Category Archives: cinnamon

Cinnamon Swirl Bread

Of all the myriad ways I describe myself and what I do, “bread baker” has consistently been pretty low on the list. I have gotten pretty good with cakes and cookies and even pie, but bread still isn’t an area of my expertise.

Cinnamon Swirl Bread

That said, I’ve been slowly getting into bread-making since the start of the pandemic. I didn’t jump on the sourdough starter train or anything (seemed like a huge waste of flour at the time), but I tinkered with no-knead recipes and have since posted two English muffin breads and a dreamy, decadent cheese bread. Today though, I’m tackling one of my favorite things in all of bread-dom, classic Cinnamon Swirl Bread.

Cinnamon Swirl Bread

Oh yes, I have loved Cinnamon Swirl Bread as far back as I can remember. Paired with butter or peanut butter, it was my dad’s go-to “feed the kids” breakfast when I was little, and it’s one of my many go-to “feed yourself before your blood sugar drops further” meals at the ripe age of almost-37. A few weeks ago, I tried my hand at making Cinnamon Swirl Bread at home and it turned out so well! Soft, buttery, cinnamon-scented and perfect for toast.

Cinnamon Swirl Bread

Cinnamon Swirl Bread is super simple to make and can be put together in about 4 hours. That may seem like a lot, but with two rises and an hour of baking time, the active prep is a little more than 30 minutes.

The base recipe is exactly the same as the one I use for cheese bread—it’s soft and buttery, like a brioche. It comes together in minutes and is soft, pliable and so satisfying to knead. Let it rise once, then roll it out like you’re making cinnamon rolls and scatter it with cinnamon, sugar, and a little flour before rolling it up for a second rise. Flour in the filling may seem strange, but it lends some structure here so that the cinnamon swirl keeps its definition through the second rise and baking time. I can’t take credit for this brilliant tip—shout out to the fine folks at King Arthur Flour.

Cinnamon Swirl Bread

This bread needs nearly an hour in the oven, until it’s tall and deep brown and smells outrageously delicious. If you want a perfect swirl for toasting and all, you should probably let your Cinnamon Swirl Bread cool completely. I know that’s a big ask and you’re probably (justifiably) going to ignore it, but someone might revoke my newly-minted bread baker card if I don’t say it.

Cinnamon Swirl Bread

But for real, if you’re not at least tempted to tear into this like a wild animal, we might fundamentally misunderstand each other.

That’s okay, though. More Cinnamon Swirl Bread for the rest of us.

Cinnamon Swirl Bread
Cinnamon Roll Bread
makes one loaf

Dough:
2 3/4-3 cups all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 packet (2 1/4 teaspoons) instant yeast
1 teaspoon fine sea salt
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 cup whole milk
1 large egg, room temperature

Filling:
1/3 cup granulated sugar
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon all-purpose flour

For Finishing:
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

Make the dough. In a medium-large mixing bowl, whisk together 2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour, sugar, instant yeast, and salt. Set aside.

In a small saucepan over medium-low heat, melt butter and milk together until just warm to the touch, about 95-110 degrees.

Crack the egg into a small mixing bowl. Whisking constantly, add the butter/milk mixture in a thin stream until completely combined. Add mixture to the dry ingredients and fold together. A shaggy dough should form and be pulling away from the bowl. Gradually add flour in 2 tablespoon increments until the it pulls away a bit.

Turn dough onto a floured surface and knead 5-6 minutes, until smooth. Gather dough into a ball and place it in an oiled bowl, making sure to get a little oil on all sides. Stretch some plastic wrap over the top and allow dough to rise in a warm, draft-free environment for 45 minutes to 1 hour or until doubled in bulk.

In the meantime, heavily grease a 9x5-inch loaf pan with butter.

Mix the filling. In a small bowl, use a fork to whisk together sugar, cinnamon and flour. Set aside.

Flour a surface and a rolling pin. When the dough has risen, punch it down and turn it out onto the surface. Roll it out to an 11x14-inch rectangle (about 1/8-inch thick). Sprinkle the filling over the entire surface of the dough, leaving 1/2-inch bare on all sides. Starting from a short edge (an 11 inch edge), tightly roll the dough into a cylinder place it in the prepared pan. Cover pan loosely with plastic wrap. Let loaf rise in a warm, draft-free place for 45-60 minutes, or until it peaks over the top of the pan. If you poke it with your finger, the dent should remain.

Meanwhile, set an oven rack in the central position. Preheat oven to 350F.

When loaf has risen, remove and discard the plastic wrap. Bake loaf for 50-55 minutes, tenting the loaf with foil if it is getting too dark. Test for doneness with a skewer—if it meets any resistance or comes out with dough on it, bake in five minute increments until neither of those things happens. To test for doneness with a thermometer, insert the end into center. If it reads at 190F or above, it’s done.

When the bread is done, brush the entire top with melted butter. Let cool in the pan for 15 minutes before turning it onto a rack to cool completely.

Slice bread thickly and enjoy warm or room temperature, or use it for toast. Cover and refrigerate any leftovers for up to a week.

Banana Crumb Muffins

Internet, meet my freezer stash of bananas. Freezer stash of bananas, meet the internet.

Banana Crumb Muffins​

These brown bananas have been taking up space in my freezer since Christmas and it’s time to clear them out for…well, honestly, probably more brown bananas. The cycle continues, but that’s beside the point.

(The point is to bake good things with bananas, obviously.)

Banana Crumb Muffins

Of all the things you can make with sad bananas, none will ever beat banana bread/muffins. I’ve posted several recipes for both over the years, and while they all have their strengths, I think these are my best effort yet.

I’ve been making this particular recipe weekly for nearly a year now; the people I work for love banana muffins. I make them with bananas from their freezer stash, throwing them in the microwave for a minute or two while I prepare the other ingredients, then squeezing the fruit into a bowl and mashing it to smithereens.

I throw 1 1/2 cups of chocolate chips into the batter for work, but lately I am more interested in coffee cake-style crumb topping. I love its crispy texture and pop of buttery cinnamon flavor—it really takes these otherwise plain banana muffins to another level.

Banana Crumb Muffins are easy to make and really delicious. The batter is very straightforward—nothing out of the ordinary—and the crumb is just whisking some melted butter into flour, brown sugar, cinnamon and salt until, well, crumbly. Break it up with your fingers and distribute it over the muffin batter, then bake until brown and a little craggy.

Banana Crumb Muffins

As with most banana baked goods, these are good the day they’re made, but great with a little time. That said, good luck keeping them around for more than a day or two.

Banana Crumb Muffins
Banana Crumb Muffins
makes 14-16 muffins

Crumb:
2/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/3 cup light brown sugar, packed
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
pinch of Kosher or sea salt
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted

Muffin Batter:
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup light brown sugar, packed
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
3/4 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
2/3 cup buttermilk, room temperature
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted
2 large eggs, room temperature
3 large very ripe bananas, mashed

Preheat oven to 425F. Grease or use muffin liners in 14-16 cups of a standard muffin tin. Fill the remaining cups 1/3-1/2 of the way with water (to keep the pan from warping in the oven). Set aside.

Make the crumb. In a small bowl, which together flour, brown sugar, cinnamon and salt. Add melted butter and whisk until everything is saturated. It should be the texture of damp sand, holding together when pinched. Set aside.

Make the muffin batter. In a small bowl, whisk together flour, brown sugar, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt. Set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together melted butter and buttermilk, followed by eggs and mashed banana. Add dry ingredients. Use a silicone spatula or wooden spoon to fold ingredients together just until combined. Batter will be thick.

Divide batter among prepared muffin cups, filling nearly to the top. Tap full pans on the counter 5 times to release large air bubbles. Scatter crumb over the top of the filled cups and press down lightly with your fingers to adhere.

Bake 5 minutes. Reduce temperature to 375F and bake another 15-16 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Let muffins cool in the pan for at least five minutes before removing to a rack to cool completely. Serve. Leftovers will keep covered at room temperature for a couple of days, but may be refrigerated for up to 5.

Cinnamon Raisin English Muffin Bread

Cinnamon Raisin English Muffin Bread

If you’ve never had English Muffin Bread, you’re in for a treat. It’s got all the craggy cornmeal-edged goodness of a quality English muffin, but baked into a loaf that you can slice as thick as you like and toast to golden perfection! It’s wildly easy to make—no proofing yeast or kneading, and only one rise *in the pan*—and it’s so good that I actually really love doing multiple tests on it. Don’t mind me over here packing my freezer with sliced English Muffin Bread. Nothing to see here!

Cinnamon Raisin English Muffin Bread

My recipe for plain/classic English Muffin Bread can be found by clicking here. Please treat yourself to a loaf or two, heavily toasted with lots of butter, and then come back for this Cinnamon Raisin version.

Yep, that’s right. Cat’s out of the bag. I’m a raisin person! I like them in cookies, carrot cake, and a chicken stew my mom makes, among many other things (though never with or when I am expecting chocolate). I am sure this is a giant waving red flag for some of you, but we all have our flaws, and mine is that I enjoy the occasional raisin-speckled baked good. I like dried grapes and I like them in stuff and I’m not going to feel bad about it, okay? Okay.

Cinnamon Raisin English Muffin Bread

If you are not a raisin person, I’ll get you with the next recipe, but this one’s for my fellow raisin enthusiasts and me. Because we know what’s good, and thickly-sliced, craggy, deeply toasted Cinnamon Raisin English Muffin Bread with butter is very good. It’s pretty outstanding with peanut butter, too, if that’s more your speed. I usually go with one slice each way—a single piece of toast is rarely enough.

Cinnamon Raisin English Muffin Bread

My favorite part of this recipe? It takes exactly the same amount of time and effort as plain English Muffin Bread, which is to say…not very much. You’ll need all of 10 minutes to measure, stir together and divide the recipe into two loaves, an hour to rise over the top of the pan and 30 minutes to bake. The absolute most important part of this whole process is not slicing into the baked bread until it’s completely cool. Just don’t do it! The bread needs the cooling time to set its hole structure, and will be dense, gummy and otherwise weird if you slice it while it’s warm. Resist the intoxicating smells of fresh bread and cinnamon! It’s for your own good. Your breakfast’s, too.

Cinnamon Raisin English Muffin Bread
Cinnamon Raisin English Muffin Bread
makes 2 loaves

For the pans:
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
3-4 tablespoons cornmeal

Bread Dough:
5 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (or bread flour)
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons Kosher salt
4 1/2 teaspoons (2 packages) instant yeast
1 cup raisins
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
2 2/3 cups warm water

For proofing:
plastic wrap
oil, butter or cooking spray

For serving:
butter
peanut butter

Grease 2 9x5-inch loaf pans with butter. Add cornmeal and rotate pans so that the entire insides are coated in a thin layer. Tap out and discard excess cornmeal.

In a medium-large mixing bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, cinnamon, baking soda, salt and instant yeast. Stir in raisins.

In a large liquid measuring cup (or other vessel) whisk together melted butter and warm water. It should be warm to the touch (90-110F) but not hot.

Whisk/stir wet ingredients into dry ingredients in two installments. Stir until a sticky, shaggy dough forms and flour is coated, then stir an additional 30 seconds to make sure things are saturated.

Grease your hands, then divide dough into prepared pans. Grease 2 pieces of plastic wrap. Lay them loosely over the top of each loaf pan.

Place pans in a warm, draft-free environment for 45-60 minutes, or until the dough has risen just above the tops of the pans. While dough is rising, preheat oven to 400F.

When dough is ready, gently peel off and discard plastic wrap. Dough may seem a bit wet and jiggly. Gently place pans in the oven and bake for 25-30 minutes, or until golden all over. The interior temperature should be at least 190F.

Immediately turn bread out onto a rack. Let cool completely so crumb structure can set. Do not slice into bread until it is completely cool.

Slice and toast before serving with butter, peanut butter, or your topping of choice. Leftovers will keep well-wrapped in the refrigerator for up to a week.

How to Par-Bake Cinnamon Rolls {Make Ahead Method!}

How to Par-Bake Cinnamon Rolls {Make Ahead Method!}​

Coming from a Christmas morning breakfast casserole family, I’ve never really understood why so many people make cinnamon rolls on that day of all days.

I mean, have you made cinnamon rolls from scratch? They are not a quick recipe, clocking in at a minimum of three hours start-to-finish (slightly less if you do the rise overnight). My family is all adults so we start our Christmas morning at a leisurely 9am, eat around 10, then get to the gifts around noon. If we wanted cinnamon rolls for breakfast, that would require the baker (me!) to be up and functioning at 7am. Big no thank you. And if you have kids or people who get up for gifts at 6am or earlier…3am? Earlier? Forget it!

But what if I told you that you could have warm, fluffy, homemade cinnamon rolls on your table on Christmas morning in under an hour? Yes, it’s possible, thanks to a little technique called par-baking.

You’ve definitely heard the term “par-baking” on here before in association with pie crust. It means to partially bake, which is exactly what we’re going to do to these rolls: partially bake them ahead of time, then finish the baking on Christmas. This method will work with any yeast-raised cinnamon roll recipe you love. I wouldn’t recommend this method for any rolls with fruit in the filling (i.e. not these) as it might degrade during thawing, but I think nuts would be okay.

How to Par-Bake Cinnamon Rolls {Make Ahead Method!}​

Now, this isn’t a magic trick. You do have to plan ahead to do about 2.5 hours of mixing/kneading/rolling/rising at some point to make this work. But (but!) the bulk of the work can be done anytime between now and Christmas (or whenever you want cinnamon rolls).

The process is simple. Make your cinnamon roll recipe up to the baking step, then bake for about half the baking time (15 minutes). At this point, your rolls should be risen, puffed and pale. Where you would normally continue baking them until brown, resist that urge and remove them from the oven.

Let your rolls cool to room temperature and then triple wrap in plastic, cover in foil and freeze until the night before you need them. If you don’t want to have your 9×13” pan out of commission for any length of time, you can bake in a disposable aluminum baking pan, then tuck it into your freezer for up to six weeks.

The night before you want cinnamon rolls, move the par-baked rolls from your freezer to your fridge to thaw out. In the morning, simply uncover and bake your rolls for the remaining 15 minutes, until golden. Finish with cream cheese frosting and voila! Fresh homemade cinnamon rolls on your table in under an hour, and you didn’t have to sacrifice sleep to make it happen.

How to Par-Bake Cinnamon Rolls {Make Ahead Method!}​

Call it Christmas magic. Call it whatever you want. Just call me for breakfast.

Par-baked Cinnamon Rolls
adapted from Dana Velden

cinnamon roll recipe of choice
9x13-inch baking pan (disposable aluminum, if desired)

Follow your yeast-raised cinnamon roll recipe up to the baking step.

Preheat your oven to 375F. Bake cinnamon rolls for 10-15 minutes, until risen, puffed and pale.

Remove cinnamon rolls from the oven and allow to cool completely in their pan on a rack. Triple wrap the pan in plastic wrap, then wrap in foil. Freeze for up to 6 weeks.

The night before you want cinnamon rolls, move the pan of frozen rolls to the refrigerator. Let thaw 8-12 hours.

Preheat oven to 375F. Unwrap rolls; discard foil and plastic wrap.

Bake rolls for 10-15 minutes, until golden brown. Top with cream cheese frosting (or whatever your recipe says) and serve warm.

Snickerdoodle Squares

Snickerdoodle Squares

I try very hard to keep a baking schedule that allows me a full day off every week, but as with everything, there are exceptions. For example, a friend of mine had a fully-vaxxed get-together last weekend. You know I couldn’t show up empty-handed!

Snickerdoodle Squares

Enter these Snickerdoodle Squares, the perfect low-maintenance party treat. They have all the flavor and texture of classic, cinnamon-crusted Snickerdoodle cookies, but bake up in a square pan with limited fuss!

Snickerdoodle Squares

These soft, chewy squares are easy as can be, with slightly tangy sugar cookie centers and crisp cinnamon-sugar edges. The base is very similar to my favorite blondie recipe, with the biggest deviation being the additions of baking powder and cream of tartar for a more cookie-like texture. It’s an easy, no-mixer batter that requires few ingredients and almost no time to whip together.

Heads up: there is no substitute for cream of tartar—it is a classic snickerdoodle ingredient that gives these squares that signature tang. If you don’t have any on hand, you can leave it out without any major consequences, but the flavor will be a bit less snickerdoodly. Snickerdoodlesque?

Now onto the main event: the cinnamon sugar! You simply can’t have a snickerdoodle without cinnamon sugar—it’s basically the whole point. Here, it’s scattered in the bottom of the buttered pan before being topped with the batter and more cinnamon sugar. As the squares bake, the top layer expands and cracks with the batter, while the bottom layer melts and caramelizes. After the squares cool completely in their pan, that bottom layer will be extra-crispy, like a thin layer of cinnamon sugar glass against all that cookie square goodness! Textural diversity for the win.

Snickerdoodle Squares

Y’all, these Snickerdoodle Squares are as satisfying as they are simple. All the flavor and texture of a perfect, soft snickerdoodle and half the work! The combination of the crunchy, crystalline cinnamon sugar on the top, the crackling-crisp layer on the bottom, and the thick, chewy centers is irresistible. I, for one, will be hauling these to every picnic, party and anything else I’m invited to this summer, and I have an inkling you will be, too.

Snickerdoodle Squares
Snickerdoodle Squares
makes one 8- or 9-inch square pan, about 16 squares

Cinnamon Sugar:
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

Batter:
1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup light brown sugar, packed
1 large egg, room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
1/2 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt

Preheat oven to 350F. Grease an 8- or 9-inch square pan well with butter. Line with parchment, leaving overhang on two sides for removal. Grease again.

Make cinnamon sugar. In a small bowl, use a fork to whisk together sugar and cinnamon.

Sprinkle 1 tablespoon of the cinnamon sugar in the bottom of the prepared pan. Tilt the pan around to coat the bottom. Set aside both the pan and the remaining cinnamon sugar.

Make the batter. In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together melted butter, granulated sugar and light brown sugar. Mix in the egg, followed by the vanilla. Add the flour, baking powder, cream of tartar and salt, and whisk just until combined.

Transfer batter to prepared pan. Use a silicone spatula or wooden spoon to gently spread it to the edges, covering the layer of cinnamon sugar. Sprinkle remaining cinnamon sugar over the top, taking care to get all the way to the edges. Tap full pan on the counter a couple of times to knock out any large air bubbles.

Bake squares for 20-22 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean or with only a few moist crumbs (not wet batter). Let squares cool completely in the pan on a rack.

Once cooled, use the parchment overhang to lift the bars onto a cutting board. Discard parchment. Slice into 16 squares with a large, sharp chef’s knife. Serve.

Leftovers will keep well covered at room temperature for up to four days.
Snickerdoodle Squares
Snickerdoodle Squares