I always love exchanging recipes with friends. My college roommate Grace is one of the best bakers I know, and was amazing enough to share one of her favorite recipes with us all. Enjoy!
First of all, I would like to say that I am honored to be featured on Megan’s blog. What a treat! But before I share my “super secret” cinnamon roll recipe, I figured I would give you all a little background on how it came to be so that you can know a bit of my story… and a key part in my inspiration to become the baker that I am today.
This recipe came about as a means to an end many years ago. When I was younger I was a competitive gymnast. One year, probably when I was 7 or 8 years old, I wanted to go to a gymnastics camp in Western TN, but the camp was rather expensive… I believe to the tune of $1,000 for the week. My parents made a deal with me that if I could earn half of the cost, they would match that amount so that I could go to the camp. And thus began my cinnamon roll baking career.
I opened up a small home business called “The Bailey Bakery” and sold 3 main products – butter rolls, wheat rolls, and cinnamon rolls. With some instruction from my mom on proper technique, I got baking away in a flash. I started turning out dozens of each type of roll every week and selling them to my teammates, coaches, friends, and just about anyone that I could lure into buying something. I found that a great sales trick was to bring in the cinnamon rolls HOT and allow the delicious cinnamon aroma to waft throughout the buildings I went into. You never saw people come running so fast! I raised more than double the amount that I needed for the summer camp in just a few short months.
Anyways, all that to say, this event is really what I credit with kicking off my love of baking. (Well, that and the fact that my mother is an incredibly creative baker and she inspires me every time I get to visit her in TN.) The happiness that I got from satisfied customers placing orders every single week is just an indescribably good feeling. And so now I’m sharing my recipe with you so that you too can bring some joy to someone’s tummy. Enjoy!
Grace’s Cinnamon Rolls
1 c. Warm Water
1 tsp. Salt
1 T. Butter, melted
2 ¼ c. Bread Flour
3 T. Sugar
1 T. Powdered Dry Milk
1 ½ tsp. Active Dry Yeast
2-4 T. Butter, melted
½ c. Sugar – can use a combination of white and brown if desired
2 T. Cinnamon
Optional: raisins, chopped pecans, etc.
You Will Also Need:
¼ – ½ c. Extra Flour
13×9 baking dish – I like to use a stone one
A Rolling Pin
Fishing Line or Unflavored Dental Floss – about 18 inches in length
Jar (with a lid) or Plastic Zip-lock Bag
Traditionally I make the dough for this recipe in a bread machine. (Work smarter, not harder… that’s my motto.) It’s simple, it’s convenient, and it allows me to do other things while the dough is being made. But if you do not have a bread machine (you should go get one ASAP), you can still make this recipe using a standard dough process and making the dough by hand or in a food processor or mixer.
Step #1 – Make the Dough
If you have a bread machine –
Add dough ingredients to machine mixing bowl in order shown. Set machine on the “dough” setting and let it do its thing. If using nuts/raisins, you can add during the dough process when allowed by the machine (usually signaled by a *beep* mid-way through) or you can just wait and put them in later in the process. Once the dough is complete, turn the dough out on to a floured surface. (Cont. at next step)
If you do not have a bread machine –
Follow a simple dough method for making this dough. Bloom your yeast in warm water for 5-10 minutes. Mix all dry ingredients together. Add water/yeast and melted butter to dry ingredients and blend – You can blend with a fork or your hands till it forms a mass and then knead by hand, but I would recommend using either a food processor or a stand mixer with the dough attachment. (This will not only combine it, but it will also knead it for you.) Once the dough has been formed and kneaded, place in a tightly covered, oiled bowl and allow to rise for about 30 minutes. Knead for additional 5-10 minutes on a floured surface, place back in the bowl, cover, and then allow to rise for an additional 45-60 minutes. Once the second rising is completed, punch down the dough and turn out on to a floured surface.
Step #2 – Form the Dough
On a floured surface, flatten the dough with your hands to form a rectangular-ish shape. Use a rolling pin to squish any air bubbles and finish rolling out the dough until it is about 18-20 inches long and about 9 inches wide. It should look something like this…
Step #3 – Top the Dough
Melt 2-4 tablespoons of butter. Using a pastry brush, brush the entire top of the dough with melted butter so that is in completely covered. (Save any leftover butter to grease your baking pan or brush on the top of the rolls after they come out of the oven.)
Combine sugar and cinnamon in a plastic bag or jar and shake to combine.
Sprinkle cinnamon sugar mixture on top of buttered dough.
Use fingers to evenly spread the cinnamon sugar mixture over the entire surface of the dough… all the way up to the edges. Slightly press the cinnamon mixture into the dough. (You should end up with divots similar to those on a golf ball.)
If you wish to use any additional toppings (nuts, raisins, etc.) sprinkle them on now.
Step #4 – Rolling and Slicing the Dough
Starting with the long end, tightly roll the dough up into a long spiraled log. Make sure you have enough flour on your work surface so that you can easily maneuver the log around. Then take your fishing line or floss, wrap around your fingers of each hand to secure leaving a span of about 6 inches between your hands. Slide the line underneath the roll to the center point. Crisscross the stand and pull. This will smoothly slice through the dough. (If you do not have fishing line or floss available, a knife will work for slicing. However, you are likely to squish the roll if your knife is not ultra sharp. Fishing line or unflavored dental floss definitely work the best.)
Using the same slicing method, cut each half in half and then each quarter into three pieces for a total of twelve pieces.
Step #5 – Rising and Baking
Place cinnamon rolls spiral-side up in a buttered 13×9 pan – I usually do three rows of four rolls. Cover pan with a damp towel, and place in a warm spot. Allow to rise for 45-60 minutes or until doubled in size.
Bake at 350° F. for 20 minutes or until golden brown. Immediately after pulling out of the oven, brush the tops of the cinnamon rolls with a little butter. (For a picture of the final product, see below photos after alternate baking methods.)
Step #6 – Serving and Eating
If you allow the rolls to cool for about 10-15 minutes, you should be able to flip the pan upside down and have them slide right out. Then you can slice or pull apart the warm rolls and serve with icing (See below recipes).
Alternatively, you can allow the rolls to completely cool and then reheat right before serving. I would recommend slicing out a serving size, putting some icing on top, and then microwaving for just a little bit. Microwaving for 30 seconds is usually enough to make 2 rolls hot and yummy for a quick breakfast.
Here are the two main icing recipes that I make.
Traditional Vanilla Icing
2 c. Powdered Sugar
1 tsp. Butter, melted
4+ T. Milk
1 tsp. Vanilla
Combine all ingredients with a whisk. Adjust amount of milk to reach desired consistency – thick or thin.
Maple Pecan Icing
2 c. Powdered Sugar
2 T. Real Maple Syrup
2+ T. Milk
½ c. Chopped Pecans
Combine all ingredients with a whisk. Adjust amount of milk to reach desired consistency – thick or thin. You may also add a splash of vanilla if desired.
If you feel like getting creative with your cinnamon rolls, you can also try alternate baking methods. Here are a few variations that I like to make using the same basic recipe.
– Cinni-minis: Instead of slicing the cinnamon roll log into twelve pieces, slice into twenty four pieces. Cut log in half, then each half in half. Cut each quarter into six small pieces. (Using the fishing line or floss to cut these small pieces works MUCH better than trying to slice with a knife. Just trust me.) Place in a buttered 13/9 pan in six rows of four. Rise and bake for the same time.
– Cinnamon Raisin Bread: Make dough as directed to the topping point. Add raisins to standard cinnamon sugar topping. Instead of rolling the long end, roll the short end so as to form a short, fat log. Tuck ends under and place in a greased loaf pan. Cover and allow to rise for 45-60 minutes. Brush top of loaf with an egg wash right before baking. Bake at 350° F. for 45-60 minutes. Brush top of loaf with melted butter. Cool completely. Before slicing/serving you can drizzle some vanilla icing over the top if desired.
Note: the baking time on this recipe varies depending on altitude, weather conditions, etc. So, just keep an eye on it and check every so often like you would for a standard loaf of bread. When it looks and smells done, it is likely ready.
– Cinnamon Roll Wreath: This is a Christmas tradition in my family. We make one of these for breakfast on Christmas morning every year. Usually I make it large enough to feed a BUNCH of people. So, that is how I have described it below. However, you could scale back the amount and just make a smaller wreath if you don’t have a large number of people to feed.
Make a double batch of dough. Form two cinnamon roll logs as directed in recipe. Slice each into slightly more than twelve pieces – probably around sixteen or so. Arrange rolls in a circle on a round baking sheet. (The rolls should be slightly overlapping.) Rise and bake for the same time as the recipe describes.
Note: Be careful not to make your circle too big or it will run over the sides of your sheet.
Cinnamon Roll Wreath – shaped and ready to rise and bake.
The final product – Cinnamon Roll Wreath.
And there you have it. You can now make your own homemade cinnamon rolls that people will hopefully rave about for years to come. I hope this recipe brings as much joy to your tummy as it does to mine. Happy Baking!