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Orange Cinnamon Swirl Bread

What would a bread book be without a recipe for a sugar and spice swirl” asks Beth Hensperger, before sharing her recipe for Orange Cinnamon Swirl bread with the readers of The Bread Bible. Ms. Hensperger’s book is her bread bible, containing 300 of her favorite recipes. The otherbread bible, by Nancy Silverton was published a few years after this one. I personally find the latter book to be good in terms of usefulness, but rather more intimidating. I really love Beth Hensperger’s recipes and have several of her other books, as well. She is talented – not just at baking, but at all types of cooking – inspirational and accessible. I definately recommend this book.

I haven’t made a simple swirled loaf before and I couldn’t resist the twist of orange that she added to this one.
Generally, I tend to want to make cinnamon buns or something if I am rolling bread up in a swirl. Since these generally come out well, I figured that I wouldn’t have too much difficulty with this week’s recipe. But this particular post serves as a good reminder that no matter how good you think you’re getting at shaping breads, there will always be room for improvement. In other words, when making a loaf that you want to hold its shape, make sure that you pinch it shut very well. I even put the seam side down and still had some slight malformation. No matter, though. It gives the loaves character.

I used freshly squeezed orange juice, though store-bought will be fine. Do be sure to include the orange zest, though. The dough was firm and easy to handle, after it came together very easily. I used slightly less butter than called for when adding my cinnamon layer, but brushed the rest over the tops of the loaves to make a lovely brown crust. Due to the inclusion of egg and butter, the bread was baked at a low temperature.

The really impressive thing about these loaves was the taste. A hint of orange, a hint of cinnamon and a slight sweetness worked perfectly with the soft, yielding texture of the bread. The final product tasted much richer than I had anticipated, since it has only a moderate amount of butter and egg for how incredibly good it tastes. It is satisfying on its own, makes killer toast and incredible french toast, particularly if you add an extra pinch of cinnamon to your french toast batter.

Orange Cinnamon Swirl Bread

(from Beth Hensperger’s The Bread Bible)

1/4 cup warm water (110F)

1 tbsp active dry yeast

1 cup warm milk (lowfat or skim is fine)

1 cup orange juice, fresh if possible, at room temperature

1/2 cup sugar

4 tbsp butter, melted

2-3 tsp orange zest

2 eggs, room temperature

2 tsp salt

6 1/2 to 7 1/2 cups ap flour


2/3 cup sugar

1 1/2 tbsp ground cinnamon

2 tbsp butter, melted, for brushing

In a large bowl, combine water and yeast.
Let stand for 5-10 minutes, until foamy. Add milk, orange juice, sugar, butter, orange zest, eggs, salt and 2 cups flour and mix, either by hand or with an electric mixer, until thorougly combined.
Add in 1 cup flour and stir for one minute (use the dough hook from this point on if using a mixer). Add remaining flour 1/2 cup at a time until dough comes together into a firm ball and no longer sticks to the sides of the bowl. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead for an additional 2 minutes, shaping dough into a ball. I used a bit more than 6 1/2 cups of flour, then worked in some more as I kneaded the dough.
Place dough in a large, lightly greased bowl, covered with plastic wrap, to rise until doubled, 1 – 1 1/2 hours.
Grease two 4×9 inch loaf pans with butter or oil.
Combine 2/3 cup sugar and 1 1/2 tbsp ground cinnamon in a small bowl.
Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface and divide into two equal pieces. Working with one piece at a time, roll dough out into an 8×12 inch rectangle. It’s okay to approximate the size. Leaving a one inch border, brush dough with melted butter and sprinkle evenly with 1/2 cinnamon mixture. Starting with the shorter side, roll dough up tightly, pinching the ends and the seam together very well. Rolling with your hands on the edge of the dough will help maintain the shape of the bread as you roll it.
Place, seam side down, in one of the prepared pans. Repeat with remaining dough. Brush tops of loaves with any unused melted butter and cover loaves with plastic wrap. Let rise for 40 minutes, until about 1/2-1 inch over the top edge of the pan.
While loaves are rising, preheat oven to 350F.
Bake risen loaves for 40-45 minutes, until loaves have a nice brown top crust.
Turn out of pans immediately and allow to cool completely on wire racks before slicing.
Makes 2 loaves.

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  • bokbaksa
    November 17, 2005

    Hello Nic.
    This bread look so fabulous. I really wonder the taste of it(mixing cinnamon and orange)

  • Heather
    November 17, 2005

    This bread looks great! Do you think I could make it and omit the orange Juice? would I have to substitute in something else? I do not have oh about any experience making breads, but I thought I might give it a try.

  • Mika
    November 17, 2005

    I love the flavor combo in this bread. I recently bought Beth’s bread bible but later found not so favorable comments about the book on egullet. Your suggestions and modifications would be helpful for sure when I try this recipe.

  • Nic
    November 17, 2005

    Bokbaksa – It’s really great. Quite different!

    Heather – You could substitute water but the bread wouldn’t be the same. It is, after all, an Orange Cinnamon Swirl. The bread would be much plainer without it. I really recommend using the orange juice here.

    Mika – I hadn’t noticed any unfavorable comments, but eGulleters tend to be very critical. They don’t seem to like Nancy Silverton’s book too much, either. People with the stongest opinions tend to be the ones who speak up and, in any forum really, the negative people usually feel the most strongly, even if the majority of people like the book. Of course, I can’t speak for others, but I do like the book and the author.

  • Raquel
    November 17, 2005

    I am so glad you posted this recipe. My dad loves peppridge farm cinnamon swirl bread and I buy him a loaf every year. But a homemade loaf would be even better and much more special. I cant wait to try this one. Thanks!

  • karen w
    November 17, 2005

    Hi Nic~
    Just discovered your blog today. OMG it’s awesome. I want to go home and start baking. Right Now! I do believe Cinnamon Swirl Bread will be in the queue this weekend.
    Looking forward to reading the archives.

  • Roberta
    November 17, 2005

    I really like all the versatile recipes you offer on your site. If you have a moment during your busy day sometime, please visit my site
    Recipes On The Go. Thanks for visiting my site, I will definitely be back to yours.

  • Tana
    November 17, 2005

    Hi, Nic, I am letting all my foodie blogging friends (especially those who feature baking on their blogs) know about a very special entry on my blog. Yesterday, Patricia Rain, aka “The Vanilla Queen,” wrote a piece about the importance of real vanilla, which is threatened with extinction due to some pretty crappy business and governmental practices. Please come check it out, and help spread the word about real vanilla, if you feel as strongly about it as I do.

    It’s here: The Vanilla Queen Speaks.

    Many thanks, and please forgive the cookie-cutter alert. I subscribe to nearly 200 blogs! (Doo wacka doo!)

  • Ana
    November 17, 2005

    Nic, this bread looks fabulous. Would I be able to make it in the bread machine? One day, when I retire and the house is finished, I will make all my bread by hand. I promise, I promise, I promise!

  • Nic
    November 17, 2005

    Raquel – That is a fantastic (and thoughtful) gift idea!

    Karen – Welcome, and thank you!

    Rachel – I’ll check it out.

    Tana – Thanks for the heads up. It’s a fantastic article.

    Ana – In the book I used (linked in the post), there is a whole section of recipes specifically for a bread machine. It might just be safer to try one of those, but halving the recipe might work, too.

  • Cathy
    November 18, 2005

    Hi Nic – the bread sounds delicious, the combination of orange and vanilla sounds really good. French toast? Mmmmm…

  • Lady Amalthea
    November 20, 2005

    French toast made out of this just sounds sinfully delicious!

  • Anonymous
    November 22, 2005

    I had the pleasure of having this entire loaf!! Of course, I shared it with everyone in the office but it was SOOOOOOO yummy!! Thanks Nikki K!!!!!!

  • keiko
    November 24, 2005

    Nic, this is beautiful. It sounds really intriguing too, thank you for inspring us with your lovely recipe as always 😉

  • Anonymous
    June 20, 2006

    How do you prevent the swirl from opening up when the bread is baked? It always seems to happen at the seam.

    Also why is the texture hard and dry?

  • Nic
    June 20, 2006

    Anonymous – If you bread was hard and dry, you definitely over-baked it.
    And to prevent the seam of the bread from “opening,” you need to not only pinch the seam shut, but place it facing down in the loaf pan.

  • shivani
    June 27, 2006

    if i replace fresh orange juice with packed orange juice do I need to reduce the amount of sugar in the recipe as the store bought orange juice is quite sweet

  • Latha
    January 31, 2009


    Can I half the recipe to make one loaf? If not, can I freeze the loaf?


  • Laurel
    January 22, 2011

    So I’m really hoping that this works out. I’ve got a recipe from my aun that is similar and I can’t find it so I’m going to give this one a shot because it looks about right.

    To answer some questions the bread is divine when combined. YES you need the orange juice, and if you used packed it would make sense to make the OJ as directed and then grab your juice from there. You can freeze the loaf once baked and then bring it out. its great!

  • Roberta Worley
    December 25, 2012

    Typically, I purchase raw milk for drinking as well as for using in baking and cooking. As I ran out of time to get some, I used organic vanilla ice cream as a substitute for the milk in your French toast batter recipe. It turned out quite well!

    In addition, I served Beth Hensperger’s orange syrup recipe. Quite nummers, as my husband would say!

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