Friday, July 15, 2011

Cinnamon Swirl Bread + Cinnaswirl French Toast

Hey. Guess what? It’s the weekend! 

That’s really good news for you, because that means you’re going to have plenty of time to make cinnamon swirl bread without it interfering with your busy weekday schedule. 

I mean, yeah, I guess you could choose not to make this bread. . . but let’s be serious. Why would you do that? If you’re a novice bread baker and you’re afraid, don’t be. 

 As far as breads go, this one is pretty forgiving, and we’ve all got to start somewhere, okay? Plus, the result is very impressive. 

“But Miss Maillard!” you say, “What am I going to do with a whole loaf of cinnamon swirl bread?”

Well, you’re going to eat it. Plain, or toasted, or spread with butter. . . Or any combination of the above, okay? You’ve got options. Then you’re going to feed it to people who you love, and be prepared for them to sing your praises. Probably with their mouths full. 

Because this bread is homemade without any of the preservatives of store-bought bread, it’ll start to lose its freshness pretty quick – like, after only two or three days, tops. Now, it’s pretty unlikely that there will be any of this bread left after a couple days, but if there is, not to worry. 

Slightly-stale slices of cinnamon swirl bread are perfect for cinnamon swirl French toast. . . so I won’t even blame you if you hide a couple slices of bread from your family so you, too, can experience this start to your morning.

Breakfast on the weekend is an opportunity to break away from the weekday staples of oatmeal and cereal. Let’s get fancy. 

Slivered almonds? Maple syrup? A little powdered sugar? How can you not have a good day after a breakfast like this? Are you convinced yet? 

Well. . . how about now?

This tastes like heaven. The bread is toasty-crisp on the outside and warm and silky on the inside, and the merger of cinnamon and maple syrup is wholesome and comforting. You don’t need the fancy almonds or anything to make this delicious, but if you do happen to have some almonds, walnuts or pecans on hand. . . go ahead and give them a rough chop and sprinkle them over top, for a little extra crunch. 

As a sidenote, if you’re cooking breakfast for a man, don’t try to keep him from this plate of food while you’re setting it up next to the window to photograph it. I mean, unless you don’t mind drool stains all over your shoulder. 

Go ahead and make this for breakfast this weekend. Sit down and have a cup of coffee, read the paper (or your favorite blogs), enjoy a moment of peace. And if you’re kind enough to share with your significant other, parent, child or mailman? Prepare for an ego boost. . .if they can stop eating long enough to say anything. 

Check after the jump for the recipes both for the bread and for the French toast!

Cinnamon Swirl Bread
adapted from The Pioneer Woman

1 cup skim milk
6 tbsp butter (plus a little more for greasing the pan)
2 ½ tsp instant yeast
2 eggs
2/3 cup white sugar (divided)
1 tsp vanilla extract
3 ½ cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp salt
3 tbsp cinnamon
2-3 tbsp butter, very, very soft
Egg wash (1 egg beaten with a little milk)

For people with mixers:  You can absolutely do these steps in your mixer and use the dough hook to knead, but I’m writing the instructions for doing it by hand because anyone can make this, mixer-enabled or not. 

In a saucepan, melt butter together with milk and ‘scald’ the mixture – that is, heat until almost boiling, and then immediately remove from heat without actually allowing it to boil. Personally, I’ve always just microwaved the milk and butter together in a glass measuring cup for about a minute. Either way, set the milk/butter aside to cool a little. 

In a medium bowl, combine the flour and the salt and whisk to combine, then add the yeast and whisk. (Direct contact with salt will kill the yeast.) 

In a separate large bowl, whisk together the two eggs and 1/3 cup of the sugar until frothy. Stir in vanilla and then, once the milk/butter has cooled some, add milk/butter to eggs/sugar while whisking constantly. Add the flour mixture, 1 cup at a time, stirring with a wooden spoon to incorporate.

Flour your hands and your work surface generously and knead the dough. If you’re doing this by hand, you’re going to have to knead the dough for 10-15 minutes, which is a great upper body workout, by the way. Be wary of adding more flour even if your dough seems wet or sticky, as usually kneading will create a smoother dough. If it’s absolutely too sticky to work with, add another ¼ cup flour. If it’s too dry after kneading, add a tablespoon of water at a time. 

Either way, once your dough is smooth and elastic, drizzle a tablespoon of oil into a large, clean bowl and place your doughball in the bowl. Turn the dough so that it is evenly coated in oil, then cover the bowl with plastic and place it in a warm, draft-free place to rise. If you want, you can preheat your oven for exactly one minute, then turn it off, make sure the racks aren’t hot to the touch, and leave your bowl with your dough inside to rise. 

Once the dough has doubled in volume (1 ½ - 2 hours), remove it from the bowl onto a floured work surface. Roll the dough into a rectangle as wide as your loaf pan, and long enough that the dough is about ¾ of an inch thick. Important! Dimple the dough with your fingers to pop any large air bubbles – that is, press your fingertips into the dough gently, all over. Now, spread the very, very soft butter all over the dough in a thin layer, then sprinkle with the 3 tbsp of cinnamon and other 1/3 cup of sugar. 

Roll the dough tightly into a log (starting from one of the shorter ends) and pinch the dough at the seam to seal it. Really make sure it’s pinched closed, or you’ll have a cinnamon-sugar blowout. Place the dough log, seam-side down, into your greased loaf pan. Make sure the ends of the log touch the sides of the pan, so the loaf will rise evenly. Cover with oiled plastic wrap and let it rise until the top of the loaf has crested over the edge of the pan (1 ½ - 2 hours, but watch close, you don’t want it to rise too much). 

Preheat your oven to 350F. Brush your egg wash over the top of the dough, then bake for about 40 minutes, until the loaf is deeply golden brown. (If you’re interested, interior temp should be about 190F). 

Remove from the pan immediately (using a clean dish towel) and let cool completely on a rack before slicing. 

To be fair, ‘completely’ is a relative term. If you can’t wait, I won’t blame you.

Cinnamon Swirl French Toast

4 slices of cinnamon swirl bread (1 inch thick)
2 eggs
¼ cup milk
¼ tsp vanilla extract
2 tbsp sugar
dash of salt
dash of nutmeg
2 tbsp butter

Whisk all the ingredients except the butter together in a bowl, then pour into a shallow container large enough to dip the bread. Melt 1 tablespoon of butter in a nonstick skillet over medium-low heat. Dip both sides of the bread into the egg mix and fry in the skillet till golden brown, then flip and fry the other side. You should be able to do 2 slices at a time; after the first two slices, add the other tablespoon of butter before doing the next two. Easy!

Serve with maple syrup and garnish with chopped nuts, if desired.


  1. GET OUT OF TOWN! I can't handle it. Must. Make. Today.

  2. Wow, looks delicious! Although I'm thinking the french toast portion would be far too tempting to not hold some of the original bread in reserve.


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