Braided Cinnamon Sugar Bread

This beautiful braided cinnamon loaf uses the same dough as the country white loaf bread. It is soft and fluffy and filled with pockets of cinnamon and sugar.

Braided Cinnamon Loaf with Vietnamese Cinnamon- Baker Bettie

You know when you’re in a store and the clerk lays a total sales pitch on you, but tries to sound all non-nonchalant about it? Well I’m that person that knows they are trying to get me to buy the thing but then buy it anyway. Because I mean, what if they are right? What if the thing WILL change my life forever? I just can’t risk not getting it.

Well, I’m in the spice store the other day on a girl date and I’m looking at all the various kinds of cinnamon. And the the clerk very casually says, “Vietnamese cinnamon is by far the best cinnamon I’ve ever tasted.” So I obviously snatched it up. Then I proceeded to  walk around the store with it for the next half hour pretending to search for other things I might need but really debating about if the ridiculous high price for a little bottle of cinnamon was worth it. He said it was “the best.” Not good, but BEST. But I mean, it’s cinnamon. All cinnamon tastes delicious. How much better could this cinnamon be? I have numerous jars of cinnamon in my cupboard. Way too many jars of cinnamon. I absolutely don’t need another jar of cinnamon… So I bought it.

Braided Cinnamon Loaf with Vietnamese Cinnamon- Baker Bettie

I have to tell you though, I don’t regret it. Not even a little. Not at all. It WAS life changing! Thank you Mr. spice store clerk.

I obviously knew that there were varying kinds and qualities of cinnamon (or cassia, which is what we are almost always buying in the store), but up until his point I haven’t cared too much about them. It’s like eating milk chocolate all your life and never trying any other kind of chocolate because milk chocolate is delicious! But then one day you try some high quality dark chocolate and you are like “WHAT?! Where has this been all my life?” And you feel stupid for living in the milk chocolate world. That is what Vietnamese cinnamon is like. It’s the dark chocolate of cinnamon.

The point I’m trying to make here is that you should make this bread. You should make this bread and then slather it with real butter and sugar and cinnamon. And if you have Vietnamese cinnamon, then you should most definitely use it in this bread. If you don’t have Vietnamese cinnamon then make the bread anyway and make it a point to treat yourself to some of this heavenly cinnamon soon. You won’t turn back. I just know it.

Braided Cinnamon Loaf with Vietnamese Cinnamon- Baker Bettie

Remember last week when I made the beautiful country white sandwich loaf? I used the other half of that bread to make this.  Then my husband and I proceeded to eat the whole thing in less than 24 hours. And I kept saying over and over again, “Oh. My. God. This cinnamon. It is incredible! I just can’t believe I haven’t tried it until now. What was I thinking?”

The bread is perfectly light and fluffy and soft with little surprise pockets of cinnamon and butter tucked in each bite. Mr. BB slathered his with more real butter. He has no shame. I tried to be a little bit modest with the, ahem, 10 pieces I ate and paired it with blackberry jam. It was a solid choice. You really can’t go wrong with toppings, or even just warm as is.

If you want all the sciency stuff about Vietnamese cinnamon (cause you know I researched it like a geek!) Click here to find out just why Vietnamese cinnamon (aka Saigon cinnamon) is so amazing!

Yields 1

Braided Cinnamon Sugar Bread

3 hr, 30 Prep Time

50 minCook Time

4 hr, 20 Total Time

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Ingredients

1 1/4 cups of milk
3 Tablespoons unsalted butter, but into pieces
3/4 cup water, about 105°
2 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast (or 1 package)
3 Tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon salt
4 1/2 cups of unbleached bread flour
1/2 cup of flour for kneading
1/3 cup butter, melted
lots of sugar
lots of cinnamon
egg wash (1 egg white lightly whisked with 1 TBSP water)

Instructions

  1. In a saucepan heat the milk over medium heat for about 4 minutes to scald. When the milk is steaming remove it from the heat and add the butter. Set aside to cool.
  2. In the bowl of a stand mixer, mix together the yeast and warm water. Set aside while the milk cools to lukewarm.
  3. The the mixing bowl with the yeast, add 2 cups of the flour, the sugar, salt and cooled milk mixture and beat with the paddle attachment until smooth.
  4. Switch to the dough hook and gradually add 21/2 cups more of flour while mixing on medium speed, scraping down the sides of the bowl as necessary, until the dough forms into a ball. This should take about 2 minutes of mixing.
  5. Turn the dough ball out onto a clean and lightly floured work space and knead for 5 minutes until smooth and elastic. Return the dough to the bowl, cover and let rise in a warm place for 2 hours, until doubled in size.
  6. Gently press all of the gas out of the dough pull the edges over to the center to form a ball, and cover and let rise a second time for an hour.
  7. Grease two standard loaf pans (8.5 X 4.5 X 2.5) pans on the sides and bottoms. Turn the dough out onto the lightly floured surface again, and lightly push the air out of the dough. Cut the dough into two equal pieces. (NOTE: If you only want to use half of the dough you can put the rest in the refrigerator for up to 2 days covered. Allow chilled dough to sit at room temp for 1 hour before using).
  8. Roll the dough out with a lightly floured rolling pin into a rectangle about 1/4" thick.
  9. Brush melted butter over the dough and sprinkle sugar and then cinnamon evenly over the dough.
  10. Roll the dough tightly into a log. Use your fingers to pinch the dough shut.
  11. Cut the roll in half lengthwise from end to end, exposing all of the layers you rolled.Twist the two halves together with the layer side out then gently lift and set into the loaf pan. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rise for 30 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 400F.
  12. Brush the loaf with egg wash and sprinkle some more cinnamon and sugar if desired.
  13. Bake at 400F for 10 minutes, then reduce the heat to 350 and bake for another 40 minutes. If the dough is getting too dark on top, lay a piece of foil over it while it finishes baking.
  14. Let cool on baking racks for 30 minutes before slicing with a serrated knife.
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Re-hydrating the Yeast

hydrating yeast, blooming yeast

Starting to Mix the Dough

mixing soft bread dough

Dough Ready for Kneading by Hand (sticky and soft)

dough ready to be kneaded by hand

After Kneading by Hand (smooth and slightly sticky, but not sticking to the table)

dough after kneading, ready for proofing

After Proofing/First Rise

bread dough after first rise

Degassing the dough

punching down the dough

Dough Ready to Be Rolled

cinnamon sugar bread ready to be rolled

Ready for Last Rise Before the Oven

cinnamon braided loaf ready for the oven