Apple Cinnamon Bread

A swirl of apple, brown sugar, and cinnamon in every slice.

Apple Cinnamon Bread
Photo: Photographer: Jennifer Causey Food Stylist: Melissa Gray Prop Stylist: Christina Daley
Active Time:
45 mins
Total Time:
3 hrs 45 mins
Servings:
16
Yield:
2 loaves

If you're a fan of homemade bread, as well as the delicious combination of apples and cinnamon, then mark this yeast bread recipe as your next baking project.

Bins of fresh apples at the farmers' market signal the beginning of fall, as well as the fall baking season—that wonderful time of year when Southern bakers pull out the family favorite recipes and whip up their very best apple desserts.

The addition of warm spices, such as cinnamon, further enhances the flavor of the apples. If there is anything that fills the kitchen with a comforting aroma more than an apple and cinnamon pie, it is a loaf of fresh homemade yeast bread. Why not combine the two?

This recipe makes two loaves so you can enjoy one loaf, freeze the other, or give it as a gift. This apple cinnamon bread is delicious sliced straight off the loaf, or try it toasted, smeared with butter, and sprinkled with flaky sea salt.

Apple Cinnamon Bread Ingredients

Here are the key ingredients for making Apple Cinnamon Bread. These must-haves are the secret to ensuring this bread comes out fluffy and delicious:

Active dry yeast

This apple cinnamon bread recipe uses active dry yeast, not to be confused with rapid rise (or quick rising) yeast, instant yeast, or fresh yeast. All yeasts are used differently and for different purposes, so it's important to use the right one.

In this recipe, the yeast is combined with warm water and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer and left to stand for 5 minutes to "proof." The warm water dissolves the coating on the yeast and it begins to consume the sugar. Small bubbles should start to appear after 5 minutes, as the yeast, if alive, starts to digest the sugar and produce carbon dioxide.

Truth be told, as long as the yeast you are using was purchased in the last few months it's okay to skip this step and add the yeast to the rest of the dry ingredients, but when in doubt it never hurts to check if it's alive.

Bread flour

It may seem obvious to use bread flour for bread, but all sorts of bread recipes use different kinds of flours for different reasons. This Apple Cinnamon Bread recipe uses bread flour because of its higher protein content than all-purpose flour. More protein means more gluten, and gluten is what gives bread its characteristic chew.

Apples

The kind of apples you use when baking are important because they impact both flavor and texture. Granny Smith apples are used in this recipe because their firm texture means they hold up while baking, leaving distinct chunks of apples swirled into each slice of bread instead of applesauce in the center.

How to Make Apple Cinnamon Bread

Bread can seem like a complicated process, but follow this procedure and you'll have fresh bread in no time.

1. Mix the dough

Combine yeast, warm water, and two teaspoons of the sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer; let stand until yeast bubbles and foams.

yeast in warm water in measuring cup
Dotdash Meredith

Add eggs, salt, lemon juice, ¼ cup of the oil, half of the bread flour, and remaining sugar to the bowl beat on low speed, using the paddle attachment, until combined. Increase the speed to medium and beat until the dough is homogenous and almost smooth. Reduce speed to low and gradually beat in the remaining flour until mixture forms a soft dough.

2. Knead

On a floured surface knead the dough until smooth and elastic, 8 to 10 minutes. Transfer the dough to a greased bowl. Turn dough to grease top. Cover and let rise until doubled in size.

sponge: water, yeast and flour mixture
Dotdash Meredith

3. Make the filling

Combine apples and apple cider in a medium microwaveable glass bowl. Microwave on HIGH (100%) power until softened. Drain and let cool to room temperature. Stir together brown sugar, flour, and cinnamon in a small bowl.

4. Form the bread

Punch dough down and place on a floured work surface. Divide dough in half. Roll each dough half into an 18-by-9-inch rectangle. Sprinkle each with half the brown sugar mixture, followed by half of the cooled apples.

Starting at the short end, tightly roll up each rectangle, jelly-roll fashion, pressing to seal edges as you roll. Pinch ends of dough to seal, and tuck ends under dough. Place each dough roll, seam side down, in two 9-by-5-inch loaf pans, lightly greased with cooking spray. Brush tops with remaining tablespoon oil. Cover and let rise until doubled in size.

5. Bake

Bake loaves in a 375°F oven until deep golden brown, 25 to 30 minutes. Transfer from pans to a wire rack, and brush with melted butter. Let cool completely, about 2 hours. Slice and serve.

How Long Should I Cook Apple Cinnamon Bread?

Our recipe bakes for 25 to 30 minutes, but because ovens can vary there are a few different ways to tell if your bread is baked. One indicator is that the loaves should sound hollow when tapped. Another way to check is to use a thermometer. Insert it into the center of the bread. If it registers an internal temperature of 190°F or above the bread is cooked.

The other thing to avoid is slicing into the bread too quickly after it comes out of the oven. The bread needs to cool completely before slicing so the center has a chance to fully and properly set. Cut too soon, and it might still be a little undercooked in the center.

How to Store Apple Cinnamon Bread

The loaves can be stored covered at room temperature for several days. It will dry out if left in the fridge, so for longer storage, plan to freeze it.

How to Freeze Apple Cinnamon Bread

Wrap the loaves sliced or unsliced (your preference) tightly in plastic wrap and then aluminum foil (or place inside a zip-top freezer bag). Freeze for up to a month and when ready to serve, remove the bread from the freezer and thaw at room temperature.

Helpful Hints

As you're baking, keep these tips in mind.

Watch the temperature

When it comes to bread, temperature can impact the process. While we give estimates for how long it takes the bread to double in size while proofing, depending on how hot or cold it is in your kitchen, this time can vary wildly. If your kitchen runs hot, above (80°F) the bread will rise faster, so check on it sooner.

If your kitchen is colder, closer to 70°F or below, it might take your bread longer to rise. Before cranking up the thermostat, try placing the bread in a cold oven with a pan of hot water underneath it. The steam and heat from the water can turn your oven into a proofer. Some ovens come with proofing settings too!

Visual clues are important for proofing. When properly proofed the bread should look puffed and doubled, if it looks like it hasn't grown much in size, then it's not ready. When proofing bread try to place it away from windows or drafts and near somewhere warm (like the oven). Do not place the bread directly on top of the oven if it is in use because it will be too hot for the bread. Bread is kind of like Goldilocks, it needs the temperature to be just right to rise properly.

Try not to make adjustments

Bread is particular and while you might be inclined to add a little less salt or more sugar, each ingredient plays a really specific role so it's best to measure carefully and stick to the script. Salt for example, not only affects taste but the color and texture of the bread; leaving it out can lead to bland bread that's difficult to work with as dough and paler when baked.

Yes, you really need to knead for that long

Kneading for eight to ten minutes is a bit of an upper arm workout, but it's also a crucial step to making bread. Kneading develops the gluten and traps air inside the dough, which helps the dough rise during baking. For those who don't want to do any kneading this is the bread recipe for you.

Editorial contributions by Alana Al-Hatlani.

Ingredients

Dough

  • 2 envelopes (¼ ounces each) active dry yeast

  • 2 cups warm water (105° to 115°F)

  • ½ cup granulated sugar, divided

  • 2 large eggs

  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt

  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice (from 1 lemon)

  • ¼ cup plus 1 tablespoon vegetable oil, divided

  • 6 cups to 6 ½ cups (about 25 ½ to 27 ounces) bread flour, divided  

  • 1 ½ tablespoons salted butter, melted

Filling

  • 2 ½ cups peeled and chopped Granny Smith apples (about ¼-in. pieces) (from 2 [8 ounce] apples)

  • 1 cup apple cider

  • ½ cup firmly packed light brown sugar

  • 4 tablespoons bread flour

  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

Directions

  1. Prepare the Dough: Combine yeast, warm water, and 2 teaspoons of the sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer; let stand 5 minutes until yeast has started to bubble and foam. Add eggs, salt, lemon juice, ¼ cup of the oil, 3 cups of the bread flour, and remaining sugar to yeast mixture; beat on low speed, using the paddle attachment, until combined, about 30 seconds. Increase speed to medium; beat until dough is homogenous and almost smooth, about 1 minute. Reduce speed to low; gradually beat in remaining 3 to 3 ½ cups flour until mixture forms a solid mass and a soft dough starts to form, about 1 minute.

  2. Turn dough out onto a well-floured work surface, and knead until smooth and elastic, 8 to 10 minutes, sprinkling surface with flour as needed. Spray a large bowl with cooking spray, and transfer dough from surface to bowl. Turn dough to grease top. Cover and let rise in a warm place (80°F), free from drafts, until doubled in bulk, about 1 hour.

  3. Meanwhile, prepare the Filling: Place apples in a medium microwaveable glass bowl; pour apple cider over apples, and stir to combine. Microwave apples on HIGH (100%) power until softened, about 4 minutes. Drain and let cool to room temperature. Stir together brown sugar, flour, and cinnamon in a small bowl.

  4. Punch dough down; turn out onto a lightly floured surface. Divide dough in half. Roll each dough half into an 18-by-9-inch rectangle. Sprinkle each rectangle with half the brown sugar mixture. Top each rectangle with half the cooled apples.

  5. Starting at 1 short end, tightly roll up each rectangle, jelly-roll fashion, pressing to seal edges as you roll. Pinch ends of dough to seal, and tuck ends under dough. Place each dough roll, seam side down, in two 9-by-5-inch loaf pans, lightly greased with cooking spray. Brush tops with remaining tablespoon oil. Cover and let rise in a warm place (80°F), free from drafts, until doubled in bulk, 45 minutes to 1 hour.

  6. Preheat oven to 375°F. Bake loaves in preheated oven until deep golden brown and sound hollow when tapped, 25 to 30 minutes. Transfer from pans to a wire rack, and brush with melted butter. Let cool completely, about 2 hours. Slice and serve.

Updated by
Alana Al-Hatlani
Alana Al-Hatlani
Alana Al-Hatlani is an Assistant Food Editor at Southern Living where she works with the Deputy Editor to plan and write monthly print food features and stories. Before joining Southern Living, she worked as a baker in restaurants and bakeries. From cakes to cookies and everything in between, she spent 4 years covered in flour dreaming up desserts. In addition to baking, Alana has written about food for various outlets like Bon Appetit, Eater Seattle, Saveur, and Fodor's Travel.Born and raised in Seattle, Washington, Alana graduated summa cum laude from New York University with a degree in journalism and a minor in food studies. She then went on to graduate from the Seattle Culinary Academy with a diploma in pastry arts. She now lives in Birmingham, Alabama, with her partner and pup. When not writing, she is probably baking and vice versa.
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