The secret to making our gooey, spice-drenched, perfectly chewy Cinnamon Swirl Bread? A twisting method called the “Russian braid.” The benefit of this technique—other than good looks—is that it solves the gapping that plagues swirl breads. The twisted shape tightly seals the pieces of dough together while providing plenty of escape routes for the excess air that would otherwise compress the dough and create tunnels in the loaf.
HOW TO MAKE A RUSSIAN BRAID
1. Cut It Lengthwise: Using a bench scraper or sharp chef’s knife, cut the filled dough in half lengthwise. Turn the loaves so the cut sides are facing up.
2. Stretch It: With the cut sides up, stretch each half into a 14-inch length.
3. Fold Left Over Right: Pinch 2 ends of the strips together. To braid, take the left strip of dough and lay it over the right strip of dough.
4. Repeat and Pinch: Repeat braiding, keeping the cut sides facing up, until the pieces are tightly twisted. Pinch the ends together.
MAKE IT NOW: Our recipe for Cinnamon Swirl Bread is free through September 12, 2013.