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Once in a while I like to do something slightly different than our regular sourdough bread, such as Swirl Bread or Swirl Rolls.

Cinnamon swirl bread is super popular with my little boy. It is takes only a few extra minutes to turn our Minimal Knead Sourdough Sandwich Bread into a swirl loaf. My bread recipe makes four loaves which means I can make one loaf of swirl bread and still have three loaves of regular sandwich bread.


Make your favorite bread. Divide into the usual number of loaves. Choose one portion (I usually pick the smallest portion to turn into a swirl).

Optional: If you like a sweeter bread you can knead a dry sweetener such as Sucanat into the loaf before moving on to the next step. Use anywhere from 2 tablespoons to a half cup depending on your own preferences for sweetness.  This also results in the end loaf/rolls browning slightly more. 

Lightly flour a cutting board or section of your counter and roll the bread out. Then generously butter the dough (about 1/4 cup softened butter) add cinnamon sugar (1/4 to 1/2 cup of Sucanat or other favorite dry sweetener plus 1 tablespoon cinnamon mixed together) you can also add raisins if you wish. You could skip the cinnamon and just make a sweet bread. Or use savory ingredients (see below for ideas).

Whatever you add be sure that you keep it away from the edge of the dough (about 1/2 to 3/4 inch inside) so it doesn’t all fall out in the rolling and baking steps.

Swirl Loaf or Swirl Rolls

Now you are ready to roll.

Start at the smallest edge and gently roll up being careful not to lose your filling. Cinnamon sugar stays in fairly well. If you use larger things (like crumbled cheese) you may have to be more careful.

You can make a larger size square than the one in the picture and get a few more swirls. I did this one to fit on my cutting board and to fit in my loaf pan.

Once it is rolled up you have a decision to make.

Will you make a Swirl Loaf or Swirl Rolls?

Either is the right decision. 😉

For a Swirl Loaf you can very carefully move your rolled up dough to a well buttered bread pan or leave it more ‘free-form’ by moving it to a buttered baking sheet.  I’ve done both and each turns out quite nice.

Once you have decided on the loaf pan or the “free form” (baking sheet), cover with a cloth and let rise for a couple of hours.  Bake for 15 minutes at 425 degrees then turn down to 325 and bake for 35 to 45 minutes until bread is done (it should sound hollow when thumped).  I bake it alongside the regular bread loaves.

Swirl Bread is delicious toasted, it is wonderful topped with cream cheese and makes a terrific French Toast.

Swirl Bread

Swirl Rolls

If you decided to make Swirl Rolls follow these steps.

Butter a baking dish (something like this 8 x 8 square from Amazon works well). Once the dough is rolled up, very gently cut the rolled dough into 1/2 to 3/4 inch pieces. I use a serrated knife for this.

You want to be extremely careful so your fillings do not fall out.  Now carefully move the each cut piece to your buttered baking dish allowing them to slightly touch.

You want your swirls facing up (think cinnamon rolls). Cover with a cloth and allow to rise for a couple of hours.

Bake at 325 for 30 minutes (plus or minus) until the rolls are no longer gooey.  Remove from oven and allow to cool.

Sometimes I move them to a rack for cooling if they look like they are holding together well. If they are looking ‘fragile’ just leave them in the pan to cool.  They should hold together better when slightly cool. You can serve them warm or if you are doing a sweet roll you may wish to let them cool completely and add some sort of frosting.  The picture below is Sweet Rolls (only butter and Sucanat  for the filling) frosted with a combination of butter, yogurt cheese, honey and lemon zest.

Swirl Rolls

Savory or Sweet?

While cinnamon always makes a lovely bread or roll, savory sometimes fits the bill. The sky is the limit with filling options.

A few suggestions:

  • Cheddar cheese and bacon
  • Mozzarella, sun-dried tomatoes (rehydrated and chopped small), fresh garlic, and fresh basil
  • Mozzarella with pesto
  • Cheddar cheese with fresh herbs
  • Olive Tapenade
  • Parmesan, sauteed mushrooms and herbs

If you make your swirl rolls sweet they are a wonderful breakfast, snack or dessert.  Savory style swirl rolls go great alongside soup, as a wonderful snack or, depending on the fillings, might even make a light meal.

Swirl Bread and Swirl Rolls are very versatile. Have fun experimenting with fillings you have on hand.

Have you made a Swirl Bread or Rolls before? What are your favorite fillings?

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