Growing up, I remember thinking a slice of bread smeared with butter and dusted (heavy-handedly) with cinnamon-sugar was the most amazing thing since, well, sliced bread. Then I discovered cinnamon-raisin bread! A slice of bread with built-in cinnamon-sugar swirls and bonus raisins. Are you kidding me?!
I recently started to venture into yeast bread (for some reason, they’ve always intimidated me). After some trial and error and long overdue research, the intimidation dissipated. I knew, for nostalgia purposes, I had to dive in and create my own cinnamon-raisin swirl bread recipe. The best part, it is easy to make. Just a few ingredients, a couple of hours for rising time, and you’ll be enjoying delicious slices of cinnamon-raisin goodness.
Lean vs. enriched bread dough:
There are many variations of cinnamon-raisin swirl bread recipes out there. You can pretty much use any variation of a standard bread dough recipe and get a decent loaf of bread. But for this one, to get a deliciously tender, soft, rich bread, we will use an enriched dough.
So what is the difference between lean and enriched dough?
- A Lean dough is low in sugar and has little to no fat. The main ingredients being flour, water, salt, and yeast.
- Whereas enriched dough has the main ingredients of lean dough and generally contains a higher amount of fat, sugar, and eggs.
Cinnamon-raisin swirl bread ingredients
Just 9 ingredients, some patience, and a little technique are all this recipe requires to successfully make a beautiful homemade cinnamon-raisin swirl bread loaf.
- Flour: you can use all-purpose or bread flour without needing to adjust anything in the recipe. With either flour, you will get a great loaf of bread. However, if you have the means to, I highly recommend bread flour. It creates a much chewier, tender, and more flavorful bread because of its higher protein and gluten content.
- Yeast: you can use either active dry or instant yeast. The difference is how they are incorporated. Active dry yeast must have a liquid to activate the yeast. In comparison, instant yeast is added directly to your dry ingredients. The directions for this recipe were developed using active dry yeast.
- Sugar: this feeds the yeast and also helps to make a more tender dough. You will need two types of sugar, granulated sugar for the dough and powdered sugar for the filling.
- Salt: crucial for flavor. Not only because salt enhances flavors but because it slows down the rising process. Slower rising equals more developed flavors.
- Eggs: used to tenderize the dough, provide color, and assist in the rising process for softer and chewier bread.
- Butter: impacts the finished flavor and texture. Butter is used instead of oil to give a richer end flavor.
- Milk: you can use whatever milk you have on hand, but I recommend using full-fat milk because it helps to produces a softer and richer loaf of bread
- Raisins: you can’t have a cinnamon-raisin swirl bread recipe without raisins. But, they are completely optional, so you can keep them out if you don’t like them (gasp).
- Cinnamon: the main event for getting that beautiful swirled middle.
Overview: how to make cinnamon-raisin swirl bread:
Make and knead the dough:
This recipe uses a stand mixer and a dough hook to make and knead the dough for simplicity purposes. However, you can still make it by hand. It just takes a lightly floured work surface, 10 minutes, and a bit of arm strength. Just make sure not to add too much flour. If working by hand and it becomes too tacky, let the dough rest for about 10-15 minutes to allow the liquids to absorb.
Cover and let rise:
After you’ve kneaded the dough, grease the bowl with butter or oil, place dough in a medium-large sized bowl and cover with plastic wrap or a towel, place in an area that is not drafty, and let rise at room temperature.
Make the filling:
Many recipes use a combo of cinnamon, granulated sugar, or brown sugar. To make a tighter swirl and keep it from separating, you will whisk together powdered sugar and cinnamon. Powdered sugar tends to get clumps, so I recommend sifting the mixture to remove them.
Punch down dough:
This releases some of the gas bubbles produced in the rising process and creates a finer bread crumb.
Shape and roll down into a 8x20 rectangle:
The size and length of your rectangle will determine the amount of swirl in your finished bread loaf. This recipe makes a slightly larger bread loaf, so I recommend a larger rectangle.
Brush with egg and dust with Cinnamon-sugar:
Like the sugar type used in the filling, the binder you use to brush onto the dough will impact the swirl's integrity. Brushing with an egg instead of butter creates a much firmer binding between the dough and the filling. You can use butter, which does give it an added richness of flavor.
Roll dough into a loaf:
This is where a little bit of technique comes in. To get a swirl that isn’t going to fall apart, you want to make sure that it is rolled as tightly as you can. Starting with the short side, rollover about 1 inch to get the swirl started. Roll another 1-2 inches and then pull back towards yourself to create tension. If you have ever rolled a sleeping bag, it is a similar movement. Roll, pull back, creating tension, and continue rolling and pulling back every couple inches until you get to the end. Pinch and seal the dough.
Let rise about 1 hour:
In a greased loaf pan, place your dough and let rise. It will have risen about ½ -1” inch above the edge of the pan when it is done.
Brush dough with egg & bake for 30-35 minutes:
Brushing the dough with an egg before baking is optional. It does help with the crust's overall appearance once it is baked, giving it a shinier and crispier crust.
Tips for keeping cinnamon-raisin swirl bread from separating:
Your bread is out of the oven, you’ve patiently waited for it to cool, and you cut in to find little gaps between the swirls. While this won’t make your bread any less tasty, it can be frustrating if it looks like it is falling apart.
Why is this happening?
- During the 2nd rise, the yeast creates gases that allow your bread to rise, but these gases can get caught in the spiral layers.
- During the baking process, steam is being generated and pushes into the swirl layers, causing gaps to form from the pressure.
How do you prevent this from happening?
- The type of binding agent
- The type of sugar
- The tightness of the roll
In this cinnamon swirl bread recipe, an egg is used as the binding agent, and powdered sugar is used as the preferred sugar for the filling. This is because the protein in the egg creates a strong adhesive once it dries. Simultaneously, the starch and smaller sugar granules from the powdered sugar allow less steam to be created once the sugar heats up during the baking process.
Finally, the tightness of the roll plays a large factor as well. It is important to roll as tightly as you can. As mentioned in the previous section, the technique is similar to rolling a sleeping bag. Roll, pull back, create a bit of tension, and continue rolling and pulling back every couple inches until you get to the end.
How long does cinnamon-raisin swirl bread last:
There’s nothing like freshly baked bread, but if for some reason you have leftovers, it's best within the first 1-2 days. Serve sliced as is or toasted and topped with salted butter (my personal preference).
Your bread can also be stored at room temperature, firmly wrapped in plastic or foil to block air and prevent from going stale, for 3-5 days.
If you are not planning on eating it immediately, you can store it in the freezer for up to 1 month. To freeze, I recommend wrapping tightly in plastic and a layer of foil.
Recommendation for uses of leftover or stale cinnamon-raisin swirl bread:
- Bread pudding
- French toast
- French toast bake
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If you end up making and enjoy this delicious cinnamon-raisin swirl bread recipe, please consider tagging @nightowlsbakingco on Instagram and leaving a review below.
Cinnamon-Raisin Swirl Bread
- Total Time: 3 hours 35 minutes
- Yield: 1- 9x5 inch loaf 1x
This homemade cinnamon-raisin swirl bread recipe yields a soft, tender, and chewy bread and the structure to cut without it falling apart.
- 1 c Milk, Whole Fat
- 2 ¼ tsp Active Dry Yeast (1 packet)
- ¼ c Sugar
- 3 c Bread flour, spooned and leveled.
- 1 tsp Salt
- 1 Egg, room temperature, and lightly whisked
- 3 Tbsp Butter, melted
- ¾ c Raisins
- 6 tbsp Powdered Sugar
- 1 tbsp Cinnamon
- 1 egg, whisked for brushing
- Bring eggs to room temperature
- Prepare 9×5 loaf pan by greasing with oil or butter.
To make the dough:
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook, add yeast and sugar.
- Heat milk to 100° - 110°, about 30 sec in the microwave, and pour into the bowl with yeast and sugar. Set aside and let sit for 5-10 minutes to activate the yeast and make sure it is alive. It should look bubbly on the surface.
- Add all remaining ingredients to the bowl (melted butter, whisked egg, bread flour, salt) but not the raisins.
- With dough hook attachment, set mixer to medium-low and let run for 7 minutes.
- Add in raisins and keep running for 3 more minutes.
- After 10 minutes of kneading dough in the mixture, the dough should come together into a smooth ball around the hook; some sticking on the bottom is ok. The dough should be slightly tacky to the touch but not sticky. If the dough is sticky, let it rest for 15 minutes for the liquids to absorb.
- On a flat surface, lightly dusted with flour (no more than 1 tsp) and shape into a ball.
- Grease the mixing bowl with oil or butter, making sure to get all of the sides.
- Add dough to the greased bowl and coat both sides of the dough with the oil/butter on the sides of the bowl. After the dough has been coated, place the ball smooth side up. Cover with plastic or a towel at room temperature for 1-1.5 hours or until doubled in size.*
To make the filling:
- In a small bowl, whisk together powdered sugar and cinnamon. Whisk egg and set aside.
To assemble cinnamon-raisin swirl bread:
- Grease a 9×5-inch loaf pan and set it aside.
- On a lightly floured surface, punch down the dough and roll it into an 8x20 rectangle.
- Brush egg onto the dough, leaving about ½ inch border.
- Using a sifter, sprinkle filling evenly over the dough.
- Starting with the short side, tightly roll dough into a log. Rolling and pulling tension back on the dough every couple of inches to ensure that the roll is tight.
- Place dough in a greased bread loaf, cover, and let rise for 1 hour or until the dough has risen slightly above (~½-1 inch) the edge of the loaf pan.
- Preheat the oven to 350° and brush the top of the dough with whisked egg.
- Bake for 30-35 minutes or until the internal temperature of the bread reaches 200°
*Dough rises best at 80-90°. If it is a cooler day, place covered dough in the oven while it is off and turn the oven light on.
- Prep Time: 3 hours
- Cook Time: 35 minutes
- Category: Dessert
- Method: Baked
Keywords: raisin bread, cinnamon swirl bread, cinnamon raisin bread, cinnamon swirl bread
So great!! Basically instant gratification as far as enriched doughs go. Started it at 3:00pm and had it ready for dessert.
I only had ap flour, so I used that and it turned out fine. Love that the egg/butter content is relatively low compared to a brioche type dough while still resulting in a rich, tender, SOFT loaf. YUM!!
Brushed a mix of softened butter and maple on top (can never make myself "waste" an egg on egg wash) and it was beautiful and added a sweet crisp to the crust. I just needed to tent with foil for the last 10 min of baking to avoid burning it.
I think this is my new go-to for cinnamon raisin bread!
So happy to hear, thank you!! I love the brushed butter and maple addition too.
After searching through dozens of cinnamon raisin recipes, I have decided to try this one. I enjoyed your research tidbits! I've been baking for 40 years and did not know some of this stuff. Thank you!
Thank you so much for trying!!
I read your recipe and it is very similar to one I have been using for several years now. I use 3/4 cup each of raisins and dried cranberries which I soak before using and use that water in the recipe. I triple it, (my family, all grown now, love it). I spray my rolled out dough with water, which is meant to prevent the gap in the swirl. I found your suggestion for powdered sugar and tried that which worked even better. I sifted the sugar and once mixed with the cinnamon, used a tiny sieve to shake it over the dough. I sliced into it today and there was absolutely no gap. I used bread flour and it was lovely and high. Thanks for the great tip about the sugar!
Thank you so much for your comment! I’m glad to hear the powdered sugar tip worked.