Overnight Cinnamon Swirl Bread

This cinnamon swirl bread recipe starts with a quick and easy brioche that gets an overnight rest in the refrigerator, making it easy to pull out and bake the next morning for breakfast.

December is here. Last weekend, we drove through my sister’s neighborhood on our way home, the kids squealing at every lit-up house along the way. They were especially entertained by any that featured blinking elements or trailing streams of color that your eyes chased over the rooftop.

There’s something about the cold winter air and the twinkling of holiday lights that gets me in the mood to bake. We returned home and I pulled my mixer off its shelf; I had the kids measure ingredients as we talked about our plans for the next day. As I sent them off to get ready for bed, I cleaned up the kitchen and tucked the dough into a bowl for a rest.

The next morning, a quick shape and rest later, there was warm cinnamon bread to slather with butter and pop into the toaster. The kids squealed at the pretty swirl of cinnamon that greeted them in their pajamas. Welcome to December, kids. There’s magic in the air.

Recipe Notes: You can also roll and shape the dough the night before, let the formed loaf rest in the refrigerator overnight, then pull it out to let it rest just before baking. The dough is a bit stickier and harder to work with if it hasn’t been chilled, but a heavier dusting of flour on your work surface should help alleviate any issues.

Overnight Brioche Cinnamon Swirl Bread
Prep time: 20 minutes
Rise time: 1 hour
Cook time: 50 minutes


For the bread:

  • 1/4 cup warm milk
  • 1 tablespoon active dry yeast
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, softened
  • 3 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt

For the cinnamon swirl and baking:

  • 2 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon fresh grated nutmeg
  • 1/4 cup raisins, optional
  • 1 tablespoon turbinado sugar


  1. In a stand mixer, combine the warm milk and yeast. Allow to stand for 5 minutes. Add in all the remaining ingredients. Mix for 10 minutes, stopping once to scrape the sides of the bowl, until a smooth dough is formed.
  2. Place the dough in a large bowl and cover it loosely with plastic wrap. Let it rise in a warm place for 1 hour, until doubled in size. Transfer the dough to the refrigerator and allow to rest overnight.
  3. Line a loaf pan with parchment. Lightly flour your work surface and the dough before removing it from the bowl. Gather the dough into a ball and then roll it out on the work surface to create a 10-by-15-inch rectangle. Brush it with the melted butter.
  4. Combine the brown sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg; sprinkle the mixture evenly over the dough. Sprinkle evenly with raisins, if desired. Roll the dough from the short side into a log. Fold over the ends to fit in the loaf pan and set it in the pan.
  5. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Cover the loaf and place it in a warm spot as the oven preheats. Allow the dough to rest for 30 minutes.
  6. Brush the dough with the remaining butter and sprinkle with the turbinado sugar. Transfer the pan to the oven and bake for 45 to 50 minutes, or until the top is golden brown. Remove from the oven and cool slightly before slicing.

Makes 1 loaf.

Photo credit: Shaina Olmanson