Another reason to go on living: Cinnamon Swirl Bread

Scripps Howard News Service

Editors: This story is for print use only. Must credit Minneapolis Star Tribune

With photo/graphic: SH12I210CINNAMONBREAD


Minneapolis Star Tribune

Simple pleasures often catch us unawares. They're unexpected delights, the little flourishes that bring a sudden smile. Slicing into a loaf of bread and finding a swirl of cinnamon curlicuing through its crumb is one of those pleasures. And trust us, making this treat really is simple, thanks to an easy trick.

Cinnamon Swirl Bread is made to be toasted, the scent of warmed spices mingling with the aroma of morning coffee. But the bread also is an inspired choice for a sandwich with good Cheddar cheese, either plain or grilled. A school-lunch sandwich with a swirl can be the hit of the cafeteria table. Chicken salad is a natural pairing for such gently spiced slices.

Using a filling, of course, presumes that the cinnamon and sugar swirls through the bread without creating a gap. Even popping a slice in the toaster is easier when the slice holds together.

To increase the likelihood of gap-free bread, you will need to help the sugary mixture meld to the dough. While bakers instinctively brush everything with butter, water is the secret ingredient here. Brushing the rolled-out dough with water helps create a bond between the cinnamon-sugar mixture and the dough.

To further ward off crevices, we also take care while rolling up the dough to make sure that the "top" of the cinnamon mixture sticks as well. This is simply a matter of brushing away any excess flour clinging to the dough as we roll it and brushing the curving edge of the dough with more water.

The folks at Cook's Illustrated suggest misting the dough with a spray bottle, but we found that using a brush is just as easy; you can even just use your hand, patting the dough with dampened fingers.

Final tip: Make sure that you roll up the dough with even pressure to create a cylinder with no slack. The result should be uniform slices that can't help but inspire a smile as a knife reveals the bread's simple pleasure.


Makes one 9-inch loaf.

1/2 cup granulated sugar

1/4 cup light brown sugar, tightly packed

2 tablespoons ground cinnamon

1-1/4 cups milk

3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled

2 egg yolks

3-1/2 to 4 cups all-purpose flour

2-1/4 teaspoons (1 envelope) instant or rapid-rise yeast

1-1/2 teaspoons salt

Water for brushing

In a small bowl, mix together both sugars and cinnamon. Set aside.

Warm the milk to 110 degrees. You can do this by placing the milk in a microwave oven for 30 seconds on high power. Whisk warmed milk with melted butter and egg yolks until thoroughly combined.

In the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with a dough hook, mix together 3-1/2 cups flour, yeast, salt and 1/4 cup cinnamon-sugar mixture.

With the mixer on low, slowly add the milk until the dough comes together. Increase the speed to medium-low and continue mixing until the dough is smooth and elastic, about 8 minutes. If, after 4 minutes, the dough remains sticky, add the remaining flour, 2 tablespoons at a time, until the dough pulls away from the sides of the bowl but sticks to the bottom.

Turn out the dough onto a lightly floured surface and shape into a smooth, round ball. Place the dough into a large, oiled bowl, then flip it so the oiled surface is on top. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place until doubled in size, about an hour.

Grease a 9- by 5-inch loaf pan.

Turn out the dough onto a lightly floured surface and roll or pat into an 8- by 10-inch rectangle with the short side facing you. Brush the surface of the dough lightly but evenly with water, then sprinkle evenly with the remaining cinnamon-sugar mixture.

Begin rolling the dough into a tight cylinder, using your fingers to wipe away any excess flour and brushing the leading edge of the dough with water as you go. Pinch the seam closed and place the loaf seam side down into the prepared pan.

Cover with a clean dishtowel and let rise in a warm place until almost doubled in size. This may take anywhere from 45 to 75 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Bake for 50 to 60 minutes, until golden. Let the loaf cool in the pan for 15 minutes before flipping it out onto a wire rack to cool completely.

Nutrition information per slice (12 to loaf):

Calories 235; Fat 5 g; Sodium 310 mg;

Carbohydrates 43 g; Saturated fat 2 g; Calcium 58 mg;

Protein 5 g; Cholesterol 40 mg; Dietary fiber 2 g.

Diabetic exchanges per serving: 2 bread/starch, 1 other carb, 1 fat.

-- Adapted slightly from "The America's Test Kitchen Family Baking Book"

(Email kim.ode(at)startribune.com.)

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