Almost-Famous Cinnamon Rolls

December 30, 2009 · 29 comments · Print This Post

in Bread / Rolls, Breakfast

The art of the copycat recipe is a fickle thing. The much-loved foods that we enjoy in various restaurant settings are almost never truly conducive to at home production. Probably because we would all die of fright if we ever seriously saw just how much butter, cream, and salt goes into, for instance, your favorite Fettuccine Alfredo served in a dimly lit North End hot spot.

But in the interest of a last ditch high calorie hurrah in 2009 I decided to attempt a dish that claimed kinship with the much snacked upon (mostly in mall food courts, airports, and highway rest areas) gooey goodness that is the Cinnabon Cinnamon Roll.

Honestly…I can’t even remember what a true Cinnabon tastes like. Generally I rush past their amazingly scented kiosks as fast as I can in search of a slightly more waistline suitable espresso laden cup of caffeine. However, in the comfort of one’s own home it’s always much easier to give-in to the gluttonous side of your personality.

So while searching for a cinnamon roll recipe to bake for breakfast I happened upon this gem. The most intriguing aspect of the recipe for me wasn’t the claim to fame of these rolls but the fact that they included nutmeg in the dough. This small addition seemed like an excellent flavor boost to what can often times be a rather ho-hum pastry.

The outcome did not disappoint. Eight huge rolls emerged from my oven looking spectacular. Technically the recipe instructs you to cut the dough into only six cinnamon rolls but I draw the line at making baked goods the size of a human head. By slicing the batch into eight portions you’ll end up with only cat-head sized rolls. That’s slightly more socially acceptable, right? Of course, then each fragrant spiral is topped with a thick icing of butter, heavy cream, and confectioners’ sugar so social convention is thrown right out the window. Needless to say I thoroughly savored each spice and sugar infused bite.

Almost-Famous Cinnamon Rolls
Adapted from the recipe at Food Network
Makes 6 enormous rolls, or 8 huge rolls

For the Dough:
1 cup whole milk
1 1/4-ounce packet active dry yeast
1/4 cup plus 1/4 teaspoon granulated sugar
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted, plus more for the bowl
1 large egg yolk
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour, plus more if needed
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

For the Filling:
All-purpose flour, for dusting
12 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened, plus more for the pan
1/2 cup granulated sugar
3 tablespoons ground cinnamon

For the Glaze:
2 cups confectioners’ sugar
1/3 cup heavy cream
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

Make the dough: Warm the milk in a medium saucepan over low heat until it reaches about 100. Remove from the heat and sprinkle in the yeast and 1/4 teaspoon sugar (don’t stir). Set aside until foamy, 5 minutes. Whisk in the melted butter, egg yolk and vanilla.

Whisk the flour, the remaining 1/4 cup sugar, the salt and nutmeg in the bowl of a stand mixer. Make a well in the center and pour in the yeast mixture. Mix on low speed with the dough hook until thick and slightly sticky. Knead on medium speed until the dough gathers around the hook, 6 minutes. (Add up to 2 more tablespoons flour if necessary).

Remove the dough and shape into a ball. Butter the mixer bowl and return the dough to the bowl, turning to coat with butter. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise until doubled, 1 hour 15 minutes.

Roll out the dough, fill and cut into buns (*see instructions below*). Butter a 9-by-13-inch baking pan; place the buns cut-side down in the pan, leaving space between each. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise until doubled, 40 minutes. Preheat the oven to 325.

Bake the buns until golden brown, about 35 minutes. Cool in the pan 15 minutes. Meanwhile, make the glaze: Sift the confectioners’ sugar into a bowl, then whisk in the cream and melted butter. Transfer the buns to a rack and spoon the glaze on top while still warm.

*How to Form Cinnamon Buns*
On a lightly floured surface, roll the dough into a 12-by-14-inch rectangle with the longer side facing you.

Spread with the softened butter, leaving a 1/2-inch border on the far long edge. Mix the sugar and cinnamon; sprinkle over the butter.

Brush the unbuttered far edge with water. Roll the dough away from you into a tight cylinder and press on the long edge to seal.

Cut the cylinder with a sharp knife to make 6 equal-size buns.

{ 26 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Maggie at Eat Boutique December 30, 2009 at 9:09 am

I’ve been on the verge of creating my own cinnamon roll recipe – but I’m gonna save me some time and just make yours! 🙂


2 Jen December 30, 2009 at 9:19 am

Hmmmm…this just might have to be New Year’s breakfast. Eat healthy on the 2nd!


3 Hänni December 30, 2009 at 9:53 am

OMG I haven’t had a Cinnabon since college. You are such a bad influence, now I totally want to make these at home (do ya think there’s an almond flour version floating around somewhere?)


4 Erin December 31, 2009 at 12:27 pm

Sorry sweetie…I know next to nothing about your beloved almond flour. Besides I think healthy flour kind of defeats the purpose – you know 😉


5 Betsy December 30, 2009 at 10:13 am

Working in a Boston area college the pastry chef and exec. chef tried to create a cinnabon for special events. The icing formula they came up with used butter, cream cheese, confectioners sugar, vanilla and orange extract.


6 Susan December 30, 2009 at 10:57 am

Do you think you can prepare these the night before and put into the refrigerator and bake in the morning?


7 Erin December 31, 2009 at 12:49 pm

Susan – I would actually bake the rolls off and then keep them in the refrigerator. Then in the morning you can simply reheat them in the oven and then spread on the icing. The rolls reheat very well.


8 Bob December 30, 2009 at 12:38 pm

I’ve never had a Cinnabon myself, but I love cinnamon rolls. Those look unreal, I definitely need to make some!


9 nicole spaz December 30, 2009 at 1:32 pm

Those rolls have to be HUGE! I can’t imagine cutting them into 6 pieces!
I just made my first batch of cinnamon rolls a few weeks ago. They are so addicting. I’ll have to try these next to compare! These just look so beautiful!


10 Zohar December 30, 2009 at 2:33 pm

I must say, the roll looks very tasty 🙂
I’ve made rolls like these before but with a few changes:
First of all, i think that using brown sugar gives the rolls a richer taste. Second, after rolling the dough up and cutting into seperate rolls i usually stretch the end of the roll out and tuck it underneath so it doesnt open up during the baking and last, to make the rolls extra special, i’ve made these rolls with a chocolate filling and a pie crust bottom spread with petissier cream (is that how you write it?), now that really upgrades the rolls!
Enjoy! 🙂


11 EB December 30, 2009 at 3:10 pm

They look so perfect! Well done.


12 [email protected] December 30, 2009 at 3:13 pm

Yummy and ambitious!
I recently bought frozen cinnamon rolls made by Robinhood Meetinghouse restaurant in Georgetown ME. They were delicious – and a lot less work. I like that in a bun.


13 Natalie December 30, 2009 at 4:22 pm

oh my I just want to grab one! fantastic.


14 Karen December 30, 2009 at 4:30 pm

We made non-yeast cinnamon buns over the weekend and they were FABULOUS. Easy too. See for recipe and awful photo.


15 Mags December 30, 2009 at 9:35 pm

I had so much intended to make cinnamon rolls before the big January diet but didn’t get around to it. I’m bookmarking these for late next year, or in the event that I fail with my New Year’s resolutions during the second week in January….LOL


16 Kelly December 30, 2009 at 10:55 pm

I love the inclusion of nutmeg in the dough. I’ve never heard of a recipe that does that. I love my recipe from Alton Brown a little too much to stray but I may have to do the trick of including the nutmeg in the dough.


17 Cara December 30, 2009 at 11:12 pm

I too am intrigued by the inclusion of nutmeg in the recipe! Your rolls look fantastic! I’ve got a recipe for cinnamon rolls that I’ve adjusted and tweaked over the years to make it my own, but I think I might just try throwing in some nutmeg next time!


18 Dani H December 31, 2009 at 1:24 am

These look simply scrumptious! I hope that you, Chris, Watson and Dexter have a very happy New Year and that 2010 is a fabulous (and healthy) year for all of you.


19 Monica H December 31, 2009 at 10:42 pm

I don’t even like Cinnabon but I want these now! Mostly because I can almost smell them through the screen. I’ll have to make these for my mom, I know she’d love them!


20 Kerstin January 2, 2010 at 12:12 am

Oh wow, they look amazing! I wish I had a few breakfast tomorrow 🙂


21 carrie January 2, 2010 at 6:28 pm

I’m a big fan of the nutmeg. (I told you about those coconut cupcakes that had nutmeg in them, right? yum!) these look fantastic. like, so fantastic I’m wondering when I’m coming up again, and how long I can convince you to let me stay. 😉

happy new year! xxoo!


22 Nicole (dishin') January 5, 2010 at 12:45 pm

I’m drooling!!


23 Sook January 14, 2010 at 5:19 pm

Hi Erin, it’s my first time here and love all the recipes and pictures! These cinnamon rolls look fantastic! I love cinnamon rolls. Yum!


24 Sinful Southern Sweets January 27, 2010 at 9:32 pm

Oh dear! I’m just not even going to sleep well tonight thinking about these little gems. I will be up first thing getting these ready for breakfast!!


25 Blanc-manger February 23, 2010 at 7:59 pm

Wow… I made these buns yesterday. This recipe is fantastic!
Thank you so much for this recipe!


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