This stunning braided cinnamon bread is drizzled with a sweet vanilla glaze and topped with toasted pecans. It feeds a crowd, making it perfect for potlucks or entertaining, and it’s just as welcome at breakfast as it is alongside your afternoon coffee.
This impressive cinnamon-infused loaf is topped with sweet vanilla glaze and toasted pecans and makes use of your Dutch oven for baking. It makes a very large loaf, so be sure to use a Dutch oven 5 1/2 quarts or larger.–Vernon Winterton
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Braided Cinnamon Bread FAQs
How do I make this braided bread if I don’t have a mixer with a dough hook?
If you don’t have a dough hook, or you just can’t find yours, you can always knead the dough by hand. It’s a lot more work, but the bright side is that you’ll get a great workout. For this recipe, just ignore the dough hook reference in step one, and mix in a bowl. When your dough is formed, plop it onto a clean, lightly floured surface, and knead by hand until you have a lovely soft dough.
Which type of yeast is best for baking – active dry or instant?
Well, it really depends on what you’re baking. For artisan or no-knead doughs that proof for long periods of time, you’ll need active dry yeast. For quick-rising breads, instant yeast works just fine. Need more information? Read What’s the Difference Between Yeasts?
Braided Cinnamon Bread
For the bread
- 2 cups warm water
- 1 cup plus 3 tablespoons granulated sugar divided
- 2 tablespoons plus 1/2 teaspoon active dry yeast
- 1 tablespoon kosher salt
- 3 tablespoons (1 1/2 oz) unsalted butter at room temperature
- 1 cup whole milk
- 7 1/2 cups all-purpose flour divided, plus more if needed
- Mild vegetable oil for the bowl
- 1 stick (4 oz) unsalted butter melted, divided
- 1/2 cup light brown sugar
- 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
- Cooking spray
For the glaze
- 1 cup (4 oz) confectioners’ sugar
- 1 to 2 tablespoons whole milk
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/2 cup chopped pecans
Make the bread
- In a large mixing bowl or using a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook, combine water, 2/3 cup (167 g) sugar, and yeast. When foamy, add salt, softened butter, milk, and 5 cups (675 g) flour. Stir until well mixed then add remaining 2 1/2 cups flour, 1/2 cup at a time. Tip dough out and onto a lightly floured surface, knead until a soft dough forms, adding more flour if needed, 3 to 5 minutes.
- Place dough in a lightly-oiled bowl and turn to coat. Cover with a clean cloth and set in a warm, draft-free area until doubled in size, about 45 minutes.
- Preheat oven to 350°F (180°C).
- Punch down dough and roll out on a lightly floured surface into a 10- by 4-inch (25- by 10-cm) rectangle. Brush with half of the melted butter.
- In a small bowl, combine remaining sugar, brown sugar, and cinnamon; sprinkle evenly over the top of the dough. Fold the dough into thirds and then roll out to a 12- by 4-inch (30- by 10-cm) rectangle.
- Divide the dough lengthwise into 3 equal pieces and braid together. Bring ends together and pinch to form a circle.
- Coat a 5 1/2 quart or larger Dutch oven with nonstick cooking spray. Place the braided bread in the Dutch oven, cover with the lid and bake until golden brown and the internal temperature reaches 190°F (88°C), 55 to 70 minutes. Remove bread from the oven, place on a wire rack and brush with the remaining melted butter. Let cool.
Make the glaze
- In a small bowl, mix together confectioners’ sugar, milk, and vanilla to desired consistency. Drizzle over the cooled braid, then sprinkle with pecans.
Recipe Testers’ Reviews
This braided cinnamon bread recipe did not disappoint in any way but be prepared for a really large braided bread. This will definitely serve 16. My 5.5 quart Le Creuset worked perfectly. I do not recommend using a smaller pot since this dough rose beautifully as it baked and pretty much filled the entire pot at the end of the baking time.
Enriched yeast dough, a hefty dose of cinnamon, and a mix of light brown and white sugar swirled throughout, bathed in butter, then drizzled with icing – plus, only one rise and a different technique for baking it up! (Think babka meets Jim Lahey’s No-Knead bread.) Why wouldn’t you want to dive into this recipe?
I love that the ingredients are everyday pantry ingredients. Plus, being that there’s only one rise, it didn’t take all day planning around and babysitting the dough. My only challenge was finding the right size Dutch oven. (I only have a smaller oval shape but I really wanted to make this, so I just went for it and adjusted accordingly. Because of the smaller dimension of the cooking vessel, the bake-time took a little longer and the dough rose higher. But that’s okay, as it turned out perfectly yummy.
The rating belies the end result, which yielded a voluminous round cinnamon-filled braided bread with a lovely, tender dough, and it certainly benefited by baking in a Dutch oven, which allowed the cake to steam, thus keeping the dough moist, while encouraging volume and a golden crust. The drizzle of vanilla glaze and toasted chopped pecans was the icing on the cake!
Originally published May 20, 2022