It’s beginning to taste a lot like Christmas…

Cinnamon Twist Coffee Cakes

I don’t remember a Christmas morning without one of these Cinnamon Twist Coffee Cakes baking while we opened our gifts.  With two older brothers, it was pretty much devoured within minutes of coming out of the oven.  Several years ago, I started making these for a few neighborhood friends.  Since a recipe makes 4 cakes, I’d double it to ensure that Husband and I had 2 left for ourselves — one for Christmas morning, and one for New Year’s morning.

Every year, Husband makes the coffee cake deliveries on Christmas Eve.  He’s VERY popular…  So are these twisted packages of naughtiness.  So much so, that now I quadruple the recipe, netting 16.

The good news is, they freeze beautifully, so I can make them a few weeks ahead of time.  All that’s left to do on delivery day is tie a pretty ribbon and a tag to the foil package and send Husband on his rounds.

NOTES: These really are easy to make, but a tutorial for how to roll up and braid is helpful. I’m no artist, but I did my best to sketch out how to do it! Scroll below recipe for my handy drawing!

4.8 from 5 reviews
Cinnamon Twist Coffee Cakes
Cuisine: Brunch
Our traditional Christmas (and New Year) morning breakfast!
  • 1 cup butter
  • 5 cups flour
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 pkg yeast
  • ¼ cup water, warmed
  • ⅓ cup sugar
  • 3 eggs, beaten
  • ¾ cup milk, warmed
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 cup butter
  • 1 Tbs cinnamon
  • 1 cup chopped pecans
  • ½ lb powdered sugar
  • 1 tsp butter, softened
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 2 Tbs milk, plus more to reach desired consistency
  1. Cut together butter, flour and salt with a pastry blender.
  2. Dissolve yeast in the warm water.
  3. Mix the sugar, eggs and warm milk with the yeast, then mix together with the flour. Grease the top of the dough, cover and refrigerate overnight (at least 6 hours).
  4. Divide dough into 4 sections. Roll each section into a rectangle. Mix the brown sugar and the butter together and spread on the rectangle, then sprinkle with the cinnamon and nuts. Roll jelly-roll fashion (starting with a long side), and seal edges and ends. Beginning 1" from the top of the roll, cut down the center, creating two halves, still connected at the top. Braid, and then flatten slightly. Place 2 on a cookie sheet. Let rise for 3 hours.
  5. Bake at 350 for 20-25 minutes. Mix the glaze ingredients together, adding enough milk, 1 tablespoon at a time to make frosting thin enough to drizzle. Spread on warm coffee cakes.
  6. These freeze really well! To reheat, thaw slightly. Open foil a bit and place on cookie sheet in preheated 350 oven for 15-20 minutes.

coffee cake recipe - dough rising

Important: Use baking sheets with rims/sides. All that butter and sugar melts in the oven and can make a mess if you use flat sheets. 

coffee cake recipe - frosted


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46 Responses to It’s beginning to taste a lot like Christmas…

  1. mary f.h. December 13, 2013 at 10:27 am #

    Well this looks yummy. I may try

  2. Sue Kephart December 13, 2013 at 10:52 am #

    Love the pictures gives me confidence to try this recipe. Thanks

  3. Braden December 13, 2018 at 4:00 pm #

    Hi, my name is Braden and I am 12. I love to bake and would appreciate a tutorial. Thank you and Merry Christmas. #jayarshow

    • Morgan Wood December 13, 2018 at 4:14 pm #

      Braden! I love that you are twelve and love to bake! Read the recipe and hit me with questions… :)

  4. Deb Edwards December 13, 2018 at 4:46 pm #

    Hey Morgan,

    Thanks so much for sharing your wonderful recipe. I’m anxious to try it. But I do have a question. Do you heat up the coffee cake before eating or do you eat them at room temperature?

    Thanks so much!!!

    • Morgan Wood December 14, 2018 at 8:36 am #

      Yes. I usually make these in advance and feeeze them – I put a tag on them that suggests warming up in the oven for about 25 minutes or u til heated through! Some have been known not to wait!

  5. April Hale December 13, 2018 at 6:51 pm #

    Would love to see a video. I just can’t quite picture the steps for rolling, cutting, and twisting. Or maybe pictures of those steps. Looks great!😍

    • Morgan Wood December 14, 2018 at 8:38 am #

      Hi April! I made 4 recipes of this yesterday – so 16 coffee cakes! Will be awhile until I do another batch. I will try and sketch it out and email you!

  6. Lynne Adams December 13, 2018 at 9:23 pm #

    Roll jelly-roll fashion … are you just rolling over the sides a bit to seal?

    • Morgan Wood December 14, 2018 at 8:40 am #

      Hi Lynn! I roll them up (starting on a long side) into a jelly roll. Then, starting from about an inch rom the top, I slice the roll in half, lengthwise. That creates two pieces – still joined at the top – that I braid together. Going to try and sketch it out for you!

      • Lynne adams December 15, 2018 at 3:16 pm #

        That makes sense. Thanks. I’m going to make these.

  7. Carol Jean Banach December 14, 2018 at 6:48 am #

    I can’t wait to try your recipe… like you I have for years made plates of Christmas cookies and cakes and deliver to my neighbors and friends.
    Thank you for sharing with all of us.

    • Morgan Wood December 14, 2018 at 8:41 am #

      Carol – thanks for visiting my little site! I hope you get to make them!

  8. Menzie December 14, 2018 at 2:49 pm #

    Thanks for sharing! I WANT your kitchen. Nice Wolf stove too.

    • Morgan Wood December 14, 2018 at 6:17 pm #

      Hey Menzie :) I LOVE my kitchen … it’s my happy place!

  9. Nicole December 14, 2018 at 5:00 pm #

    Thanks for this recipe, Morgan. I’m excited (&anxious) to try!

    Nicole from HR ;)

    • Morgan Wood December 14, 2018 at 6:16 pm #

      Pics please, Nicole from HR!

  10. Karen December 14, 2018 at 5:49 pm #

    Hey Morgan,

    I am trying this! What kind of flour do you use? Self rising or plane?

    • Morgan Wood December 14, 2018 at 6:16 pm #

      Hi Karen! Just all-purpose flour. And if you can get the Platinum yeast, great. I like pecans for the nuts… or you can leave them out. Also for the icing, I like a simple glaze but some people love more… so if you’re a frosting gal, maybe make 1 1/2x the ingredients for that!

  11. Marjorie Bozer December 14, 2018 at 10:08 pm #

    It sounds like you complete the whole recipe and freeze them already frosted. Doesn’t the frosting melt and disappear during the reheat? Or do you only frost after reheating?

    • Morgan Wood December 14, 2018 at 10:41 pm #

      Hi Marjorie! We freeze them frosted and ready to go! Nope, the frosting doesn’t melt and disappear at all. :)

  12. Dana December 15, 2018 at 9:57 am #

    Cutting them and braiding them exposedthe inside filling which all ran out when baking…is this normal? I used baking sheets with no sides and the melted butter and cinnamon ran all over my oven :(. Did I do something wrong in the braiding?

    • Morgan Wood December 15, 2018 at 10:13 am #

      Hi Dana! You made them! Oh goodness, so sorry about your oven. Yes that is normal – so much butter and sugar. 😀 You did everything right. I am going to edit the post to suggest using coop baking sheets with sides/rims. I’d come help clean your oven if I lived nearby. Post pics of the finished product!

      • Dana December 18, 2018 at 7:43 am #

        Thank you, Morgan! Very sweet of you…yeah, we had a little fire but so far very good reviews from those who have eaten the finished product…your sketch was excellent! I am trying to post pics…

  13. Debbie December 15, 2018 at 2:53 pm #

    Iam so anxious to make these but it is little sketchy to me also as to the braiding after cutting
    So i think you are saying to roll long-ways, right?
    Sounds delicious – thanks for recipe and help along the way
    God bless you and Merry Christmas

    • Morgan Wood December 17, 2018 at 2:38 pm #

      Yep, long ways…. let me see if I can sketch out how to braid!

  14. Kim Lamb December 16, 2018 at 8:19 pm #

    These look incredible! I was listening to you talk about these on Friday and want to make a batch this week. What do you use to freeze these? Any particular container or freezer bag? Also, what type of foil container do you transfer them to for delivery? I am NOT very advanced in the kitchen and appreciate these specifics. Merry Christmas!

    • Morgan Wood December 17, 2018 at 2:37 pm #

      Hi Kim!

      They are naughty! And soooo good! I just wrap in Heavy Duty foil. Then I tie with a ribbon and a tag with instructions. I am trying to sketch out how to roll them and braid them (I am NOT artistic!) and will also find an example of the tags too :)

  15. Rina December 17, 2018 at 5:06 pm #

    How long can I leave the dough in the fridge? I made it yesterday and I was planning on doing it tonight but just don’t have the time! I’m so excited for these!!

    • Morgan Wood December 17, 2018 at 5:17 pm #

      You’re fine doing them tomorrow!

  16. Debbie Boyll December 17, 2018 at 6:33 pm #

    Hi Morgan:
    Well, I don’t know where I got it in my mind that you kept dough attached at top AND bottom when you cut it — so that’s my first mistake (lol) – not reading the recipe thoroughly – duh! It makes perfect sense to be how to braid now that I see that you cut the dough all the way through the bottom – easy-peasy (ha, ha)
    Thanks for the quick response about the yeast!
    You are so kind to be so patient with us novices!
    Be blessed as you are blessing us!! and thank you so much, again.
    Debbie Boyll

  17. Amanda December 17, 2018 at 7:18 pm #

    Hi Morgan,

    Thank you so much for sharing your recipe. I was listening to the show when you shared it and I couldn’t wait to tell my mom so we could try it for Christmas morning. That being said she was unexpectedly admitted to the hospital for some stomach issues but praise God she’s back home with us and that is all I wanted. We have a lot to do before Christmas so my question is … (I’m embarrassed to ask) would this work with pre-made dough? I know this is but I really want to try it. Thanks in advance and sorry for the rambling!! Merry Christmas!! :)

    • Morgan Wood December 21, 2018 at 2:59 pm #

      Hi Amanda!

      I’m so sorry about your mom – I hope she’s doing much better. You know…. I have no idea how premade dough would work… I’m all for cheating when necessity calls for it. Did you try it?! Let me know… (And truly, it’s not a hard recipe, just a smidge time consuming!)

  18. Andy December 18, 2018 at 6:06 pm #

    My daughter & I completed this tonight… Don’t know if it matters that we had the dough in the fridge for 24 hours but the dough was a little stiff and not as fluffy as I had imagined it would be… We did cover it with a wet towel in the fridge too (per a tip from another similar recipe video)…

    Still was very good!

    Were we supposed to “butter wash” it prior to going into oven? It came out very white looking…

    • Morgan Wood December 21, 2018 at 2:51 pm #

      Sorry for the delay in responding. I’ve left my dough in the fridge for a long time too. It softens once you start working with it. No need to butter wash, since you’ll be glazing. White looking? Hmmmm. You’ll see what mine look like in the pic… Glad you liked them!

  19. Jenny December 19, 2018 at 5:39 pm #

    How long do you have to blend the flour, salt, and butter mixture? Or to what consistency?

    • Morgan Wood December 21, 2018 at 2:50 pm #

      If your butter is cold, it will look like little pebbles when you cut it together. If softened, it’ll be smoother. Since you’ll be kneading it for awhile (hopefully with a stand mixer!), either way is fine. Post pics on our Facebook page!

  20. Canadian cooker December 20, 2018 at 3:04 pm #

    We were in Tampa last week and heard you on Joy, I’m going to give this recipe a try, my dad loved baking bread but at 52 I have never done it, this sounds like a great Xmas treat, I will definitely send pics.
    Rob from Toronto Canada

  21. Stephen December 22, 2018 at 6:14 pm #

    Just a silly question. Is the 3/4 milk in the ingredients 3/4 cup or something else? My dough seems to be overly firm after taking it out of the fridge from 8 hours. Not sure if it just needs to come to room temperature or if I have already messed it up some how.

    • Morgan Wood December 22, 2018 at 7:59 pm #

      Not a silly question! You’re good!

    • Morgan Wood December 23, 2018 at 8:25 am #

      Oh and YES ¾ CUP! Thanks for catching that – going to correct it now.

  22. April 21, 2020 at 9:11 am #

    This recipe is so delicious! Never worked with yeast before, but in the midst of this pandemic i decided I have time…why not! Nothing but rave reviews for these coffee cakes! The dough was so easy to work with! Thank you so much for sharing this family recipe!

    • Morgan Wood April 21, 2020 at 10:18 am #

      So glad you liked it! It isn’t really difficult – just takes some time. But I love that it makes FOUR!!! You’ll be very popular sharing these :)

  23. David Peck May 21, 2020 at 7:51 am #

    Hi! Do you put dough into fridge immediately after mixing or let it rise first?
    Thanks so much!

    • Morgan Wood May 21, 2020 at 8:23 am #

      I put it in the fridge right away! It won’t rise much until you shape it!

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