Swirly Cinnamon Rolls

This weekend I have mostly been making cinnamon swirly buns. I’ve had some disasters with making my own bread in the past, but these turned out pretty well.

The key to making these cinnamon buns well is patience. You have to let the yeast become active in gently warmed milk before trying to make the dough. You need to give the dough plenty of time to double in size before rolling out, filling with the sticky, buttery cinnamon and sugar filling, and then once that’s done, you need to let the buns begin to rise again before you attempt baking. This is lazy Sunday baking and takes a few hours, if you want to eat them for breakfast then you need to make them the night before and let the rolled up swirls have their second rise in the fridge.


Ingredients for cinnamon swirl buns

For the bun bread you will need

  • 600g strong, white bread flour
  • 250ml gently warmed whole milk
  • 1 tbsp of caster sugar to feed the yeast
  • 1 sachet (7g) of easy dried yeast
  • 2 large/3 medium eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla bean paste
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 100g golden caster sugar
  • 80g melted unsalted butter

For the cinnamon swirls filling you will need:

  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp vanilla bean paste
  • 50 g soft brown sugar
  • 30g unsalted butter
  • half a teaspoon of flavourless vegetable oil (I used sunflower)
  • 2 tbsp golden caster sugar

How to make your cinnamon swirl buns

  1. Gently warm the milk to just above body temperature and dissolve one table spoon of golden caster sugar in this. It’s critical that this milk isn’t too hot as it will kill the yeast. When you’re happy with the temperature, stir in the sachet of yeast and leave until it’s beginning to bubble slightly (it might look a little lumpy).
  2. Melt the butter over a low heat, you want it to be liquid enough to stir in easily, but not hot enough to kill the yeast when it’s combined with the warm milk.
  3. Combine the dry ingredients (holding back about a cup of the flour) in a bowl and stir thoroughly. When the wet ingredients are prepared, fold into the mixture until your dough forms.
  4. The mixture should be soft but not too sticky. Gradually add the extra cup of flour that you’ve held back from the 600g if your mixture is too wet. When you’re happy with the texture, knead the dough until it’s firm but springy. Put this in a warm place covered with a damp cloth to help it rise, this takes about an hour but will take longer if it’s a cold day or your room is chilly.
  5. Use this time to prepare the filling by mashing all of the filling ingredients together to make a smooth spread. The half teaspoon of oil will make this easier to do and will make it easier to spread on the bread when it is ready.
  6. When the dough has doubled in size, knead it again to knock a lot of the air out before forming it into a sausage shape. Roll it out into a rectangle which is about a third as long as it is wide, about 1.5cm thick.
  7. Spread your filling all over the dough, leaving about an inch border around the edges so that the dough sticks together.
  8. Roll the dough up along the long edge so you have a long thin sausage, and pinch the ends to seal. Using a very sharp knife, cut out rolls which are an inch thick.
  9. Lie these rolls on a greaseproof lined paper baking tray so that the swirl is facing up. I use a tray bake tin for this and they join together like a tear and share.
  10. Allow the bread to rise again for about half an hour, using some of this time to preheat your oven to gas mark 4. Bake at this temperature for 15-20 minutes depending on your oven.
  11. When they’ve cooled slightly, you could glaze with jam or icing. I’ll be honest, I just used a white icing pen for speed after all the waiting for things to rise.

With your arms aching from all the kneading, you’ll have plenty of time to read while everything rises. I finished reading The Yellow Birds by Kevin Powers while I was waiting.


  • Use golden caster sugar for a better colour in the bread but you can use white if that’s all you have.
  • Putting the buns close together in a baking tray helps them keep their swirl and stay moist while they bake.
  • Glazing all over the bun would probably help them keep moist longer, storing in an airtight container also helps.
  • Eat as many as possible on the day of making. They’re still great the next day with a cup of tea but they are a little stodgier then.

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