I adore surprises. I’m also really bad at them. This whole wheat Cinnamon Swirl Bread is my latest failed attempt at a surprise.

Cinnamon swirl bread cut into slices on a cutting board

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I spoil the surprises every time. It doesn’t matter what the occasion is. I just become so darn excited, the surprise bursts out before I can stop it.

For example, today’s homemade bread recipe.

On the outside, it looks like your standard loaf: attractive, lightly golden (like this English Muffin Bread), but on the inside, it has a secret surprise.

I’m not going to tell you what it is either…IT’S A SECRETLY CINNAMON SWIRL BREAD ON THE INSIDE! Whoops. I tried. I really did.

A loaf of cinnamon swirl bread with hazelnuts cut into slices on a cutting board

Since the cat’s out of the bag, I guess I may as well tell you a few other hidden talents this divinely fluffy cinnamon swirl bread has up its sleeve. Warning, major spoilers lie ahead:

  • Spoiler #1: This cinnamon swirl bread is easy (as are these Biscuit Cinnamon Rolls). Simply pat the dough into a rectangle, sprinkle generously with cinnamon-sugar fairy dust, roll that puppy up like a sleeping bag, and voila! You just formed a perfect cinnamon swirl for your Cinnamon Bread.
  • Spoiler #2: Prepare for the scent of sweet cinnamon intoxication. This bread smells so tantalizing as it bakes (like these Cinnamon Blondies), it’s near impossible to wait for it to cool.
  • Spoiler #3: This is healthy cinnamon swirl bread with whole wheat flour. AND it’s not dense or stodgy. This cinnamon swirl bread is simply fluff-tastic.

No matter your level or bread baking expertise (or lack thereof), with a little patience, you will soon be prancing around your home, with a perfect slice of cinnamon swirl bread in your hand (and in your mouth.)

Slices of whole wheat cinnamon swirl bread served on a plate with coffee

How to Make Cinnamon Swirl Bread

An affordable, healthy alternative for store-bought cinnamon-swirl bread that anyone can bake at home. Carb lovers, cinnamon lovers (who would also adore these Cinnamon Crunch Bagels), and celebrators of life, rejoice!


The Ingredients

  • Instant Yeast. When baking bread with yeast (like this Oatmeal Bread), always check your yeast for the manufacturer’s recommended water temperature for activation. It’s usually between 105 and 120 degrees F.
  • All Purpose Flour. Keep the crumb of this bread light and fluffy.
  • White Whole Wheat Flour. My favorite trick for sneaking in additional fiber, iron, and protein into bread and other baked goods (like this Whole Wheat Pizza Dough).
  • Vital Wheat Gluten. Another secret surprise I may as well share. Using vital wheat gluten is the BEST way to make bread made with whole wheat flour soft, and delightfully fluffy.
  • Cinnamon + Sugar. Flavor and tenderize the dough and ALSO make up that ever-important “secret” cinnamon swirl. (If you love cinnamon swirl, try this Cranberry Cinnamon Swirl Bread next!)
  • Shortening. Locks in moisture to keep this bread soft and the dough pliable.
  • Egg + Milk. Enrich the dough with additional fat for added softness and tenderness.
  • Hazelnuts. An optional addition that ups the aromatic factor of this bread to a whole new level and adds a lovely crunch in every bite.
Whole wheat bread dough with chopped hazelnuts on a baking mat

The Directions

  1. Activate the yeast in water for 5 minutes.
  2. Combine the all-purpose flour, white whole wheat flour, vital wheat gluten, salt, and cinnamon. Set aside.
  3. Add the egg, milk, and shortening to the yeast and water then stir into the dry ingredients.
  4. Mix until the ingredients come together and form a ball.
  5. Knead until dough until it’s soft, pliable, and slightly tacky but not sticky.

TIP!

If you’d like to add some crunch, fold in some hazelnuts during the final 2 minutes of kneading. Take care not to crush them.

  1. Let rise until the dough doubles in size.
  2. Meanwhile, stir together the cinnamon and sugar. Set aside.
  3. Divide the dough into 2 equal pieces, shape them into rectangles that are 5 inches wide by 8 inches long, and sprinkle with the cinnamon-sugar mixture.
  4. Roll up the dough, pinching the crease as you go, then transfer to a greased loaf pan.
  5. Cover and let rise until it’s nearly doubled in size.
  6. Bake until the loaves are brown on top, golden on the sides, and sound hollow when tapped.

TIP!

You can also use an instant-read thermometer to test the bread for doneness. When it reaches an internal temp of 190 degrees, it’s done.

  1. Remove and let cool for 1 hour before serving. ENJOY!

Storage Tips

  • TO STORE: Baked cinnamon swirl bread may be kept in a ziptop bag or wrapped in foil at room temperature for 4 days. Do not store in the refrigerator, as the bread will become stale.
  • TO FREEZE: Wrap tightly in plastic wrap, and a layer of foil, then freeze for up to 3 months.

Some people are great at keeping surprises. Others are great at eating whole wheat cinnamon swirl bread. We all have our strengths.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can Shortening be Substituted with Coconut Oil?

I have not tried swapping the shortening for coconut oil or an alternative fat before so it would be an experiment. If you decide to try it out, I’d love to hear your results.

Can I Use a Different Flour For this Recipe?

This recipe can be made with entirely all-purpose flour or bread flour if you’d like to omit the white whole wheat flour. If you omit the white whole wheat flour you may also leave out the vital wheat gluten since it is there to help with texture when whole wheat flour is used.

Can I Make Cinnamon Swirl Bread Gluten Free?

I have not tried converting this particular bread recipe into a gluten free version before so it would be an experiment. If there is a 1-to-1 gluten free flour that you have used successfully in the past with other bread recipes, however, feel free to experiment and let me know how it goes.

Slices of cinnamon swirl bread on a cutting board

Cinnamon Swirl Bread

5 from 1 vote
This easy cinnamon swirl bread with whole wheat flour is a healthy alternative to store-bought cinnamon swirl loaves. So soft and fluffy!

Prep: 3 hrs
Cook: 45 mins
Total: 3 hrs 45 mins

Servings: 2 loaves

Ingredients
  

For the Dough:

  • 3/4 cup water very warm but not hot (110 degrees F—check your yeast packet for specific recommendations)
  • 2 teaspoons instant yeast
  • 2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 cups  white whole wheat flour
  • 3 tablespoons  vital wheat gluten
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1 large egg slightly beaten
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 2 tablespoons shortening melted and at room temperature
  • 1 cup hazelnuts (optional) toasted and roughly chopped

For the Cinnamon Swirl:

  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 tablespoons ground cinnamon

Instructions
 

  • In a small bowl, combine the water and yeast. Let proof for 5 minutes.
  • In a large bowl or the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, stir together the all-purpose flour, white whole wheat flour, vital wheat gluten, salt, and cinnamon.
  • To the bowl with the yeast, add the egg, milk, and shortening and stir to combine. Add the yeast mixture all at once to the flour mixture. Stir together with a large spoon (or mix on low speed) until the ingredients come together and form a ball.
  • Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface (or switch to a dough hook if using a standing mixer.) Knead by hand (or on medium speed) for approximately 10 minutes (or by machine for 6 to 8 minutes), adding more flour as necessary. The dough should be soft, pliable, and slightly tacky but not sticky. If adding hazelnuts, gently add them into the dough during the final 2 minutes of kneading. Be careful not to crush them. (If you are using a machine, it may be helpful to knead them in by hand so that they are distributed evenly.)
  • Place the dough in a lightly oiled large bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and let rise at room temperature for approximately 2 hours, until the dough doubles in size. To check dough readiness, gently press the dough with two fingers. If the indent stays, the dough is ready.
  • Prepare the cinnamon swirl: In a small bowl, stir together the cinnamon and sugar. Set aside.
  • Lightly oil two 8×4-inch loaf pans. Divide the dough into 2 equal pieces (use a kitchen scale if you have one). Place one piece on a lightly floured work surface and pat it into a rectangle that is 5 inches wide by 8 inches long. Sprinkle with half of the cinnamon-sugar mixture. Working from the short (5-inch) side of the dough, roll up the length of the dough, jelly-roll style as if you are rolling up a sleeping bag, pinching the crease with each rotation to seal in the filling and strengthen the dough’s surface tension. The loaf will spread as you roll, reaching 8 to 9 inches (the length of your loaf pan). Pinch the final seam closed with the back edge of your hand or your thumbs, then lift the loaf and rock it gently back and forth to even it out. Place the loaf in one of the prepared pans. Repeat with the second piece of dough.
  • Mist the tops of the loaves with spray oil, cover loosely in plastic wrap, then let rise at room temperature for 60 to 90 minutes, until the top of the dough crests above the edge of the pan and it is nearly doubled in size.
  • Before the dough finishes rising, place a rack in the center of your oven and preheat to 350 degrees F. Once the dough has finished its second rise, place the loaf pans on a large sheet pan, ensuring that they do not touch. Bake for 20 minutes, rotate the sheet pan 180 degrees, then bake an additional 20 to 30 minutes (depending on your oven), until the loaves reach an internal temperature of 190 degrees F. The finished loaves will be brown on the top, golden on the sides, and sound hollow when tapped.
  • Immediately remove the bread from the pans, then let cool for at least 1 hour before serving. Enjoy warm with butter.

Notes

  • TO STORE: Baked cinnamon swirl bread may be kept in a ziptop bag or wrapped in foil at room temperature for 4 days. Do not store in the refrigerator, as the bread will become stale.
  • TO FREEZE: Wrap tightly in plastic wrap, then foil, and freeze for up to 3 months.

Nutrition

Serving: 1sliceCalories: 193kcalCarbohydrates: 30gProtein: 7gFat: 6gSaturated Fat: 1gPolyunsaturated Fat: 1gMonounsaturated Fat: 3gTrans Fat: 1gCholesterol: 8mgSodium: 153mgPotassium: 104mgFiber: 4gSugar: 6gVitamin A: 28IUVitamin C: 1mgCalcium: 42mgIron: 2mg

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Erin Clarke

Hi, I'm Erin Clarke, and I'm fearlessly dedicated to making healthy food that's affordable, easy-to-make, and best of all DELISH. I'm the author and recipe developer here at wellplated.com and of The Well Plated Cookbook. I adore both sweets and veggies, and I am on a mission to save you time and dishes. WELCOME!

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8 Comments

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    1. Mira, this bread will work deliciously with bread flour. Simply sub 1:1 for the whole wheat and all purpose flours in the recipe, and you can also omit the gluten completely. The gluten is there to help with texture when whole wheat flour is used. Since you’re going for 100% bread flour, you won’t need it–your bread will be super fluffy all on its own!

  1. Hi! I don’t have any hazelnuts, but I do have both almonds and cashews… But my biggest worry is I only have white flour. Are there any adjustments I need to make to the recipe to use the white flour? I want to make your french toast bake for my grandkids tonight but can’t afford to run to the store.

    1. Hi! This recipe should work fine if you substitute all-purpose flour for the white whole wheat flour, so I hope it was a hit with the grandkids!

    1. Hi Kendra, I’ve never tested this out myself, but according to online sources, coconut oil can be substituted for shortening. Let me know if you decide to try it out!

      1. Great recipe! I swapped out the shortening with coconut oil (3 tbsp) and it turns out great! I also add a few tbsp of maple syrup to the bread dough and it works out well!5 stars