Recipes: Fill your home with the aroma of cinnamon swirl bread

Show dad or another deserving soul some love with this sweet treat.

Cinnamon swirl bread is a sweet treat for Dad.

If cooking for someone is an expression of love, then baking — especially a homemade loaf of cinnamon swirl bread — must demonstrate utter adoration. That’s just the thing for Dad on Father’s Day, don’t you think? The aroma of bread baking is like a big, warm bear hug, and it’s even better when it accompanies a slab of fresh, tender, just-sweet-enough, just-rich-enough, just-cinnamony-enough bread, as good au naturel as it is toasted with butter or embellished with a swipe of swanky cream cheese.

Cinnamon Swirl Bread

Makes 1 large loaf

Note that you’ll need a standing mixer, an instant-read thermometer, a spray bottle, and a 9-by-5-inch loaf pan for this recipe. Misting the cinnamon sugar to help it adhere is an idea from Cook’s Illustrated.

If the milk is too warm, it could kill the yeast, so make sure it’s within a degree or two of 105 degrees.


If you use instant or rapid-rise yeast, there’s no need to mix it with the warm milk; stir it into the flour mixture before adding the milk and egg.

2/3cup granulated sugar
1/3cup dark brown sugar
tablespoons ground cinnamon
½teaspoon ground cardamom
8tablespoons (1 stick) butter
4cups plus 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour, plus extra for the work surface
1envelope (2¼ teaspoons)
active dry yeast
cups whole milk, heated to 105 degrees
1large egg, beaten
Vegetable oil or nonstick cooking spray, for the bowl and loaf pan

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In a medium bowl, mix the sugars, rubbing the brown sugar to break up any clumps, until sandy. Add the cinnamon and cardamom and stir to mix. Reserve 1 tablespoon of the mixture and set aside. Add ¼ teaspoon salt to the remaining mixture, stir to blend, and set aside.

Cut 7 tablespoons of the butter into ¼-inch cubes; in a bowl, toss with 1 tablespoon of the flour to coat, and set aside.

Sprinkle the yeast over the milk, stir, and set aside until it begins to foam slightly and clump on the surface, about 10 to 15 minutes.

Fit a standing mixer with the dough hook. In the mixer bowl, stir together 4 cups flour and 1/3 cup of cinnamon-sugar mixture. Add the milk-yeast mixture and egg and mix on medium-low speed until a rough but cohesive mass forms, about 2 minutes, scraping down bowl as necessary. Stop mixer and, leaving bowl in place, cover it with a clean kitchen towel or plastic wrap and let it rest for 20 minutes.


Remove towel or plastic, scrape dough off dough hook, remove bowl from mixer, and briefly knead dough by hand to incorporate crumbs at bottom of bowl. Replace bowl on mixer, add 2 teaspoons salt, and mix on medium-low speed until dough is a uniform mass, about 7 to 10 minutes. Adjust speed to low and add the butter cubes a few at a time, watching to see that dough has incorporated them before adding the next few, about 3 to 4 minutes total.

After adding the last butter cubes, adjust mixer speed to medium-low and continue to knead until butter is absorbed completely and dough is smooth and elastic, about 3 minutes longer. Lightly oil (or spray with nonstick cooking spray) a large bowl, add dough, and cover tightly with plastic wrap.

Adjust one oven rack to the bottom position and the second rack to the middle position. Place a cake pan or other shallow dish on bottom rack and add about 2 cups boiling water. Place bowl with dough on middle rack and allow dough to rise until about doubled in volume, about 1 hour.

Lightly oil (or spray with nonstick cooking spray) a 9-by-5-inch loaf pan and set aside. Lightly sprinkle a work surface with flour, turn out dough, and gently press and stretch it to an 8-by-18-inch rectangle, with the short end facing you. Very lightly spray dough with water. Evenly sprinkle the larger quantity of cinnamon-sugar mixture over dough, leaving a 1-inch border on top. Spray sugar mixture lightly with water; it should be damp but not wet over its entire surface. With short side facing you, roll the dough away from you, gently stretching the dough as you work, into a cylinder. Roll cylinder tightly, especially at beginning and end, to help dough and filling adhere when baked. Pinch the seam closed, stretching and folding it over on itself. Stretch the ends toward the bottom of the loaf and pinch end seams closed, continuing to stretch and fold them over toward bottom seam. Place loaf, seams side down, in greased loaf pan, cover loosely with plastic wrap, place pan back in oven, and let loaf rise until it is 1 to 2 inches above rim of pan, about 45 minutes.

Remove risen loaf and water dish from oven and replace water dish with a baking sheet to catch drips; heat oven to 350 degrees. (If end seams of risen loaf have opened, pinch closed and tuck into ends of loaf; see Tip.) Melt the remaining 1 tablespoon butter and brush it over top of dough. Sprinkle evenly with the reserved 1 tablespoon of cinnamon-sugar mixture and bake until top is deep brown and center of bread registers 195 to 200 degrees on an instant-read thermometer, about 45 to 55 minutes. Place pan on a wire rack and cool for 5 minutes. Remove loaf from pan, return it to rack, and cool to room temperature, at least 1½ hours. Slice and serve.


Well wrapped, bread will keep for about three days.

Tip: Closing the Ends of the Loaf

After rolling the loaf and pinching the bottom seam closed, gradually stretch the ends toward the bottom and pinch the end seams to secure them. None of the cinnamon swirl should be visible. If the end seams open after the loaf has risen, pinch them closed again, tucking them into the ends of the loaf.

Apricot-Bourbon Cream Cheese

Makes about 1½ cups

You can use dark or amber rum rather than bourbon in this recipe.

8ounces (1 bar) cream cheese, full or reduced fat, at room temperature
1teaspoon finely grated
lemon zest
¼cup apricot preserves
2tablespoons bourbon
¾cup finely chopped dried

In a medium bowl, beat the cream cheese, lemon zest, apricot preserves, bourbon, and a tiny pinch of salt until smooth and uniform. Add the chopped dried apricots and beat to distribute. Cover the bowl and refrigerate for about 30 minutes for the mixture to firm up a little. Before serving, return mixture to room temperature.

Honeyed Cream Cheese With Chocolate and Raspberries

Makes about 2 cups

8ounces (1 small container) whipped cream cheese, full or reduced fat, or mascarpone cheese, at room temperature
¼cup honey
½cup finely chopped semisweet chocolate
¾cup fresh raspberries

In a medium bowl, beat the cream cheese, honey, and a tiny pinch of salt until smooth and uniform. Add the chocolate and beat to distribute it. Add the raspberries and mix with a fork, lightly crushing the berries but trying to leave some larger chunks. Cover the bowl and refrigerate for about 30 minutes for the mixture to firm up a little. Before serving, return mixture to room temperature.

Adam Ried appears regularly on “America’s Test Kitchen.” Send comments to Follow us on Twitter @BostonGlobeMag.