Cinnamon Raisin Swirl Bread

As soon as I feel that fall chill in the air, I get a major urge to bake bread.  All kinds of bread.  Rolls, loaves, baguettes, etc.  I love the smell of the yeast as the dough rises, the wonderful aromas that fill the house as the bread bakes and of course, getting to enjoy the finished product warm from the oven.  At least for me, cinnamon raisin swirl bread is one of those foods that immediately brings me back to my childhood.  Despite the fact that it always came from a store bought loaf, a piece of cinnamon raisin toast spread with a thin layer of butter was a special breakfast treat.

I’ve made a few different versions of this recipe in the past, but this one finally has everything I’ve been hoping for.  A tender, lightly spiced dough with a sprinkling of plump raisins, and a cinnamon sugar filling that oozes out of the swirls while the bread is still warm.  I only made one loaf, but this recipe can be easily doubled to make an extra loaf for freezing or gifting to a friend.  If you still feel intimidated by working with yeast, this is another recipe that would be good for a beginner.  Remember, there is nothing to be scared of, it just like following any other recipe.  Hopefully the step-by-step photos will also help you feel more confident.  Let’s get cozy and bake some bread!

Cinnamon Raisin Swirl Bread
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Yield: 1 9 x 5-inch loaf
For the dough:
1 1/8 tsp. instant (rapid rise) yeast
1 cup warm milk (105-110˚ F)
17 oz. (3¼ cups) all-purpose flour
4 tbsp. unsalted butter, at room temperature
¼ cup sugar
1 large egg
1¼ tsp. coarse salt
1½ tsp. ground cinnamon
½ cup raisins
Vegetable oil

For the filling:
¾ cup sugar
1 tbsp. ground cinnamon
2 tbsp. water
1 egg, lightly beaten

In the bowl of a stand mixer*, combine the yeast, warm milk, flour, butter, sugar, egg, salt and cinnamon.  Mix briefly until a dough forms.  Switch to the dough hook and knead on low speed until the dough is mostly smooth and clears the sides of the bowl, about 3 minutes.  Add in the raisins and allow to continue kneading about 3 minutes more, until the dough is smooth and supple and the raisins are evenly incorporated.

Transfer the dough to a lightly oiled bowl, turning once to coat.  Cover the bowl with plastic wrap or a clean kitchen towel and let rise in a warm place until doubled in bulk, about 1 hour.

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface.

Pat into a round.

Fold the bottom third of the dough up and fold the top third down, in business-letter fashion.

Then fold the right and left sides into the center in thirds, forming a rectangle. Press down to seal.  Return to the bowl, cover and let rise again until doubled, about 40 minutes.

Generously butter a 9 by 5-inch loaf pan.  To make the filling, combine the sugar, cinnamon and water in a small bowl and whisk until well combined.  Return the dough to a lightly floured work surface.

Roll the dough into a 10 by 12-inch rectangle.  Brush lightly with the beaten egg.

Sprinkle with the cinnamon-sugar mixture, leaving a thin border around the edges.

Fold in the edges of the long sides of the dough about 1 inch.

Beginning with one of the short ends, roll the dough up into a tight spiral log, gently pressing as you go.

Pinch the seam shut, and place the loaf seam side-down in the prepared baking pan.

Cover loosely with plastic wrap or a clean towel and let rise until the dough rises just above the edge of the pan, about 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 425˚ F.  When the loaf has risen, brush the top of the loaf lightly with the remaining beaten egg.  Bake, rotating the pan halfway through, until the loaf is golden brown, about 45 minutes.  If the surface seems to be browning too quickly, tent loosely with foil (I did this halfway through baking).  Cool in the pan 5 minutes, then turn the loaf out and transfer to a wire rack to cool completely before slicing.

*This dough can be made by hand and a stand mixer is not required.  Mix the dough ingredients in a large mixing bowl and once the dough comes together, knead on a lightly floured surface until the desired texture is achieved.

Source: Martha Stewart’s Baking Handbook

49 Responses

  1. This is one of my favorite breads too. I’ve made variations with whole wheat dough and as baguettes or rolls too and they’re delicious – I recommend it.

  2. Yum! That looks beautiful and I’ll bet it tastes delicious. I am not afraid of yeast dough at all, but the rolling/folding process would have been difficult to understand without all of the pictures. Thank you for that. My daughters love to try new bread recipes with me, and this will be our next one for sure.

  3. Oh gosh – we WISH we had some of that right this moment to slather with butter and devour for breakfast!

  4. This reminds me that shortly after my daughter was born, one of the parents at my husband’s school made us (by which I mean me because Steve was banned from eating any) a loaf of cinnamon raisin bread. As much as I appreciated all the dinners that people brought, I LOVED the breakfast things and homemade bread tasted like a hug every morning. I actually cried when it was gone! Thanks for the recipe – now once I’m done nursing and can eat wheat again (oh, the things we do for our babies), I’ll make a loaf for old time’s sake!

  5. Cinnamon raisin bread is the best bread hands down! Yours looks too good to be true…yummy!

  6. Oh wow that look wonderful. I love how much cinnamon filling you’ve got – its almost oozing out

  7. This.

    I NEED this in my life right now.

  8. I’ve only made cinnamon raisin bread in the breadmaker before, but I am definitely going to try this version. It’s one of my favorite breads! I’ve had success with the herbed focaccia & soft garlic knots over the past week, so I’m feeling a little more comfortable with yeast. 🙂

  9. This looks great Annie! I’ve noticed that you use pastry mats. Is there a particular brand you prefer that works best?

    • I only tend to own one at a time, so I don’t know about various brands. My main requirements are that they be non-skid and have both round and straight measurements on them somewhere.

  10. That bread looks gorgeous. Excellent photos too. I finally understand the “business letter” fold, thank you! Every time I’ve had to do it I’ve been confused. I think every cook should try a recipe like this, it is really wonderful to work with a dough and get such great results. This dough looks like it can handle some variations too, which I will definitely try. Thanks again.

  11. I love cinnamon raisin bread and I have this recipe bookmarked on her cook book (among other things!), and I am glad to see that it turned out for you! I may have to make it this weekend 😉

  12. this looks wonderful! it would make a great breakfast. i’ll definitely be trying this recipe soon 🙂

  13. Those step by step photos are really helpful. I’ll have to give this recipe a try. My dad loves cinnamon raisin bread!

  14. This looks excellent!
    I get so confused though, because I saw this on PW’s site the other day with no citation as if she made it up, but then you have it here with a source and it looks pretty much the same to me. Like to see the original source, though! It looks really good and I’m glad you showed the steps, too! (and how great would this be turned into French toast???)

    • Cara, I looked at PW’s recipe and hers is pretty different. A quick look at the quantities of ingredients will tell you that, plus that fact that it doesn’t include raisins. However, this has been a big problem in the food-blogging world lately (people posting recipes without a source, as though it were their own creation even though it is a well-known, popular recipe shared all over the place). I can’t be responsible for anyone else, but I always cite sources whenever possible.

      • I finally remembered to look for your reply! I don’t understand the point of pretending like things are your own (like you said is a big issue in food blogging) if they’re not, though. Thanks for clarification!
        I am making this today and am pretty excited to make French toast out of it on my day off Thursday!!

      • I totally agree, I don’t understand it either. Maybe some people think no one will notice but I always do. Anyway, enjoy! I just pulled some of this out of the freezer for breakfast this morning. Delish!

  15. Mmm, cinnamon raisin bread is my favorite bread to bake come fall. Thank you for reminding me – I had almost forgotten about it I don’t know what’s better, the smell it creates in your house or the first bite!

  16. This bread looks SO MUCH better than store-bought, and I’m SURE it is! Beautiful and yummy! Great tutorial too!

  17. I love cinnamon raisin bread this time of year – just made some last month!

  18. This bread is picture perfect! This is the perfect time of year to enjoy cinnamon raisin bread!

  19. I love working with yeast and am always looking for interesting recipes with it – what a GORGEOUS loaf of bread, Annie!

  20. Annie, this looks heavenly!

  21. That is one beautiful looking bread

  22. Saving this post. The recipe looks great. Your photos are guaranteed to help out when I attempt it. Thanks so much!

  23. This is a favorite of ours and I just finished making it. My filling was very runny. Did you use a full 2Tbls of water? I am new to making bread and have never made cinnamon bread so I just wanted to check. Thanks, I love your blog!

    • Yes, I did and it was oozing out after cutting. I liked it that way. You can just let it cool before slicing if it bothers you.

  24. I bought a cinnamon raisin swirl loaf earlier this week and as I was standing in the check-out I thought to myself, “I should probably just make this instead of buying it..” and here you are with a recipe! I’ll definitely try this out. Thanks!

  25. Am i reading this wrong, or are there triple rising here? Ur bread looks yummy, i love the wet filling oozing out!

  26. Hi! Your recipes look sooo delicious!! I would love to try them sometime!!

  27. Nice to have found you, beauuuuuuuuutiful blog!!! Congratulations!! I love cooking aswell. xxx

  28. This looks SO good!! Definitely going to try this minus the raisins!!

  29. I too have done just that last year bread for the world bread day and I find it wonderful! like your blog, I did not know yet …

  30. I tried this and LOVED it. My family devoured it! Do you know if this is the type of dough you could refridgerate at some point that then take it out later to rise and bake? Would you have to stall it at the first rise, or could you do it at a later stage. Just curious. Thanks.

    • I haven’t tried it myself. Usually the fridge isn’t adequate to stop the rise and you would have to freeze it at that point. I find that most yeast breads, etc. are great if you freeze them after baking and then thaw and rewarm later. Basically, they are as good as the day you freeze so if you freeze fresh they still taste great. With loaves, I slice before freezing.

  31. Hi Annie – I love your website and it has launched my life into a cooking and baking frenzy! My husband, friends and coworkers are loving it. I have a quick question regarding this recipe which looks absolutely delicious! When I tried making this recipe the dough was too sticky, so after the first rise when I was folding it, it was a mess! I don’t know if it’s because I live in New England, but do you think I should add more flour in the first step until it is not so sticky in the mixer? Bread is the one category I am struggling with and it’s driving me crazy. Thanks for the help!

    • Yes, sounds like you needed to add more flour. The amount of flour will vary depending on humidity and also whether you measured by weight or volume (weight is much more accurate). The texture you want is tacky but not sticky, and I address this issue in a little more depth in my post on soft garlic knots.

  32. This recipes is wonderful and the bread turns out beautiful. Flavor brings back childhood memories of visiting my grandma. My only problem was that it browned too quick for the middle to cook, meaning the middle was still a bit raw. I will try lowering the temp to see if that works for cooking the middle and slows the browning process. I mixed it all by hand and am not sure if that had anything to do with the sagging in the middle. Please let me know what you recommend to see if that will work for me. Oh and I added some crushed pecans to the filling, it was the perfect touch to keep it from being too sweet, GREAT RECIPE!

  33. This has got to be the best cinnamon swirl bread i ever had(and made), it tastes so yummy with all that oozing, melted, cinnamony sugar spilling out of it. Didn’t last an hour in my home. Its pure heaven. Thanks annie for the wonderful recipe.This is a keeper!! =)

  34. Help! I have made this bread twice now and it tasted delicious both times, however my bread did not rise either time. I decided to bake it anyway just so it didn’t go to waste and the bread came out very dense. I made sure that i followed the recipe exactly both times but something just isn’t right with my bread. It did not look light and airy like yours. Any suggestions? Thanks!

    • Are you measuring your flour by weight rather than volume? Most likely you are adding too much, creating a dense loaf. Also, if your dough isn’t rising properly you may need new yeast or you may just need to let it rise longer. The rising times in the recipe are guidelines but you really need to see the indicated rise before moving on to the next step. Be sure you are using instant (rapid rise) yeast, since you can just mix that into the recipe as indicated. If you use active dry, you have to let it proof first.

  35. I just made this and it tastes delicious, but for some reason I lost my swirl! The cinnamon sugar just absorbed into the bread, which isn’t all bad 🙂 I’ve made many a swirl bread before, but none with the step of adding water to the cinnamon sugar. Still a delicious bread and now I will have to investigate further. Maybe only 1 T next time. Thanks for another great recipe, Annie!

    • I used both tablespoons and so have a few other people, and no one else has had a problem. Better luck next time!

  36. Your bread is gorgeous! I love how the crust browned. The step by step photos are nice to see too.

  37. This was awesome! The gooey cinnamon sugar inside reminded me of cinnamon rolls – delicious! I featured this recipe on my blog

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