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Cinnamon Swirl Bread

Nothing is much better than a warm, homemade cinnamon bread around the holidays.  I love waking up on Christmas morning much earlier than everyone else in the house and begin making a batch of cinnamon rolls or warming up some homemade cinnamon bread!  The scent of warm spices and fresh coffee fill the air and everyone knows Christmas has arrived!

For many years, we ordered cinnamon bread from a friend of my aunt's.  Most years, my aunt would gift everyone in the family a loaf of homemade cinnamon bread.  We would slice it and slather it with butter, then toast it for a few minutes to warm everything up.  That was heavenly!  Giving the gift of something homemade puts so much meaning into the season and homemade bread is such a special treat!

Some folks like their cinnamon bread with raisins and you can definitely add them to this dough or filling; however, I am not a huge raisin fan, so I leave them out.  My family loves this bread just the way it is.

The dough is pillowy and tender and the filling is sweet and caramel-like with the delicious taste of cinnamon.

Making homemade bread can be intimidating at first.  I know because I avoided making bread for years, but it is actually so much easier than you think.  It just takes a little patience because you have to wait for the dough to rise.  This recipe is so easy and forgiving, it is hard to mess it up!

Ingredients

(Makes 2 large loaves or 4 small loaves)

2 cups warm water, not hot but should be warm to the touch

6 teaspoons dry active yeast

1 tablespoon sugar

 

½ cup sugar

6 tablespoons oil

3 teaspoons salt

6 cups flour (all purpose)

 

For the filling:

1 1/2 cups brown sugar

2 tablespoons cinnamon

1 cup butter (softened to room temperature)

Directions

  1. In a small bowl, combine the sugar and cinnamon and set aside.

  2. Place the butter inside a small dish and set aside to soften.

  3. In a small bowl, combine the water, yeast and 1 tablespoon sugar.

  4. Allow this to sit for about five minutes.  When you see foam on the top, you will know the yeast is alive and working.  If this does not happen after about ten minutes, the yeast is not alive and you will need to start over.

  5. In a large mixing bowl, combine ½ cup sugar, flour, oil and salt and gently stir around to disperse everything evenly.

  6. Add the yeast mixture.

  7. Using a stand mixer with the dough attachment, combine everything for 3 minutes.  Check the dough to ensure it is coming together well.  If the dough is still sticking to the sides of the bowl, add just a little more flour (1/4 cup at a time) and incorporate well.  Turn the mixer back on and allow this to turn the dough for about five more minutes.

  8. Pull the dough out of the mixing bowl and form into a ball.  If the mixture is still sticky, just dust it with flour and knead a few times on the counter-top while adding just enough flour to make the dough workable.  The idea here is to have a soft, pliable dough that is still nice to work with and not too tough.

  9. Place the dough into a very large greased bowl.  Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and place in a warm area of your kitchen to allow it to rise.  I usually place it inside my oven that has not been turned on.  This keeps it away from cooler air while the dough rises.

  10. Allow it to rise for about 1 ½ to 2 hours until the dough has doubled in size.

  11. Remove the plastic wrap and use your fist to punch the dough down, removing all the air.

  12. Turn the dough out onto a floured work surface and divide in half.

  13. With half of the dough, use a rolling pin to roll the dough out into a rectangular shape.  This should be about the size of a 9x13 baking pan.

  14. Spread half of the butter onto the dough.  You may need to use your hands for this.

  15. Sprinkle half of the cinnamon/sugar mixture of the top and press down with your hands so that it sticks to the butter.

  16. Begin rolling the dough from the longest side similar to the way in which you would a cinnamon roll.

  17. When you have it rolled up, use your fingers to pinch the dough together at the seam.

  18. Tuck the ends of the dough under a bit and pinch so that the cinnamon mixture does not seep out while baking.

  19. Gently pick up the dough and place inside a buttered loaf pan. 

  20. Use a little of the butter to spread on top of the loaf, then sprinkle a little of the cinnamon and sugar mixture over the top.

  21. Cover this with plastic wrap and repeat the same process for the other half of the dough.

  22. Place the pans in a warm location to rise for about 1 ½ hours or until it has doubled in size.

  23. Bake at 350 degrees for about 40 minutes.

  24. If you are unsure whether the bread is done, you may gently lift it out of the pan and thump on the bottom.  If it sounds hollow, it is completely done.

  25. Allow the loaves to cool for a few minutes, then remove from the pans.

  26. Cool completely before covering for storage.

  27. This bread is awesome heated up in the toaster with a slather of butter on top!