Cinnamon Swirl Bread
As a mom, one of the concepts I teach on repeat to my eldest is sharing. At two years old, my daughter already knows when she’s done wrong by refusing to share her toys, snacks, or even love and affection with others. I don’t expect her to master such a skill for quite some time, but I keep pushing her to do so, recognizing that learning to share from an early age will only benefit her.
We adults, though…. man, we really suck at sharing sometimes. We love to make things all about ourselves, and often withhold love, time, energy, and tangible items from those around us who want to share in it. I know that degree of selfishness is all over my life, so I’m thinking I can’t possibly be the only one, right?
This blog is intended to be a platform for sharing. Of course I want to give you recipes and ideas, tips and techniques, how-to’s and pretty photos to look at. But I also want to share thoughts. I want to give you encouragement and laughter and joy via words on these pages, and although I’m sure I’m not always successful in that, I wouldn’t dare quit trying. What use are your passions if you don’t share them with someone? What use are your gifts if you don’t give them away?
So, a challenge to you: share with someone today. Spend yourself on someone else. Volunteer, give a compliment, go the extra mile. Share a coffee, a lunch table, or ANYTHING. Whatever it looks like, just share. I don’t think you’ll regret it.
And speaking of sharing, let’s talk about this cinnamon swirl bread. I have to tell you that my message on sharing comes with the most selfish of motives. A long time favorite of mine is the cinnamon swirl bread from Edgar’s Bakery here in Alabama. It’s perfect, and if you’ve had it, you know why I’m raving about it. A girlfriend of mine asked them for the recipe, and I have questioned them for tidbits on the bread on countless occasions, but CAN YOU BELIEVE THEY DIDN’T SHARE IT WITH ME?? Ok, that’s sarcasm. If I had that recipe and was willing to bake and sell to the masses, I would retire early and spend the rest of my days baking those sweet baby angel loaves for anyone who would buy them from me.
I have spent months trying to get the filling on this bread right. MONTHS. I’m talking at least 15-20 test bakes. The end result is worth it. This cinnamon swirl bread is filled with butter, sugar, eggs, and probably even a few handfuls of pixie dust, because it is straight up magical. Similar to a babka, the dough for this bread is moist, buttery, and a bit stringy while being mixed up. After an initial rise, we roll it out super thin and spread it with a cinnamon sugar schmear that, if it weren’t entirely weird, I would consider scrubbing all over my bod. A few rolls, twists, and a rise later, the bread is popped in the oven until it’s dark, golden and fragrant enough to scent your entire home.
This cinnamon swirl bread is the most delicious thing that I know how to make. It’s not the easiest thing I know how to make, but you can bet every bag of sugar at the grocery store that it’s the tastiest. If you have free time this week, I really think you should make this bread. Read through the instructions carefully, set out enough time for the rising of the bread, and plan on being patient with the process. The end result is life changing delicious, and you’ll be glad you have an extra loaf to stick in the freezer. You can do the extra kind thing and share your second loaf with a friend… but even I might be selfish enough to save it for myself. No judgement.
Happy Tuesday, Happy Baking, and Happy Sharing! Cheers to you!
- 3/4 cup warm milk (not hot or cold)
- 1/2 cup plus 2 teaspoons sugar
- 3 teaspoons active dry yeast
- 3 1/4 cups (about 1 lb) all-purpose flour, with more for flouring surfaces
- 2 eggs
- 1 egg yolk, white reserved
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 3/4 teaspoon salt
- 10 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 8 tablespoons melted butter, slightly cooled
- 1 cup brown sugar
- 6 tablespoons sugar
- 2 tablespoons cinnamon
- 2 tablespoons flour
- pinch of salt
- 1 egg white
- 1 egg, lightly beaten with two teaspoons of water
- parchment paper
- In the bowl of a stand mixer, stir together the warm milk and 2 teaspoons of sugar. Evenly sprinkle the yeast over top of the milk and allow the yeast to activate, about 5 minutes. The mixture should froth and foam slightly. You can stir it gently to make sure all the yeast has been moistened, but if the yeast does not foam, dump it out and start over. Once yeast has been activated, beat 1/2 cup of the flour in to the milk mixture using the paddle attachment. Once combined, add the remaining sugar, eggs, egg yolk, vanilla, and salt, and beat the mixture on medium speed until combined. On low speed, add the remainder of the flour, 1/2 cup at a time, scraping the sides of the bowl as needed. Once evenly combined, increase the speed to medium (I use speed number 4 on my Kitchen Aid stand mixer) and add the softened butter 1 tablespoon at a time. Scrape the sides of the bowl and then continue to beat on medium speed for an additional 4 minutes. The dough will be quite moist and sticky, and will hold together in long strands when you attempt to scoop it from the bowl.
- Lightly grease a large bowl and place the dough inside, covering it tightly with a piece of plastic wrap. Allow the dough to rest until it has approximately doubled in size, about 1-1/2-2 hours. Once the dough has nearly doubled in size, prepare the filling.
- Combine the cooled, melted butter, sugars, cinnamon, flour, and salt, stirring until combined. Add the egg white, stirring just until combined. You will use approximately ½ cup of filling for each loaf.
- Once the dough has doubled in size, line 2 loaf pans (8 1/2" x 4 1/2" x 2 3/4") with parchment paper. Cut two sheets of parchment paper- one to fit the pan lengthwise and one to fit widthwise- with some extra paper to hang over the sides.
- Generously flour your work surface and rolling pin. Prepare your egg wash by whisking together the egg and water. Set aside.
- Gently punch the dough down into the bowl once and divide the dough in half. Take one half of the dough and lay it on your floured surface. Generously dust the top of the dough with flour as well. Using your rolling pin, roll your first piece of dough as evenly as possible into a 22"x10" rectangle. (I even use a ruler!) You may need to re-flour your work surface if the dough begins to stick. Using a pastry brush, lightly paint the outside 1/2" edges of your dough with your egg wash. Spread half of the filling (about ½ cup) evenly inside the egg wash border.
- Standing with one of the long edges closest to you, begin to tightly roll your dough away from you, forming a 22" long roll of dough. Gently pinch the dough together at the seam to seal the filling inside the roll.
- Spread about 1-2 tablespoons of filling on the top of the roll of dough and then fold it on top of itself, forming an 11” long folded roll of dough. Shape the loaf, by pulling the ends of the dough roll together to form a "U" shape. Twist the two ends over each other twice to form a figure 8 shape and tuck the end pieces under the dough. Place your rolled loaf in one of the prepared pans and repeat the entire process with the remaining half of dough. Once both loaves have been formed, cover again with plastic wrap and allow to rise again for about 1-1/2-2 hours. The dough should rise about 1/2-1" over the top of the pans. Do not let them over-rise.
- When the dough is nearly risen, preheat the oven to 350 degrees and brush the remaining egg wash over the tops of the loaves. Bake in the preheated oven for about 40 minutes, or until the tops are a dark golden brown and no longer squishy or underbaked looking. Look especially for underbaked parts in the creases of the twists on top of the loaves. Allow to cool in the pans on a cooling rack for about 20 minutes and then remove from the pan to cool completely.