Cinnamon Snail Bread in a 6-Quart Dutch Oven

Reader Contribution by Wendy Akin
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Going steps further in my mission to create Dutch oven breads, I turn now to some fancier, filled type breads. Be sure to check back to “Whole-Grain Artisan Breads for a Dutch Oven” to see the basics, including the math to convert to a smaller Dutch oven. Read all the way through the recipe before starting to make sure you have all the ingredients and equipment on hand.

This hearty wheat loaf with its gooey cinnamon filling will be a family favorite. When cut, this loaf reminds one of the Scandinavian Potica, though it’s not quite as elaborate. To get closer to that wonderful loaf, make a filling of honey, cinnamon and ground walnuts.

Cinnamon Snail Bread Recipe


Starter #1 (a poolish type):

• 1 cup water
• 4 ½ oz (1 cup) all purpose flour
• ½ tsp in yeast

Starter #2 (a biga type):

• 17 oz (3 ¼ cups) white or traditional whole wheat flour
• Optional:  replace 1 cup of whole wheat with 1 cup of a multigrain flour
• 3 Tbsp vital wheat gluten
• 2 tsp sea salt
• 2 tsp SAF gold (preferred) or instant yeast
• ½ tsp freshly grated nutmeg
• ¼ cup best raw honey
• 16 oz water
• all of starter #1
• 2 cups raisins


• All of starter #2
• 13 oz (2 ¾ cups) bread flour
• 4 Tbsp ( ½ stick) unsalted butter, melted and cooled


• 8 Tbsp (1 stick)  unsalted butter, melted
• 1 ½ cups packed brown sugar
• 4 tsp best cinnamon
• Optional: 1 cup broken pecans or walnuts


• 4 Tbsp ( ½ stick) unsalted butter to brush the top
• ¼ cup demerara or other coarse sugar

Notes on Ingredients:

Flours. Choosing which whole-wheat flour and whether to use a multigrain as part affects the heartiness of the loaf. The darker, the heartier.

Yeast. In recipes with a substantial amount of sugar of any sort or fat, the SAF Gold yeast gives a better rise. It is available from King Arthur Flour or on Amazon with prime shipping. I keep my yeasts in quart jars in the refrigerator-freezer to keep them fresh at least a year so it’s quite economical to have more than one kind.

Cinnamon.  I recently learned from P.J. Hamel of King Arthur Flour that cinnamon in a dough recipe can retard the rise. So, I put all the cinnamon in my cinnamon-raisin recipe into the gooey filling and just a haunting touch of nutmeg into the dough. What would we bakers do without the wonderful P.J.?


1. Starter # 1 on day 1: This is easy to stir with just a spoon or whisk. In a 4 cup bowl, stir the yeast into the flour. Add the water and stir into a smooth batter. Cover the bowl and leave it on the counter overnight, at least 12 hours. It will bubble up and have a slightly tangy smell when you’re ready to proceed.

If your raisins are dry, soak them overnight in water or spirits of your choice. Drain them before adding to the dough.

2. Starter #2 on day 2: Mix all the flours and other dry ingredients and the raisins in the mixer bowl or other large bowl. Add the water, honey and starter #1. Mix well with the dough hook and continue on machine speed #4 for about 5 minutes. Cover the bowl and refrigerate over night.

3. Final dough on day 3:

4. Prepare your Dutch oven: Have your Dutch oven bottom lined with parchment and very thoroughly sprayed with non-stick spray.

5. Add in the bread flour, mix in well. Machine knead for 5 minutes, turn off the mixer and let the dough rest for 10 minutes. It won’t rise yet because it’s cold.

6. Add the ½ cup of melted butter, turn the mixer back on, and machine knead on speed #4 for another 5.5 minutes. This is a very wet dough, but if it seems just too wet, you’ll add a bit more flour, maybe a half cup gradually.

The Filling:

1. Meanwhile, in a small bowl mix together the brown sugar and the cinnamon.

2. Add the melted butter, the nuts if you prefer and stir together. It takes a bit for the sugar to take up the butter; don’t worry, it will get thicker as you stir.

Form and rise:

1. Lay out either a large — at least 16 by 20 inch —  pastry cloth* or tea towel.

2. Flour it well then turn out the dough. Sprinkle more flour on top of the dough and your hands.

3. Pat out the dough close to the size of the pastry cloth.

4. With a spoon or spatula, dollop on the filling and then carefully spread it nearly to the side and bottom edges and up to an inch from the top. Get it as even as you can.

5. Using the front edge of the pastry cloth roll up the whole sheet of dough. Careful, use your hands to guide as necessary, but don’t try to make the roll tight. Now use the back edge of the cloth to roll it toward you with the edge of the dough on top. Pinch the edge into the roll to seal it. The dough roll is quite soft. Carefully give it a twist or two. Lift the twisted roll and lay it into the Dutch oven in either a spiral or an “S” shape with the dough covering the bottom. The loaf is soft and floppy, just do your best and then you can push a little with your fingers to get it right.

6. Brush the loaf with the melted butter, pushing the brush down the sides as well. Sprinkle with the demerara sugar.

7. Put the lid on the Dutch oven and let the bread rise until nearly doubled, which will probably take at least 90 minutes.

8. Preheat your oven to 450 degrees. With a very sharp blade (I opted for scissors) snip 2 inch slashes at random on the top of the loaf exposing some filling. I made 8 cuts.

9. Put the Dutch oven in your very hot oven and set the timer for 30 minutes. I am sometimes distracted, so I put a sticky note on the timer to “turn down”. At the end of the first 30 minutes remove the lid from the Dutch oven, turn down the oven to 350 degrees and set the timer again for 40 minutes. After this time, take the Dutch oven out and check the temperature of your bread. It should be close to 200 degrees. If not, put it back for another 10 to 15 minutes, however long to reach temperature.

10 Let the bread rest in the Dutch oven for several minutes and then turn it out onto a wire rack to finish cooling. Let the bread cool completely, about an hour or more before cutting. Because this is a filled loaf, use your thermometer again to make sure the center of the loaf is room temperature. Please be patient. If you cut your beautiful loaf too soon it will be gummy inside.

Serve: Just a slice this afternoon with a nice cuppa? Morning toast. French toast. Breakfast trifle with dices of bread, organic Greek yogurt and fruit layered in glass bowl. If there’s still some left that’s a little stale after a day or two, make a fabulous bread pudding with some of last summer’s preserves layered in.

*pastry cloth. If you don’t have one, go to your favorite general fabric store and buy a half yard of white cotton duck fabric. Cut it in half to give you 2 cloths 18 by 22 inches. Stitch a narrow hem in the cut sides. You can use this for rolling/patting out dough and also as a couche for your baguettes.

Wendy Akin is happy to share her years of traditional skills knowledge. Over the years, she’s earned many state fair ribbons for pickles, relishes, preserves and special condiments, and even a few for breads. Read all of Wendy’s MOTHER EARTH NEWS posts here.

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