Cinnamon Swirl Bread

Nov 13, 2015

Making yeast bread from scratch is a great project to take on with the kids, especially when the weather turns cold.

There’s the science of yeast—proofing it with warm water and feeding it with a pinch of sugar to ensure it’s alive—plus the fun of punching down, kneading, rolling and baking.

Reading a recipe helps kids with their reading and measuring helps with math.

Baking bread is a perfect screen-free activity for a chilly weekend morning or afternoon, with a delicious reward at the end.

Besides, there's no better potpourri than bread baking in the oven, particularly when it’s warming the house at the same time. Add some cinnamon and suagr and you have the perfect package!

Homemade cinnamon swirl toast is a very good thing on cold mornings and late nights and it's the perfect thing to share with a friend in need of some comfort.

If you and your kids like making homemade gifts for teachers, coaches, friends and relatives, a freshly baked loaf of bread is always welcome: wrap it in a new tea towel and secure with ribbon (with the recipe attached), or tuck it into a basket or gift bag with a jar of nice preserves.

I make most of my regular white sandwich loaves with a dough based on Julia Child’s White Sandwich Bread—my go-to for a good, standard white loaf. To fancy it up with a cinnamon swirl, divide your dough in half, pat each piece into a rectangle and sprinkle with cinnamon-sugar before rolling it up and baking.

If you want to get creative, you could just as easily spread the dough with pesto, or brush it with garlic butter and sprinkle with grated cheese. Once you get the hang of it, use your imagination—kids are great at that.

One night, we made pizza bread by spreading the dough thinly with tomato paste and sprinkling it with Italian herbs and grated cheese.

To make a plain, straight-up sandwich bread, omit the cinnamon-sugar part and just divide the dough between the pans before the second rise and baking.

Plain White or Cinnamon Swirl Bread Recipe

You Will Need:

For The Dough:

  • 2 1/2 cups warm water
  • 1 tbsp. active dry yeast
  • 1 tbsp. sugar
  • 6 1/2-7 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 cup butter, softened

For The Filling (Optional):

  • 1/4 - 1/2 cup sugar
  • a good shake of cinnamon


1. Pour 1/2 cup of water into a bowl (preferably that of a stand mixer) and stir in the yeast and sugar. Let sit for 5 minutes, until foamy. If the yeast doesn’t do anything, toss it out and buy fresh yeast.

2. Add the rest of the water and 3 1/2 cups of the flour to the bowl. Stir until well blended. Add the rest of the flour, the salt and butter and stir with the dough hook (or by hand) until well combined and shaggy. Continue to knead—it will take about 8 minutes in a stand mixer with a dough hook—until it’s smooth and elastic. By hand might take a bit longer.

3. Shape the dough into a ball and put it back into the bowl. Cover with a tea towel and let it sit for an hour or so, until it doubles in size.

Bread dough rising.

4. Butter two 4 x 8-inch loaf pans or line them with parchment paper. Punch the dough down and divide it in half.

5. If you’re making cinnamon sugar bread, pat each piece of dough into a rectangle that’s about 9 x 12 inches. Sprinkle each evenly with sugar and cinnamon.

Bread dough sprinkled with cinnamon and sugar.

Starting at a short end, loosely roll up each loaf, pinching the ends shut. Place seam side down in the loaf pans, tucking the ends in.

6. For plain white bread, just shape each piece into a bundle about the size of your pan and tuck it in.

7. Cover loaves with the tea towel again and leave them for an hour, until they puff right up out of the pan. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 375°F.

8. Bake the loaves for 30-35 minutes, until they’re honey brown. Immediately turn them out of their pans to cool on a wire rack.

2 hot loaves of cinnamon swirl bread, straight from the oven.

Makes 2 loaves.

Article Author Julie Van Rosendaal
Julie Van Rosendaal

Read more from Julie here.

Julie Van Rosendaal is the author of six best-selling cookbooks (with a seventh due out this fall), the food editor of Parents Canada magazine and the food and nutrition columnist on the Calgary Eyeopener on CBC Radio One. She is a recipe developer, TV personality, food stylist and writes about food for local, national and international publications. She is perhaps best known as the voice behind her popular food blog, Dinner with Julie, where she documents real life at home in Calgary with her husband and nine-year-old son. Connect on twitter @dinnerwithjulie.


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