Cinnamon Swirl French Toast


It is Sunday morning, the sun is shining, the snow is finally melting and I’m as happy as could be! Seems the perfect time to have a lavish, albeit easy, breakfast. Last night I took out my bucket of brioche dough, rolled in some cinnamon sugar and baked a gorgeous swirly bread. This morning I sliced it, soaked it in custard and made it into sublime French toast. Nothing better than that and with a bucket of dough on hand it is quick and easy.

Here are some other great breakfast ideas from our books/website:

Bacon & Egg in Toast

Homemade English Muffins

Aunt Melissa’s Granola

Almond Bear Claws

Fresh Fruit “Muffins”

Apricot Pastry

Breakfast Pizza

Cinnamon Swirl Bread:

2 pounds of Brioche dough

1/2 cup sugar

2 teaspoons cinnamon

egg wash (one egg mixed with 1 tablespoon water)

For French Toast:

6 eggs

1 cup 1/2 & 1/2

1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract

1/4 cup brown sugar

1 teaspoon cinnamon

pinch salt

To make the Cinnamon Swirl Bread:

cinnamon toast

Start with 2 pounds of brioche dough (page 189) or any other dough that you love. Form it into a ball to create a smooth surface.

cinnamon toast

Roll the dough with a rolling pin till it’s about 1/8″ thick.


Combine the sugar and cinnamon in a small bowl. Spread 1/3 of the cinnamon sugar over the surface of the dough. If you want more cinnamon or sugar, go for it, but save some for sprinkling on top of the cooking French Toast! If you want to add raisins here is a post on fabulous Raisin Bread.


Starting at the long end of the rectangle roll the dough,

cinnamon toast

pinch the seam shut.

cinnamon toast

Place in a well greased non-stick 8 1/2 x 4 1/2 Loaf Pan. Allow to rest for about 1 hour and 45 minutes, or until the dough no longer feels chilled.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

cinnamon toast

Paint the risen dough with egg wash using a Pastry Brush and dust with sugar before baking.

cinnamon toast

Bake for about 45-50 minutes or until golden brown. Allow to cool for about 5 minutes in the pan and then remove the bread to finish cooling.


Cut the loaf into six 1/2 inch slices and place into a shallow, flat dish. The dish needs to allow the bread to sit flat so it can soak up the custard.


Whisk the custard together in a bowl and then pour over the sliced bread.


Flip the bread over a few times to make sure that it is soaking up all the custard. You may have to soak the bread in batches if your dish is not large enough to hold it all at once.


I like to cook mine at 275 degrees on my new 22-Inch Jumbo Electric Griddle, so I can do many slices at once. Right before you flip the toast over to cook the other side, sprinkle it with more of the cinnamon sugar and it will caramelize as it cooks. Depending on how thick your slices are and how much custard they absorbed they will take between 8-12 minutes to cook. Be sure to cut a small hole in the center and press the toast to see if any wet custard comes out. If it is still wet then cook for a few more minutes.


Slather in butter and maple syrup or what ever you fancy, Enjoy!

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116 thoughts to “Cinnamon Swirl French Toast”

  1. Jeff and Zoe – I have just found out about your books (where have I been??!!) and have requested both for Mother’s Day. I think it is so incredibly wonderful of you to maintain this website and answer everyone’s questions in such detail. I have a question for you that I hope doesn’t seem flippant: how do you make all this wonderful bread every day and not gain weight? You both look very trim in your photos and videos. (Perhaps you both have naturally high metabolism? Sigh.) I’m very eager to try your recipes, but also a little scared of turning my bread-loving family into Sta-Puft marshmallow men!



    1. Rose: Turns out there isn’t much variation between people in baseline metabolism (your body’s energy consumption at rest), once you account for differences in people’s ideal weight. So yes, tall people can eat more without gaining weight. Makes sense— they need more food to support that extra height.

      But aside from that, the (boring) news is that weight gain over time is just based on simple arithmetic. If you consume more energy than you expend every day, over time you will gain weight. If you consumed about 120 calories a day more than you worked off, you would gain about a pound a month (a pound of fat has about 3500 calories in it). In two years you would gain 25 pounds.

      So why haven’t we gained weight writing and testing these books? Managing portion size, avoiding soda/pop, and avoiding junk food in general. And exercise every day. You don’t have to train for the marathon, just a walk will make a difference. That’s basically what I do– yes, I do belong to a gym.

      Another way to think about it is that great bread needs to REPLACE other energy sources in your diet. So I value great bread over any dessert, for example. Jeff

  2. Thanks, Jeff. I do cook with healthy, natural ingredients and avoid sugar, junk food, etc., and we exercise as well (my whole family of 7 does the same). And I agree with you – I’d rather have great bread than dessert any day! I think the key for bread lovers like my family is just to make one small loaf at a time, to keep temptation at bay. I made my first loaf using your Master Recipe from the first book the other day, and it was just fabulous. I had just one piece, and let my kids (teenagers) gobble up the rest. We all loved it!

  3. Hello –
    Quick technical question. Is the pan a 1 lb. loaf pan or a 1 1/2 lb loaf pan? I think the dimensions are for a 1 lb pan, but when I opened the link, it offered both sizes – just wanted to double check before I ordered! Can’t wait to make it! Thanks!

  4. Ok…what am I doing wrong? My cinnamon swirl bread tasted just like a bakery style product, but there were giant gaps between the filling and bread. Any suggestions or tips?

  5. Have you made this with a hallah dough instead of Brioche? Is there anything different I should do if using the hallah recipe? Thank you, Debi

    1. Debi: The Hallah dough will work just fine, I’d leave everything the same. The effect will be a little less buttery/eggy. Jeff

  6. Hello,
    I have a question about the cinnamon Twists and turns in the ABin5 book: how thin approx. is the dough supposed to be? And how long are those twists? The book mentioned 15 min rest time, so I shouldn’t expect any rise at all? Thanks so much for answering the questions.

    1. Rosalina: It’s 1/8-inch thick, and no, you won’t see significant rise. You can make the twists any length you like. Jeff

  7. this is the FIRST thing I’m going to try. I LOVE French Toast. I cut my bread a bit thicker and fry it in a pan to do out outside then finish it up in the oven to bake up the middle . Bread pudding inside’s awesome!

  8. I made this bread today and it was scrumptious. One question for inquiring minds… how the heck did you fold your bread into the pan so that you got such pretty swirls? I’d like to see it step by step 🙂

    1. Penny: Sorry it wasn’t clearer– you just roll it like a jelly roll– let us know if that doesn’t help. Jeff

  9. I realized after I asked that Zoe had already answered someone and the edges were folded under to create the very interesting swirls. I should have finished reading through everything before I jumped to questions. My bread tasted wonderful and is added to my ‘must do often’ list. Thanks so much for a wonderful recipe!

  10. I seem to have issues whenever I try to roll out the master recipe to make things like this…it keeps wanting to shrink back in towards the center and it takes me quite a while to get it rolled out, and even then I think I often end up with it thicker than in the recipe. Any suggestions?

    1. Taryn: If you’re having trouble with springback, just let the dough rest as soon as it starts behaving that way. Come back to the partially-rolled out dough in 5 min (10, the max), and it will miraculously have “relaxed.” Jeff

  11. Oh my! Cinnamon bread has been on my list of things I want to make–but I’m not so good with yeast and slightly intimidated! Thanks for the step-by-step photos–so helpful! Looks great!

  12. I thought this looked delicious, so I made some brioche dough yesterday and put the loaf together this afternoon. It’s in the oven now, and it’s exploded out the top–what I mean is the top crust actually split wide open and you can see the next layer of bread in the gaping hole.
    Your bread looks so pretty with only a small crack–any ideas?
    Thanks so much for making all these wonderful breads accessible people like me, who because of you have now overcome their ‘yeast phobia’ and joined the ranks of those who can make homemade bread!

    1. Hi Lisa,

      Sometimes this can be an indication that the loaf needs to rest a bit longer, but it is also just what the bread does. You can make a small slit in the top so that it will open in a more controlled way.

      Thanks, Zoe

  13. Would this same recipe work with a) peasant bread and b) adding rasins? I desperately want cinnamon raisin toast this weekend (and dont have the book with me)

    1. Hi Erin,

      Yes, it will work, but it will not be as sweet. You will need to soak the bread a little longer, since it is a firmer loaf.

      Thanks, Zoë

  14. I made this using challah dough instead of brioche. Every time I’ve tried to make a recipe where you roll stuff into the dough, the layers separate when it bakes, and I have gaps when I slice the bread. It happened with this bread, too. It tasted fine, and the egg mixture helped keep it together, but I wish I could figure out how to keep this from happening. I thought I had rolled this loaf up pretty tightly when I made it. Anything else I could do to try to improve my techique? Thanks!

    1. Hmm.. maybe you’re using too much flour as you dust and roll it out. If it were a bit stickier, this might take care of itself?

  15. my Brioche dough, looked great out of the fridge. doubled in size. rolled out 2 pounds of dough and spread cinnamon & sugar. rolled up & placed seam side down in 1 pd loaf pan. it’s been resting for @ an hour and 15 minutes & it doesn’t look as though it has risen at all. what could I have done wrong? should I let it rest longer than the 1 hour 45 minutes, before baking? will it rise in the oven, still? Just got the bread in 5 book & this is my second bread. first was the master recipe…

    1. Our stuff doesn’t get that much lift from the resting phase– more from oven spring. This is normal, I think you’ll be happy when you bake it.

      1. I’m putting it in now, wish me luck. in the pictures it looks like it almost doubled before being brushed with egg. that’s what has/had me worried. my son’s favorite bread is Cinnamon bread that we get once a year from a bakery on vacation…would love to get something 1/2 as good. my past experiments have been, not so good.

  16. turned out pretty good. I need to roll tighter, the swirl wasn’t the best…can I use the master recipe for a denser bread? also, which recipe would be best if I want to make rolls for meatall subs or beef sandwiches?

    1. It’ll be different, not so much denser. No enrichment or eggs, so it’s just a different effect. Enriched or slightly enriched is best for rolls, you want a soft crust. Or use a non-enriched, but paint the top crust with oil or melted butter just before baking and when they come out of the oven.

    1. Hi Emma,

      After you roll it into a log, you will stretch it out until it is long enough that you can tuck the two
      ends under and they meet up in the center. It is basically a ring shape. I hope that makes it clear?

      Thanks, Zoë

      1. Yep, thanks. I have tried quite a few of your recipes and they were all surefire.

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