If you make one sweet sourdough bread, Sourdough Cinnamon Twist Wreath Bread should be it! When there’s a family birthday, holiday, or celebration, this bread always brings joy and delight to the table.
My family has tried some pretty incredible and unique breads that I developed for classes and my two cookbooks, but we still come back to this bread as our favorite!
It looks beautiful and has the most delicious swirls of sweet cinnamon without being overly sweet. Use a large cast iron skillet to get a delicious caramelized brown sugar crust on the bottom.
This post will help you make this incredible bread with some tips, time planning, a shaping video, and, of course, the recipe.
Benefits of using sourdough in this cinnamon twist wreath bread
The two main reasons I use sourdough are more digestible breads and the unmatched flavor.
- Sourdough breaks down the gluten proteins into smaller pieces during the long fermentation which means less stomach and digestive irritation. Learn more about sourdough here or get my free sourdough quick start guide.
- Sourdough breads begin with a starter or levain which is a mixture of flour, water, and sourdough starter that ferments for 6-12 hours on average to develop an incredible intense flavor that enhances every ingredient in the bread! Which typically means less added sugar than breads made with conventional yeast.
These wonderful benefits also require extra time compared to breads made with quick yeast. So you will need to plan your time to make it accordingly.
How do you plan your bake?
For your planning:
- 10-14 hours for starter preparation
- 4-7 hours bulk fermentation
- 2-5 hours proofing
The variation is impacted by ingredient temperature and room temperature. So if your house runs cold, you may need the longer end of the range of time.
If you want to make this for a Saturday morning brunch, I already created a timing example here that you can follow to make a memorable bread to share with family or friends.
See the video to watch the shaping process in fast motion and see the bread before and after proofing:
What if I want this for breakfast?
Refrigeration is a great way to delay or slow the fermentation process if you’d like to have a recipe proofed and ready to bake by morning but not overproofed by sitting out overnight. The example below includes my method for serving this hot and fresh on my Christmas breakfast table:
- December 23rd (Christmas Adam) Evening*: prepare the starter and leave at room temperature. *It takes 8-14 hours to become active so define evening as early evening.
- Christmas Eve Morning: prepare the dough, cover, and leave at room temp until doubled in volume
- Christmas Eve Afternoon: Prepare filling, shape the dough, cover, and leave at room temp to proof for 2-3 hours
- Christmas Eve Evening: The layers should look puffy and beginning to pull apart. Put shaped dough into the fridge for overnight.
- Christmas morning: Bring the shaped dough out of the fridge and let it come to temperature for 30-60 minutes. Preheat oven then bake the bread. Let it cool for about 15 minutes before cutting and serving.
7 important things to know when making this Sourdough Cinnamon Twist Wreath Bread
- This recipe uses a 100% hydration starter. This style of starter is familiar to most sourdough bakers making it easier to attempt this recipe. I use a 2 qt. cambro container when making large batches of starter like this one.
- Using a large cast iron skillet adds to the texture of this bread, it also traps the butter and sugar as it melts so it re-caramelizes on the bread. A large pie dish can be substituted, but won’t have the same texture.
- Whole milk is used in this recipe and adds an incredible richness to the dough. I wouldn’t recommend swapping it for a leaner milk since there isn’t a lot of fat in the dough itself.
- The scalding or warming of the milk may not seem like it matters, but I’ve done side by side tests and can confirm it makes a difference. Scalding the milk neutralizes some of the proteins to create better fermentation.
- Make sure to allow your scalded milk to cool down to 80-100 degrees F before adding the other ingredients.
- Cinnamon type and freshness matters. Make sure your cinnamon is fresh! I highly recommend Vietnamese cinnamon for its higher oil content, this is the one I use and buy in bulk!
- Use a sharp serrated bread knife to cut the rolled dough during the shaping. This creates the best cut. Smooth steak knives will drag and will cause trouble in trying to cut through the layers of dough. Shun is my favorite bread knife, but I also love my Wusthof that I’ve had for 14 years and it is less expensive.
- This dough is very beginner friendly and a breeze for all sourdough skill levels.
- Don’t rush the timeline. Plan your time well and make sure it is fully fermented before shaping and that you wait until it is proofed before baking. The butter in the dough slows the fermentation down considerably. See these articles on bulk fermentation and proofing for helpful tips and indications of readiness.
Share your bake with me
If you’re planning to make this and want to bake alongside your sourdough besties, use the share button to make sure they have this recipe.
After you try it, send me a note, leave a review comment, or tag me on facebook or instagram @livingbreadbaker
I enjoy seeing how you share this bread for the holiday with your family and friends. It has been a special part of joyful memories in our home and I’m so happy it can be a part of yours!
Need more help?
I’d love to support you with my books or online courses.
Along with my Once-a-Week No Knead Sourdough online course, I also have a Intro. To Sourdough online course if you are ready to gain a solid foundation for sourdough, the traditional way, to learn all the basics, language, techniques, and the process from start to finish to make sourdough bread.
The foundations of Intro. to Sourdough will help you to branch out to special occasion recipes like this one because you become familiar with sourdough starter care, sourdough timelines, and the general process and steps.
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2 qt. and 4 qt. Cambro set for dough bulk ferment (I use the smaller one for large batches of starter)
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Cinnamon Twist Bread (Sourdough)
- Food Scale
- Mixing Bowl
- Saucepan or Small Pot
- Rolling Pin
- Parchment Paper
- Large cast iron skillet (or use pie dish or baking sheet)
- serrated bread knife
For the starter
- 15 g sourdough starter (1 tablespoon)
- 100 g water (1/2 c.)
- 100 g all-purpose flour (2/3 c., bread flour is fine)
For the dough
- 180 g Whole Milk, warmed (3/4 c.)
- 15 g white cane sugar (or honey) (1 T.)
- 200 g active, prepared starter (about 1 c., made in step 1)
- 370 g Bread flour (all-purpose is okay) (2 c. and 7 1/2 T.)
- 28 g Unsalted Butter, softened (2 T.)
- 1 egg yolk
- 6 g salt (1 t.)
For the filling
- 100 g Unsalted Butter, softened (7 1/2 T.)
- 60 g brown sugar (1/4 c. plus 1 T.)
- 8 g Cinnamon, ground (1 T.)
- Make the Starter: 8 to 12 hours before mixing your dough, combine the ingredients for the starter in a clean container. Cover and let activate until it doubles, is very bubbly, smells fragrant like ripe fruit.
- Warm the milk: Measure out the milk (add a little extra to account for some of the volume to steam off) into a saucepan and cook over medium heat until you begin to see the steam rising off it or until it reaches a temperature of 130° to 140º F.
- Scale: Place a mixing bowl on the scale, tare the weight of the scale, and pour in 180 grams of the warm milk. Add 28 grams of butter, the sugar or honey, and 200 grams of the starter, using a spoon to gently stir and break it apart. Add the flour. (When using the scale to measure ingredients, use the tare function to remove the weight of the mixing bowl and other previous ingredients so you can weigh each individual ingredient easily as you add each one to the bowl.)
- Mix: Stir together with a spoon until partially combined. Add the egg yolk and salt and continue mixing the dough using a dough scraper to scrape the sides of the bowl. (if you have a stand mixer and a dough hook, use it to mix and knead the dough).
- Knead: Knead the mixture with your hands and using a dough scraper, either in the bowl or on a clean work surface (or in the stand mixer) for 5 to 10 minutes, until the dough is smooth and releases easily from the bowl or work surface.
- Bulk fermentation: Cover the dough and leave it at room temperature to ferment for 4 to 7 hours, until about doubled.
- Stretch and folds: At least 30 minutes into the bulk fermentation, to further strengthen the dough, pull one quarter of the dough upwards and fold it over the middle. Repeat this process with the other three quarters of the dough. Re-cover the dough. This step can be done every 30 minutes, up to 3 times, during bulk fermentation for maximum development of dough strength.
- Prepare the filling: In a mixing bowl, beat the butter, sugar, and cinnamon together to create a smooth, creamy mixture. Set aside.
- Prepare the skillet: Line a large cast-iron skillet or a baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Shape: Transfer the dough to a floured work surface. Using a floured rolling pin, roll the dough into a 12-by-18-inch rectangle. With a spatula, spread the filling over the dough with a spatula, leaving a ½ inch margin around the edges. Starting at one of the long sides of the dough, roll up the dough tightly into a long cylinder and press to seal the seam. Starting 2 inches from one end of the dough, cut the cylinder in half lengthwise, making sure the top is still connected. Starting where the dough is connected, braid the two open halves together so that the inside layers are exposed. Take the end of the braided dough and tuck it over the end that is connected and under where the braid began to create a round wreath shape. Carefully lift the wreath and place it onto the center of the parchment paper in the skillet or baking sheet.
- Proof: Cover the dough with a kitchen towel and proof for 1.5 to 3 hours at room temperature, until nearly doubled and a finger lightly pressed into the dough slowly rises back.
- Preheat: Preheat the oven to 375º F.
- Bake: Bake for 30 to 35 minutes until it is golden-brown on the edges.
- Cool: Transfer the skillet or baking sheet to a cooling rack and let cool for 10 to 15 minutes to allow the melted brown sugar and butter on the base to harden and create a sweet and crunchy bottom crust. Transfer to a plate and serve.