to work its magic in your dough.
  2. Temperature: Yeast is sensitive to temperature. Too hot, and you risk killing it; too cold, and it won’t activate properly. Aim for water that feels warm to the touch but not hot when proofing your yeast.
  3. Freshness: Check the expiration date on your yeast before using it, especially if it’s been sitting in your pantry for a while. Using expired yeast can lead to poor rise and disappointing results.
  4. Storage: Store your yeast in an airtight container in the refrigerator or freezer to extend its shelf life. This helps maintain its potency and ensures consistent results in your baking projects.

Baking Tips and Tricks for Success:

Baking bread, especially one as decadent as cinnamon swirl bread, may seem daunting at first. But fear not! I’m here to share some tried-and-true tips to ensure your baking endeavors are a resounding success.

  • Start with room temperature ingredients: To achieve the perfect dough consistency, make sure your ingredients, particularly eggs and butter, are at room temperature before you begin.
  • Test yeast by adding a small amount in warm water to ensure that it’s still active. 
  • Knead with love: Don’t rush the kneading process. Take your time to knead the dough until it’s smooth and elastic. This step is crucial for developing the bread’s structure.  Using a stand-up mixer with the dough hook attachment makes kneading easy.
  • Let it rise: Patience is key when it comes to bread baking. Allow your dough to rise in a warm, draft-free environment until it doubles in size. This might take anywhere from 30 mins to 2 hours, depending on the temperature of your kitchen. 
  • Embrace the swirl: When it’s time to roll out your dough and brush with an egg wash then sprinkle it with cinnamon sugar, don’t be afraid to get creative with the swirling technique. Whether you opt for tight spirals or loose waves, each slice will be a work of art.
  • Second rise: The dough must rise twice.  Cinnamon inhibits yeast so the dough will take longer to rise the second time.  Allow about 45 minutes to an hour and a half for it to rise.
  • Cooling: As tempting as it may be to slice into your cinnamon swirl bread the moment it emerges from the oven, resist the urge! Allowing the bread to cool for a bit will make it easier to slice and prevent it from becoming too crumbly.
swirls of cinnamon in bread

Cinnamon Bread Variations:

While the classic cinnamon swirl bread is undeniably delicious, don’t hesitate to get adventurous with your flavors. Here are a few variations to consider:

  • Nuts: Add a generous sprinkle of chopped nuts, such as pecans or walnuts, to the cinnamon sugar mixture for an extra crunch.
  • Fruity twist: Incorporate dried fruit, such as raisins or cranberries, into the dough for a burst of sweetness with every bite.
  • Chocolate indulgence: Who says cinnamon swirl bread can’t be a little sinful? Swirl in some chocolate chips or chunks for a decadent twist that’s sure to satisfy your chocolate cravings.
  • Cream Cheese-Filled Cinnamon Swirl Bread: Spread a layer of softened cream cheese over the dough before sprinkling with cinnamon sugar for a decadent and creamy filling.

Bread Recipes to try

Get the Recipe Cinnamon Swirl Bread


  • 1 tbsp dry active yeast
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 1/2 cup warm milk 110 degrees
  • 4 cups all purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup melted butter + 1 tbsp for brushing

For the filling and egg wash

  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp water
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 tsp cinnamon


  • large mixing bowl
  • small bowl or glass measuring cup
  • Rolling Pin
  • 13 x 5 inch loaf pan


  • Mix milk, sugar and yeast in a small  bowl and let yeast activate for 10minutes.
  • Add flour and salt into a mixing bowl.  Mix to combine then add yeast mixture and melted butter. Knead bread for 10 minutes until dough is smooth and no longer sticky then place in a large, greased bowl and cover loosely with a cloth or cling wrap. 
  • Let dough rise in a warm place for45 minutes or until doubled in size.  Punch down the middle of bread, then turn onto an unfloured surface.
  • Beat egg and water to make the egg wash and set aside. 
  • Mix cinnamon and sugar in a small bowl.
  • To form the loaf, roll dough out to form a rectangle.  Brush liberally with egg wash, then sprinkle with cinnamon sugar. From one end, roll tightly to form a log.
  • Pinch any loose edges to seal in the filling then place in a greased loaf pan. Cover loosely with cling wrap and allow to rise for 45 minutes to up to 1 ½ hour until the bread rises about the pan.
  • While the bread rises, preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  • Remove cling wrap and place into oven and bake for 30-35 minutes until golden brown.
  • Remove from oven and brush the top with melted butter.  After 10 minutes remove bread from the pan and place on a rack.  Allow to cool before cutting.
  • Store at room temperature in a Ziploc bag or airtight container for 3-4 days to preserve freshness.


Author: Jehan Powell