Cinnamon Rolls

March 25, 2011

It’s been quite a while since I’ve made cinnamon rolls, and I’ve had cravings for them the past few weeks. Cinnamon rolls are one of those foods that you can’t just make for yourself – they need to be shared! As two of my former coworkers are now working together very close to my house and one of them recently had a birthday, I promised her that for a belated present, I would bring in some baked goods for us all to share.

Although making cinnamon rolls from scratch is certainly more time-consuming than opening up a cardboard tube from the grocery store, I think the results are totally worth it. Not only do you not have to worry about high-fructose corn syrup, preservatives, and other additives, there’s something magical about eating delicious food that you made yourself from the simplest pantry ingredients. For this recipe (taken from the America’s Test Kitchen Family Baking Book), I like to make the dough and assemble the rolls the night before, then they only have to rise for an hour or so in the morning before baking (see note before recipe). Still not entirely practical for a weekday, but perfectly fine for a day off!

Cinnamon rolls

The dough and/or the assembled rolls may be made ahead. If you wish to make the dough ahead, do not let it rise but refrigerate it overnight or up to 16 hours; let sit at room temperature for 30 minutes before assembling rolls. If you wish to assemble the rolls ahead, do not let the cut rolls rise but refrigerate them in the pan overnight or up to 16 hours; let them sit at room temperature until they have nearly doubled in size, then bake as directed.

Makes 12 rolls



  • 3/4  cup buttermilk, warm (110 degrees F)
  • 6  tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled
  • 3  large eggs
  • 4 1/4  cups (21 1/4 ounces) all-purpose flour
  • 1/4  cup sugar
  • 2 1/4  teaspoons (1 envelope) instant or rapid-rise yeast
  • 1 1/4  teaspoons salt


  • 3/4  cup packed (5 1/4 ounces) light brown sugar
  • 2  teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1/4  teaspoon ground cloves
  • Pinch salt
  • 1  tablespoon unsalted butter, melted and cooled


  • 1 1/2  cups (6 ounces) confectioners’ sugar
  • 3  tablespoons cream cheese, softened
  • 3  tablespoons buttermilk or milk
  • 1/2  teaspoon vanilla extract


Make the dough:

  1. Whisk the buttermilk, melted butter, and eggs together in a large liquid measuring cup. Combine 4 cups of the flour, sugar, yeast, and salt together in a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook. With the mixer on low speed, add the buttermilk mixture and mix until the dough comes together, about 2 minutes.
  2. Increase the mixer speed to medium and knead until the dough is smooth and elastic, about 10 minutes. If after 5 minutes more flour is needed, add the remaining 1/4 cup flour, 1 tablespoon at a time, until the dough clears the sides of the bowl but sticks to the bottom.
  3. Turn the dough out onto a clean surface and knead by hand to form a smooth, round ball. Place the dough in a lightly oiled bowl and wrap tightly with plastic wrap. Let rise in a warm, draft-free place until doubled in size, 2 to 2 1/2 hours.

Assemble, bake, and glaze:

  1. Grease a 13 by 9-inch baking pan. Mix the brown sugar, cinnamon, cloves, and salt together in a small bowl. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured counter and press it into a 16 by 12-inch rectangle with the long side facing you. Brush the dough with the melted butter, the sprinkle the brown sugar mixture over it, leaving a 3/4-inch border along the top edge. Press on the filling to adhere it to the dough.
  2. Loosen the dough from the counter using a bench scraper or metal spatula, and roll the dough into a tight log. Pinch the seam closed and roll the log seam-side down. Gently stretch the long to be 18 inches in length with an even diameter, and pat the ends to even them out.
  3. Slice the cylinder into 12 evenly sized rolls (about 1 1/2 inches wide) using a sharp serrated knife. Arrange the rolls in the prepared baking pan and wrap tightly with greased plastic wrap. Let rise in a warm place until the rolls have nearly doubled in size and are pressed against one another, 1 to 1 1/2 hours.
  4. Adjust and oven rack to the middle position and heat the oven to 350 degrees F. Bake the rolls until golden and puffed, 25 to 30 minutes. Let cool for 5 minutes before glazing.
  5. To make the glaze, whisk the confectioners’ sugar, softened cream cheese, buttermilk, and vanilla together in a medium bowl until smooth. Drizzle the rolls with the glaze and serve.


  1. […] monkey bread, from the ATK Family Baking Book, uses the same dough as the the recipe I use for my cinnamon rolls, so the flavor is very […]

  2. […] dough is the same basic sweet dough recipe from the ATK Family Baking Book used in both my cinnamon rolls and monkey bread, and the assembly is almost the same as the cinnamon rolls. Rather than baking the […]

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