Cinnamon Rolls

Soft and fluffy Cinnamon Rolls made from a brioche-like dough, and drizzled with a simple icing for a touch of indulgence. Easy recipe for Cinnamon Rolls with step-by-step photos.

cinnamon rolls on marble board

Cinnamon Rolls

As a child, I loved anything which was slathered in icing. And it was a good thing that my parents ran a bakery because there was no shortage of cakes and buns generously decorated with a frosting of some sort. Iced Finger Buns remain a firm favourite from my childhood, but something I was only introduced to as an adult are Cinnamon Rolls.

Living and working in the US was one of the most enjoyable periods in my former life as a lawyer. And I’m still so thankful to my American colleagues who were always eager to introduce me to their favourite local cafés, restaurants and drive-thru.

I fondly recall a breakfast meeting at a nearby food court over a plate of Cinnamon Rolls at Cinnabon. They were sticky and messy, probably a bit too sweet to classify as breakfast, but they were a great distraction from the actual work we had to discuss!

iced cinnamon rolls on marble board

Homemade Cinnamon Rolls

If you are a seasoned bread baker, Cinnamon Rolls are very easy to make; it’s a bit like making a brioche with a few extra (but easy) steps added to make the scrolls. But even if you are new to bread baking, my Cinnamon Rolls recipe with step-by-step photos will help you to make these delicious treats with easy-to-follow instructions.

What are Cinnamon Rolls?

Cinnamon Rolls are very much an American treat, albeit with a slight nod to Scandinavia.

Sweden is famous (culinarily speaking) for its Cinnamon Buns (or Kanelbullar), which are yeasted buns, heavily spiced with cinnamon.

The American-style Cinnamon Rolls are quite similar, but I find them to be much more lightly spiced, much softer in texture, and much sweeter thanks to the addition of a generous glaze or even a cream cheese frosting.

Having travelled many times to both Sweden and the US, and having sampled many cinnamon rolls in both countries, I find it a tough call to decide which I like more … There is a time and place for both 😉

homemade cinnamon rolls on marble board

Why This Recipe Works

  • These Cinnamon Rolls are soft and fluffy with the right amount of sweetness from the icing.
  • This recipe makes a fairly small batch of Cinnamon Rolls, which is perfect as they are best eaten on the same day they are made.
  • You can prepare most of this recipe the night before, if you wish, so you can serve them still warm at brunch or breakfast the next day.

Cinnamon Rolls Recipe

My recipe for Cinnamon Rolls uses my favourite and trusty recipe for enriched dough, i.e. a yeasted dough which has been enriched with eggs, milk and butter. It is almost the same dough which I use for Finger Buns and Cream Buns, but with the addition of an egg for extra richness and colour.

The resulting dough has a very similar taste and texture to a brioche.

Here, the brioche-like dough is rolled out thinly, spread with a mixture of butter, cinnamon and sugar, and then rolled up to form coils (or snails).

You could stop there if you prefer to keep things minimalist and Swedish. Or you add a simple glaze to turn these Cinnamon Rolls into a scrumptious tea-time treat.

How to Make Cinnamon Rolls

Step 1

Measure the flour, sugar, yeast and salt into the bowl of an electric stand mixer. Lightly mix the ingredients together.

dry ingredients for finger buns in white mixing bowl

Step 2

Add the egg to the bowl. Slowly add the warm milk (you may not need all of it), and lightly beat everything with the dough hook until it comes together into a large ball of dough. Only add as much milk as you need to bring the ingredients together into a dough.

dough for finger buns in white mixing bowl

Step 3

Slowly incorporate the butter, one tablespoon at a time, until all of the butter has been used.

Then increase the speed to medium and continue kneading with the dough hook for 15 to 20 minutes, or until the dough is smooth and elastic.

raw dough for finger buns in white mixing bowl

Step 4

Lightly oil a large mixing bowl, and place the dough into the bowl. Cover the bowl with a clean tea towel and leave it somewhere warm for 1 to 1.5 hours, or until the dough has doubled in size.

risen dough for cinnamon rolls in white bowl

Step 5

Once the dough has doubled in size, punch it back and knead it gently into a smooth ball.

Roll out the dough into a rectangle shape measuring approximately 40 x 30 cm/16 x 12 inches.

rolled out dough for cinnamon rolls

Step 6

Make the filling by beating together the ingredients. Use a small palette knife to evenly spread the filling all over the dough. Be sure to spread the filling right to the edges of the dough so that you have maximum cinnamon-sugar in each bun.

rolled out dough for cinnamon rolls

Step 7

Roll up the dough tightly from the short end.

Cut the dough into 9 even pieces using a very sharp knife and by using a sawing motion to keep the layers nicely separated. Clean the knife between each slice.

Line a 20 cm/8 inch square baking pan with baking paper.

dough spread with cinnamon sugar filling

Step 8

Arrange the slices of dough in the baking pan. I sometimes find it easier to arrange the slices of dough directly on the baking paper on the kitchen bench, and then transferring the baking paper with the buns into the baking pan. This is especially if the dough has already started to puff and rise.

If you plan to make these Cinnamon Rolls the night before, stop here, cover the pan with some plastic wrap, and leave the pan overnight in the fridge.

Otherwise, place the pan somewhere warm for about 30 minutes, or until the buns have risen and puffed up slightly.

cinnamon rolls in baking pan before going into the oven

Step 9

Preheat the oven to 200°C/390°F with a metal baking tray on the middle shelf. Bake the buns for 10 minutes

Reduce the heat to 180°C/356°F and bake for another 20 minutes, or until the buns are lightly golden. Check the buns at about 10 minutes, and if they are browning too quickly, cover them with a loose sheet of foil for the rest of the baking time. The buns are cooked if an internal thermometer reads 85°C (185°F).

Gently remove the buns (intact) to a wire rack, and leave them to cool completely.

Step 10

Make the icing by whisking together the ingredients until you have a thick, but runny, consistency.

Generously drizzle the icing over the buns, as much or as little as you like.

iced cinnamon rolls with white plates

More Bread Recipes

If you are looking for more bread recipes, you might also like:

Cream Buns

French Brioche Loaf

Iced Finger Buns

Print

Cinnamon Rolls

  • Resting Time: 2 hours
  • Author: Thanh | Eat, Little Bird
  • Prep Time: 60 mins
  • Cook Time: 30 mins
  • Total Time: 1 hour 30 minutes
  • Yield: Makes 9 buns
  • Category: Bread
  • Method: Oven
  • Cuisine: American

Soft and fluffy Cinnamon Rolls made from a brioche-like dough, and drizzled with a simple icing for a touch of indulgence. Easy recipe for Cinnamon Rolls with step-by-step photos.

Ingredients

For the Dough

  • 400 g (2 2/3 cup) strong white bread flour
  • 75 g (1/3 cupcaster sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine salt
  • 9 g instant dried yeast (see Kitchen Notes below)
  • 1 egg, at room temperature
  • 250 ml (1 cup) milk, warmed to 37°C/98°F
  • 40 g (2 tablespoons) unsalted butter, softened

For the Cinnamon-Sugar Filling

For the Icing

Instructions

For the Dough

(You will need approx. 3 hours to make the Cinnamon Rolls)

  1. Measure the flour, sugar, salt and yeast into the bowl of an electric stand mixer.
  2. Lightly mix the ingredients together using the dough hook.
  3. Add the egg to the bowl.
  4. Slowly pour in the warm milk, and continue mixing until everything comes together into a rough dough.
  5. Add the butter, one tablespoon at a time. Once the butter has been fully incorporated into the dough, add the next tablespoon of butter.
  6. Once all of the butter has been added, continue kneading the dough on medium speed for about 15 to 20 minutes.
  7. The dough is ready when it is soft and smooth, and no longer sticks to the side of the bowl. The dough will be somewhat sticky from the butter and egg.
  8. Lightly oil a large mixing bowl.
  9. Place the dough inside the bowl.
  10. Cover the dough with a clean tea towel, plastic wrap, or a reusable bowl cover.
  11. Leave the dough somewhere warm for 1 to 1.5 hours, or until the dough has doubled in size (see Kitchen Notes below).

For the Cinnamon-Sugar Filling

  1. Just before the dough is ready, make the filling by beating together the ingredients.

To Assemble the Cinnamon Rolls

  1. Line a 20 cm/8 inch square baking pan with baking paper.
  2. Once the dough has doubled in size, punch back the dough to release all of the air.
  3. Gently knead the dough a few times.
  4. Roll out the dough into a rectangle shape measuring approximately 40 x 30 cm/16 x 12 inches.
  5. Use a small palette knife to evenly spread the filling all over the dough.
  6. Roll up the dough tightly from the short end.
  7. Cut the dough into 9 even pieces using a very sharp knife.
  8. Arrange the slices of dough in the baking pan.
  9. Place the pan somewhere warm for about 30 minutes, or until the buns have risen and puffed up slightly.
  10. Preheat the oven to 200°C/390°F with a metal baking tray on the middle shelf.
  11. Place the pan of buns on the preheated baking tray.
  12. Bake the buns for 10 minutes
  13. Reduce the heat to 180°C/356°F and bake for another 20 minutes, or until the buns are lightly golden. Check the buns at about 10 minutes, and if they are browning too quickly, cover them with a loose sheet of foil for the rest of the baking time.
  14. The buns are cooked if an internal thermometer reads 85°C/185°F.
  15. Gently remove the buns (intact) to a wire rack, and leave them to cool completely.

To Ice the Cinnamon Rolls

  1. Make the icing by whisking together the ingredients. Add the milk gradually until the icing is a thick, but runny, consistency.
  2. Drizzle the icing all over the cooled Cinnamon Rolls.
  3. The Cinnamon Rolls can be served immediately or once the icing has set. They are best eaten the same day they are baked.

Kitchen Notes

MAKE AHEAD TIPS
To make the Cinnamon Rolls the night before, complete all of the steps until you have assembled the 9 pieces of cinnamon roll dough in the baking pan. Cover the pan with some plastic wrap, and leave in the fridge to prove overnight. The buns will rise and puff up overnight in the fridge. Before you are ready to bake, take the pan out of the fridge and let the dough come back to room temperature (this should take about 30 minutes). Proceed with the rest of the recipe.

MAKE A LARGER BATCH
To adjust the recipe to make 12 buns, use the following quantities:
For the Dough:
600 g (4 cups) strong white bread flour

110 g (1/2 cup) caster sugar
1 teaspoon fine salt
14 g (4 teaspoons) instant dried yeast
1 egg
375 ml (1 1/2 cup) milk
60 g (4 tablespoons) unsalted butter
For the Cinnamon-Sugar Filling:

125 g (1 1/4 sick) unsalted butter
125 g (3/4 cup) light brown sugar
2 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon fine salt

DIFFERENT TYPES OF FLOUR
* This recipe works well with plain flour (all-purpose flour) or strong white bread flour.
* For Swiss readers: I use Zopfmehl (or farine pour tresse) when making bread and enriched dough.

DIFFERENT TYPES OF YEAST
* Please note that there is a difference between instant yeast (also called instant dried yeast or fast-action dried yeast) and dried yeast (also called active dry yeast). If you are not sure what type of yeast you have, please check the packaging for instructions on how to use the yeast.
* With instant yeast, you can add it directly to the flour mixture without having to activate it first.
* With dried yeast, you will need to activate it first (usually in some warm liquid).
* If you are using fresh yeast, you will need about half a block (40 g fresh yeast = 14 g instant dried yeast). Crumble the fresh yeast into the warm milk, and stir to dissolve the yeast.

PROOFING THE DOUGH
Dough needs a warm environment for the yeast to activate and cause the dough to rise. If you don’t have a warm place in your home, try one of the following ideas:
* In the oven with the oven light switched on (works only for some ovens).
* In the oven with a tray of boiling water on the bottom shelf.
* In the oven or a steamer oven at a low temperature of about 25-40°C (77-104°F).

OVEN TEMPERATURES
All recipes on this website state temperatures for a regular oven (i.e. a conventional oven without fan). If you have a convection oven with a fan, please consult the manufacturer’s handbook on how to adjust the temperature and baking time accordingly.

CONVERSIONS
To convert from cups to grams, and vice-versa, please see this handy Conversion Chart for Basic Ingredients.

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