zingerman's cinnamon swirl bread

zingerman's cinnamon swirl bread

This bread is a caramelized, gooey swirl of cinnamon and sugar wrapped inside a tender, fluffy crumb. It tastes like a cinnamon roll, except there’s no guilt when you eat 3 slices in a row— because come on. It’s just bread! It can hardly be too decadent for thirds. 

The recipe hails from Transylvania, where the co- owners of Zingerman’s traveled for culinary research. They sell it in their Ann Arbor bakery a few times a year, and thankfully, they published the recipe in their new cookbook for the rest of the world to enjoy. 

The dough itself is very sticky, so don’t panic if you can’t knead it without flour. Use what you need (be minimal if possible), and once it rises it will be an incredibly soft, silky, gorgeous dough. They suggest a 4” x 8” metal loaf pan for the ideal dimensions, though I used a 5” x 9” with no obvious problems or changes to the folding technique. A few notes about baking— this dough seems to brown really quickly. Our current place has a crazy oven so I can’t say for sure, but I would recommend checking on the bread after 10 minutes in the oven. If it’s browning too quickly, tent the bread with aluminum foil to slow it down.

zingerman's cinnamon swirl bread

And finally, there’s a lot of sugar that could potentially ooze out of the bottom seam of the rolled loaf and cement the bread to the pan once cool, so in the future I’ll be making a parchment paper sling in the pan to help get the whole thing out. This time, I just ran a sharp knife around the edges of the pan when it came out of the oven and then removed the bread sooner than the 20 minutes the recipe stated— before the sugar had a chance to harden and glue the bread to the pan. At least, that's what I told myself as I ignored the rest of the recipe, pulled the bread out of the pan, cut into the warm, cinnamon scented dough and savored the first sticky spiral. Good for you if you can wait for the bread to cool.

zingerman's cinnamon swirl bread

makes one 4" x 8" loaf | recipe from Zingerman's Bakehouse


cinnamon swirl bread

  • 1/2 cup + 1 tbsp (125 g) water, room temperature

  • 4 (60 g) egg yolks

  • 2 tbsp (25 g) canola oil

  • 2 tbsp (40 g) honey

  • 1 3/4 tsp (5 g) instant yeast (can substitute active dry yeast, just proof it first in the warm water with half of the honey)

  • 1 1/2 tsp kosher salt

  • 2 1/3 cups (325 g) all purpose flour

  • 2 tsp ground cinnamon

  • 2/3 cup (165 g) granulated sugar

  • 3 tbsp melted butter or lard for brushing dough

egg wash

  • 1 large egg

  • 1 egg yolk

  • 1 tbsp water


  1. Combine the water, egg yolks, oil, honey, yeast, salt and half of the flour. Using a wooden spoon, mix until a thick batter forms, then stir in the rest of the flour to form a shaggy dough. Turn out dough onto a floured work surface and knead for 6 to 8 minutes, or until smooth and elastic. If very sticky, add flour as needed, but use sparingly to keep the dough tender.

  2. Put the dough in a lightly oiled bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and let rise in a draft-free area for 1 hour. Combine the cinnamon and sugar in a small bowl.

  3. Create a parchment paper sling by cutting a piece of parchment approximately 8" x 13" in size and placing it in an 8”x4” metal loaf pan, allowing a few inches to hang over the long edges. Lightly grease parchment paper and exposed ends of pan with cooking spray or melted butter and set aside. (note: the parchment paper sling is not shown in the photos below, but it is very helpful in case sugar leaks out during baking and cements the bread to the pan)

  4. Place the dough on a well-floured surface and roll it out to a 13" x 15" rectangle. Arrange the dough so the long edge is parallel with the countertop and brush the entire surface with melted butter. Spread half the cinnamon sugar mixture across the buttered surface of the dough.

  5. Fold the long edges at the top and bottom of the dough so that they meet along the middle of the length of the rectangle. Brush the newly exposed surface with more melted butter and cover with half of the remaining cinnamon sugar.

  6. Take the left side of the dough and fold it two- thirds of the way over to the right. Brush butter onto the newly exposed surface and rub half of the remaining cinnamon sugar on it. Fold the right side of the dough over to the left. Turn the dough 90° counterclockwise. Brush the surface with melted butter and spread the remaining cinnamon sugar on this surface.

  7. Beginning at the side closest to you, roll the dough into a cylinder. Place the loaf with the seam side down in prepared loaf pan.

  8. Beat the egg, egg yolk, and water together in a small bowl and brush it on the loaf. Allow the dough to rise in a draft-free area for 1 1/2 to 2 hours, or until it has risen significantly in the loaf pan and partially springs back after touching it.

  9. Preheat oven to 335° F.

  10. When the dough has fully proofed, brush it again with egg wash and lightly score 3 slashes into the surface with a sharp knife. Bake for 15 minutes, then reduce the oven temperature to 320°F and bake for another 25 minutes, until the crust is deeply golden brown. If using a meat thermometer, remove the bread from the oven at 195° to 200° F. Let cool for at least 20 minutes before removing from the pan. If you've made it this far without tearing into the steamy, molten, sugary loaf-- nicely done. I didn't.

  • This bread will be good for several days after baking, and even better toasted and buttered or made into a decadent french toast.