This braided cinnamon bread is basically a homemade cinnamon roll, split and braided into an attractive loaf. Toast slices of it in the morning and spread with soft butter, or try using it for french toast!
Cinnamon bread is delicious. Just a fact. But did you know that it’s also pretty simple to make?
Making this braided cinnamon bread is a great way to spend a cozy weekend morning when you’re not in a rush. Yeast takes time – that’s part of the charm of making raised doughs and breads. But don’t let yeast intimidate you. Once you understand a few basic things, I promise you will make successful baked goods that rise beautifully.
First of all, mix your yeast with warm (but not hot) water – about 90-110 F. Use a thermometer at first so you get the hang of what this temperature feels like. It’s basically a little warmer than body temperature. Yeast needs warmth, but you can actually kill it if your water is too warm.
Second, make sure your liquid yeast mixture is active and bubbling before you move on with your recipe. If you look close, you will see little bubbles moving. You can even hear it stirring! This can take 10 minutes or so to happen, so be patient. If you want to use instant yeast instead of active dry yeast, the process will be quicker, and your breads will rise a little faster, too.
Another good thing to know is how to tell when your dough is properly proofed. “Proofed” just means risen. A good test is the “fingerprint test”. When you think your rising dough might be close to ready, give it a gentle poke with your finger. If the dough springs right back, it isn’t ready yet. If it springs back about halfway, but remains slightly indented, it’s perfect.
Now, if the indentation stays put and doesn’t bounce back at all, it’s unfortunately over-proofed. But don’t let that get you down. Just proceed with the recipe anyway. It will probably still turn out ok, just a little denser and less fluffy. Learn from your mistakes and do better next time. That’s what working with yeast is all about. It’s a process of trial and error.
Ok, ready to make this lovely braided cinnamon bread?
In this recipe, you basically make a homemade cinnamon roll. You roll it up in the usual fashion, jelly-roll style. Then, you slice in down the middle lengthwise, which exposes all those beautiful inner layers. Twist it up in a simple braid, let it rise for a second time, and bake it until golden. The outcome looks impressive, but it’s very simple to twist up.
I thought about glazing this loaf, or making a traditional cream cheese frosting. However, I decided it didn’t need anything extra. Just a cup of dark coffee and little bit of soft butter to go alongside it. A little dusting of powdered sugar did add some elegance, though. Feel free to add some icing as you see fit.
One more thing: if you want to have this braided cinnamon bread ready earlier in the morning, try making the dough the night before. Put the dough in your greased bowl, cover with plastic, and place in the fridge. This way, it will rise slowly overnight. In the morning, proceed by making the filling and rolling out your rectangle. Now you only have to wait for the dough to rise once.
Alright, I hope you’re feeling confident about working with yeast! Go make yourself a delicious loaf of bread and enjoy a slow, cinnamon-scented morning.
And, happy 2018!
Braided Cinnamon Bread*
This beauty is basically a homemade cinnamon roll, split and braided into an attractive loaf. Toast slices of it in the morning and spread with soft butter, or try using it for french toast!
- 1/2 cup whole milk
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 3/4 tsp salt
- 2 1/4 tsp active dry yeast (1 package)
- 1/2 tsp sugar
- 1/2 cup warm water
- 1 egg room temperature
- 3 cups flour
- 2 tbsp salted butter melted
- 2 ounces (1/2 stick) salted butter melted
- 3/4 cup brown sugar
- 1 tbsp cinnamon
- pinch salt
for the dough:
In a small saucepan, warm the milk with the salt and 3/4 cup sugar. Heat until sugar dissolves but before milk comes to a simmer, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat and allow to cool slightly.
In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine yeast with warm water and 1/2 tsp sugar. Stir thoroughly to dissolve yeast. Let stand about 10 minutes. Mixture should be foamy and producing small bubbles.
Add egg; stir well with wooden spoon to combine. Add slightly cooled milk mixture and stir until blended. Place dough hook on stand mixer and begin mixing on low while gradually adding flour. Start with one cup, then add a few tablespoons at a time. You may not need the entire 3 cups. Dough should begin to release from sides of bowl but still stick to the bottom. Knead on medium for about 5-7 minutes, adding a little flour here and there as needed. Dough should be elastic and slightly sticky.
Place dough in a well-greased bowl; turn over to coat. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and let stand in a warm area to rise until doubled - about 1 hour or so.
Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Roll into a rectangle, about 12 x 9".
for the filling:
Melt butter in a small saucepan. Combine sugar & cinnamon in a small bowl.
Brush melted butter evenly over dough, avoiding outer 1/2 inch. Distribute cinnamon-sugar mixture evenly over melted butter.
Roll up, beginning at long end of rectangle, as tightly as possible. Pinch seams together to adhere. Using a bench scraper or sharp chef's knife, slice roll lengthwise, leaving about an inch at the top still connected.
Gently braid by twisting the two halves over each other repeatedly**. At the end, pinch the pieces together and tuck up underneath the braid slightly to form a nice rounded end. Lift carefully and place braid into a greased 9" loaf pan. Cover again with plastic and let rise until doubled, about another hour.
Preheat oven to 350 F.
Bake until deeply golden brown and baked through, about 22-27 minutes. Allow to cool at least 15 minutes before removing from pan. Serve warm with coffee and soft butter.
Loaf will keep at room temperature, wrapped in plastic, for 2-3 days.
*Recipe slightly adapted from Go Bold With Butter
**When I rolled up my rectangle, my cinnamon roll ended up being so long that I decided to cut it in half crosswise first. Then, I cut both halves lengthwise. This way, I ended up braiding 4 pieces together instead of 2, which added further marbling in the bread. You could consider doing the same for the added effect (however, it is much tricker to braid with 4 pieces!)