A cinnamon roll recipe that’s easy to follow and produces a pastry with a complex flavor profile.
I have always been intimidated by cinnamon rolls. They seemed too complicated to make and anything that involved yeast, proofing dough, wet towels, and all that bakery stuff took me out. I have avoided perfecting an old cinnamon roll recipe from my handwritten cookbook for a decade, but this past holiday I dug it up, poured years of experience and passion into it, and came out with something I really liked. This large tray did not survive more than an hour and a half with my family.
This recipe takes a bit of time but it is easy to follow and will produce an impressive result with a complex flavor profile.
I’ve separated the ingredients by elements (rolls, filling, icing). I strongly recommend starting the rolls first because the dough needs to rise for 1.5 hours.
Most of these ingredients you will already have in your kitchen. I’ll note where you can replace or substitute items in the footnote.
DO NOT BE INTIMIDATED BY THE NUMBER OF INGREDIENTS. THIS IS AN EASY RECIPE WITH A BIG PAY-OFF.
Dry Ingredients (rolls)
3 cups AP flour (+more for rolling)
1 tsp salt
1/4 oz packet of active dry yeast (2 1/4 tsp)
Wet Ingredients (rolls)
1/4 cup white sugar
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) melted butter
1 egg yolk
3/4 cup heavy cream
2/3 cup dark brown sugar
2 tbsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp allspice
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) melted butter
3/4 cup blueberries
3/4 cup water (+1/4 cup)
1/2 tbsp cornstarch
2 tbsp white sugar
6 whole cloves
2 cups powdered sugar
2 tbsp melted butter
1 tsp vanilla
1/4 cup heavy cream
If you adhere to the following instructions then you will have success!
1: Begin with the rolls. Warm up 3/4 cup heavy cream in the microwave for 45 seconds. Put this into a large mixing bowl. Add the yeast, sugar, egg, egg yolk, and 1/4 cup melted butter and mix well. (if using a stand mixer, use the whisk attachment on low speed)
2: Stir in the 3 cups AP flour and 1 tsp salt. Once combined, knead until a smooth, greasy dough is formed. (if using a stand mixer, combine the flour and salt and then switch to the dough hook attachment on medium-low speed until the dough comes together into a smooth mass)
3: Place the dough aside in a large, well-oiled bowl (I used sunflower oil for this but vegetable, peanut, or canola would be fine). Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and set aside to rise.
4: Kick back and enjoy the latest and final season of HBO’s Insecure for 1 and a 1/2 hours.
5: Begin the filling. Combine 2/3 cup dark brown sugar, 1/4 cup melted butter, 2 tbsp cinnamon, 1/4 tsp nutmeg, and 1/4 tsp allspice until a spreadable paste is formed.
6: After 1 and a 1/2 hours (or when the dough doubles in size), turn it out onto a clean and well-floured surface. Roll the dough out into a rectangular shape (it’s okay if it isn’t perfect! rectangular-ish is fine) no more than 14" x 9" or 1/8" thick. Spread the mixture over the surface of the dough as evenly as you can, leaving a 1/4" clear margin on each side.
7: Tightly roll up the dough starting from the shortest side. Once rolled, using a sharp, serrated knife, cut the dough into 9 even pieces.
8: Place the rolls into a 9"x9" baking pan. Cover the pan with plastic wrap and set aside to proof.
9: Kick back and enjoy more of your new favorite show for 1 hour.
10: Preheat the oven to 350°. Uncover and bake the cinnamon rolls for 25 minutes or until very slightly browned. Remove from the oven and set aside to cool for 20–40 minutes.
11: Begin the icing. You will need to make a blueberry simple syrup first. Place the 3/4 cup blueberries, 3/4 cup water, 6 whole cloves, and 2 tbsps white sugar into a small saucepan and bring to a boil on medium heat, stirring often. Once the mixture darkens and becomes fragrant, separately combine 1/2 tbsp cornstarch with 1/4 cup water. Add the slurry mixture to the simple syrup and combine thoroughly. Remove from the heat and let cool.
12: In a bowl, combine 2 cups powdered sugar, 2 tbsp melted butter, 1/4 cup heavy cream, and 1 tsp vanilla and mix well until a smooth glaze is formed.
13: Combine 2/3rds of the simple syrup with the glaze until well mixed. Drizzle over the cooled cinnamon rolls, smoothing over with a rubber spatula to ensure even coating. Eat the rest of the simple syrup, use it all if you want a more powerful icing, or put it on your pancakes tomorrow morning.
14: Serve warm or refrigerator-cold. It’s good either way!
Congratulations! You’ve made some cinnamon rolls that are surely fluffy, soft, and decadent! Impress your friends and relatives!
Enjoy them while you can because they won’t survive in a household with more than one person for very long.
- I doubled this recipe for my family.