This post has been updated for recipe, photos and content since its original publication in 2015.
If you’re looking for a moist, hearty cinnamon loaf cake, you’ll love this cinnamon walnut bread recipe. It’s an easy quick bread with a tender crumb and sturdy texture. Not overly sweet, this walnut bread has just the right balance of cinnamon and ground walnuts for a delicious coffeecake for breakfast or brunch, a welcome afternoon snack or simple dessert. The Cinnamon Walnut Loaf is a treat anytime.
This cinnamon walnut loaf is one of my favorites. Not because it’s over-the-top with luxe ingredients or embellishments, but rather because it’s so simple and homey. The secret to this walnut bread recipe is the toasted ground California walnuts. They give the quick bread a sturdy structure and warm, toasty flavor.
How to make toasted ground walnuts
- Spread the walnuts onto a sheet pan and toast in a hot oven until fragrant and golden.
- Transfer the nuts to a food processor with half of the sugar.
- Pulse until the walnuts are ground and resemble wet sand.
Ingredients For Cinnamon Walnut Loaf
- All Purpose Flour
- Baking Powder
- Baking Soda
- Kosher Salt
- Sour Cream
Assembling the cinnamon walnut bread recipe
- Preheat the oven and spray a large loaf pan liberally with vegetable spray. Cut a piece of parchment paper the size of the pan’s bottom and press it into the bottom of the loaf pan.
- In a medium bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon and whisk together to combine. Set aside.
- Cream the butter and remaining sugar with a mixer and add the eggs one at a time, beating well before adding the next.
- Whisk together the milk and sour cream together. Pro-Tip: To avoid the mess of measuring out sour cream separately, add half a cup of milk to a glass measuring cup, then spoon in the sour cream until the milk level reaches the one cup mark on the measurement
- In two additions, alternate adding the flour mixture and the sour cream mixture to the creamed butter mixing just until blended (don’t over mix).
- Stir in the toasted ground walnuts to evenly distribute throughout the batter.
Baking the walnut bread recipe
The size of your loaf pan matters. If you have a 9″ x 5″ x 3″ loaf pan, you can simply transfer the batter to the prepared pan. However, if you have the 8 1/2″ x 4 1/2″ x 2 1/2″ (like I do), you’ll need to reserve about a cup of the batter from the pan.
The reason for the warning
If the pan is filled too high, it can overflow the side and (you guessed it…) land on the bottom of the oven and make a big mess or even burn (ask me how I know). To avoid this, don’t fill the loaf pan higher than 2/3 full with the walnut cinnamon loaf cake batter. Use the remaining batter to make a few muffins or a mini cinnamon walnut loaf.
Check the walnut cinnamon loaf cake with a cake tester to verify it’s done and let it cool completely before decorating the sweet spiced walnut bread.
For the sugar glaze
- Mix together the powdered sugar and milk in a small bowl and whisk until it’s smooth and creamy. The consistency should be thick but pourable.
- Pour the glaze over the cooled cake and use an offset spatula to spread the glaze evenly over the top so that it runs over the sides.
- While the glaze is still wet, sprinkle the chopped toasted walnuts over the loaf cake.
- Let the glaze set before slicing.
Perfect for brunching and tea
This simple walnut quick bread recipe is a perfect brunch dessert or tasty nosh with a cup of afternoon or evening tea. Our tasters liked the warm, nutty aroma and the sweet glaze, which adds that little extra flair. The crunchy crown of walnut bits showcase what this easy nut and cinnamon loaf cake is all about.
Mini cinnamon walnut muffins
Between you and me, I could eat all of these little muffin bites myself and not share a one. Since my husband was home at the time I made them, I was good and let him have a few. Of course, if you’d prefer muffins over a loaf, that’s an option too. Just adjust your cooking time for the muffins.
Approximate cooking times for muffins
- Mini muffins will take about 12 minutes.
- Medium-size take about 15 minutes.
- Standard-size muffins will take anywhere from 18-20.
How long will the loaf last?
It’s best the first day, but will last for 2-3 days, though it can get firm on the 2nd and 3rd days. To remedy that, you can cut a slice of the loaf cake and warm it slightly in the microwave to soften it just a smidge.
Can I freeze the walnut loaf?
Yes. Freeze the cake BEFORE glazing it. On the day you’re serving, defrost the cake to room temperature and then glaze the loaf cake.
More Easy Loaf Cakes & Muffins:
- Meyer Lemon Blackberry Swirl Loaf
- Ultra Moist Zucchini Bread
- Hatch Green Chile Bread
- Cranberry Nut Pumpkin Loaves
- Maple Walnut Breakfast Muffins
- Light and Fluffy Gluten Free Strawberry Muffins
- Jiffy Lemon Blueberry Corn Muffins
Lop off a slice and enjoy the soft, warm cinnamon spice, toasty ground walnuts and sweet sugar glaze in every delicious bite of this simple walnut cinnamon loaf cake. It’s so good!
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Cinnamon Walnut Loaf
- 3/4 cup walnuts divided
- 1 cup sugar divided
- 1 2/3 cup flour
- 2 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 2 teaspoons cinnamon
- 1/2 cup milk
- 1/2 cup sour cream
- 3/4 teaspoon vanilla
- 1 stick unsalted butter at room temperature
- 2 large eggs at room temperature
- 1 cup powdered sugar
- 4-5 teaspoons milk
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- Cut a piece of parchment paper to fit the bottom of the pan. Spray a loaf pan (9" x 5" x 3") liberally with non-stick vegetable spray. Lay the parchment paper in the bottom of the pan and spray again. Set aside.
- Place the walnuts on a baking pan and toast for 10-15 minutes or until fragrant and lightly browned.
- In a food processor add 1/2 cup + 1 tablespoon toasted walnuts and 1/2 cup sugar. Pulse until the walnuts are finely ground and set aside.
- In a medium bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, kosher salt and cinnamon. Whisk to combine and set aside.
- Combine the milk, sour cream and vanilla in a small bowl and whisk to combine.
- In a large bowl add the butter and remaining half cup of sugar. Beat the butter and sugar together with a hand mixer on high speed until light and fluffy, about 4-6 minutes, scraping the sides of a bowl with a rubber spatula occasionally.
- Add the eggs one at a time and beat into the butter mixture until fully incorporated before adding the second egg. Beat until blended and the mixture is light and fluffy.
- Alternating adding half the flour mixture with half the sour cream mixture, beating into the butter mixture until just combined. After the dry and wet ingredients have been blended, stir in the ground walnuts to combine evenly. Transfer the batter to the prepared pan --
- Bake for 45 minutes or until a cake tester comes out clean.
- Let the loaf rest in the pan for about 20-30 minutes before transferring to a cooling rack.
FOR THE GLAZE AND DECORATION:
- In a small bowl, whisk together the powdered sugar and 1 teaspoon of milk at a time until a thick, pourable glaze forms. Typically it's 4 teaspoons for me, but it could be more or less for you, depending on where you live and the climate.
- Finely chop the remaining walnuts.
- Pour the glaze over the cooled loaf cake and sprinkle on the chopped walnuts. Let the glaze set before cutting into slices.
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