Soft and Fluffy Cinnamon Rolls

September 9, 2014

I have never baked bread my entire life before this attempt. Truth be told, I’m quite terrified of making bread and everything else that involves yeast. The process just takes too long, I do not know how to properly knead dough, and in my mind it just involves too much room for error.

As much as (maybe even more than) I fear making bread however, I love eating them. I love munching on a good slice of bread (or two) and can be quite the critic when picking out our bread for the week. I want my bread soft on the inside, toasty on the outside, warm, and smelling like an awesome day ready to unfold. I like bread with a cup of piping hot mocha or chocolate. I love bread so much that even if the only way to get ripped abs would be to give up bread 100% percent, I’d choose bread over abs. Maybe that’s why I’m too frightened to make it - I do not want to screw up.

A few weeks ago, I finally gathered up the guts to try this “bread” recipe. It’s far from the loaf of white bread you eat with jam and peanut butter but it was a start that I was willing to give a go. 

Honestly, cinnamon rolls make me nostalgic. They were some of Mommy’s favorites. I remember when my siblings and I were kids, our Mom used to buy cinnamon rolls from Diorico’s Bakeshop in the city (Tacloban) whenever we had extra money, which was not too often. Those sweet rolls from Diorico’s weren’t cheap and every time we had them, it was a treat. When Diorico’s closed, the only time we got to eat cinnamon rolls were when Mommy went to Manila or Cebu for seminars and brought home Red Ribbon cinnamon rolls for pasalubong.

Cinnabon cinnamon rolls I got acquainted with much later, when I spent one summer at the Ateneo (for its Ateneo Junior Summer Seminar). My mom was staying at the COA dorm, taking radiotherapy sessions from a nearby hospital and we used to meet up during weekends. As far as I can remember, she let me try Cinnabon and from then on, I was hooked.

Now before I get too sentimental, let’s discuss the recipe. I just googled “Cinnabon cinnamon rolls recipe” and I chose Lauren’s Latest’s. It is easy to follow, does not require kneading (as long as you have a stand mixer), and filled with step-by-step photos. The only step I found difficult to do was rolling out the dough to a thin, wide “sheet.” That is an upper body workout in itself. I’ve broken down her instructions to smaller, easier-to-read chunks below, and if you need to look at step-by-step photos, check them here in her recipe.

When I made these rolls, I substituted the margarine (in Lauren's recipe) with good old butter. I never use margarine when baking. I also added chopped nuts and raisins into the filling because I like a bit of texture in my cinnamon rolls. I sprinkled more chopped nuts on the tops of the rolls. To some of them, I also sprinkled mini chocolate chips as soon as they came out of the oven. Finally, I omitted the glaze simply because it’s just added sugar, and as hard as this is to believe, I’m trying to cut back on sugar already (you probably should too). The rolls’ cinnamon filling already has quite a bit of sugar in it so I did not miss the glaze. If you want to make it closer to the original Cinnabon rolls, it’s entirely up to you to add the glaze, I won’t judge. ;)

The rolls were sooooo soft and fluffy I can hardly believe I made them, and just spot-on as far as taste is concerned, you might not even want to buy Cinnabon rolls anymore because they’re so easy to make at home. They are perfect for breakfast with your cup of joe.

So if you’re on the fence about baking bread or even baking in general, try this one out as I did! This definitely gave me the confidence to try out baking other breads, as you will soon see in the coming posts. As always, the comments section below is open to any questions you may have, so feel free to drop a line. I’d love hear them.

Cinnabon Cinnamon Rolls Print Recipe
Recipe adapted from Lauren's Latest, makes approximately 16 rolls
Prep time: 6 hours Cook time: 17 minutes Total time: 6 hours and 17 mins
For the Dough
  • 3/4 cup warm water
  • 2 1/4 tsps active dry yeast (use the fast acting kind)
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup buttermilk, at room temperature
  • 1 egg, at room temperature
  • 1/3 cup canola or vegetable oil
  • 4 1/2 cups unbleached, all purpose flour
For the Filling
  • 1/2 cup or 1 stick unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 1/4 cups packed light brown sugar
  • 2 1/2 tbsps ground cinnamon
  • 2 tbsps cornstarch
  • 1/2 to 1 cup chopped nuts (optional)
  • 1/2 cup raisins (optional)
For the Glaze
  • 2 oz cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tbsp corn syrup
  • 1 tsp fresh lemon juice
  • 1 1/4 cups powdered sugar
Make the dough
  1. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook, pour in water, yeast and 1 tablespoon of the granulated sugar. Stir and proof for 5 minutes.
  2. Once the mixture looks bubbly and frothy, pour in remaining sugar and salt. Stir on low for 15-20 seconds.
  3. In a small bowl, measure buttermilk, oil and egg. Whisk ingredients together until egg is incorporated to other two ingredients. Pour contents into the water and yeast mixture. Stir another 20 seconds in the mixer.
  4. Pour 2 cups of flour into mixer and stir on low until incorporated. Sprinkle flour in by 1/4 cup increments until dough cleans the sides and bottom of the bowl.
  5. Dough should be sticky but not sticky enough to stick to your hands when touched. Once it has reached this stage, turn mixer on again and knead for 5 minutes.
  6. Remove dough from bowl, grease (oil) and place back into the same mixing bowl (since it's practically clean anyway). Cover with plastic wrap and a dish towel. Rise 1-2 hours or until dough has doubled in size.
Fill and cut into rolls
  1. In a medium size bowl, stir brown sugar, cinnamon, cornstarch, and nuts and raisins (if using) together until combined. Set aside. This will be the filling.
  2. Punch down dough in the bowl. Flour a large clean table liberally with flour. Lightly flour the dough as well.
  3. Roll dough out to be a 20x30 rectangle (or as close to that as possible) while moving dough around to ensure it's not sticking to your work surface. If it's a little short or uneven, feel free to cut off the edges to even it all out.
  4. Spread softened butter over dough, being sure to go right to the edges and leaving a 1-inch strip untouched on one of the longer sides of dough.
  5. Dump brown sugar mixture onto the middle of the dough and spread with your hands, creating an even layer over top of the margarine, still leaving that 1-inch strip of dough untouched. If you have any filling that falls off the sides of the dough, use a bench scraper to replace. Lightly press the sugar mixture into the margarine using a rolling pin.
  6. Roll the dough up into a tight log, finishing with the untouched 1-inch strip of dough on the bottom to seal the entire thing together.
  7. Cut off the uneven ends to even out the log. Score log every 2 inches and then slice your rolls using those marks.
  8. Place into parchment-paper-lined, greased pans. I put 12 rolls into a 9x13 pan, and the 4 remaining in an 8-inch round pan. Cover pans with plastic wrap and dish towels.
  9. Let rolls rise another 1-2 hours or until they are touching and have risen almost double. Be aware that they will most likely spread out more than rise up.
  10. Bake in a preheated 350 degree for 17 minutes, or until tops start to brown. Watch them carefully!
Make the glaze
  1. While the rolls are baking, whip cream cheese and margarine together. Stir in vanilla, corn syrup and lemon juice. Scrape sides and mix again.
  2. Pour in powdered sugar and stir slowly until it starts to incorporate. Then mix on high for 5 minutes or until frosting starts to lighten in color.
  3. Scrape sides and mix again briefly.
  4. Once rolls have been removed from the oven, frost using half the amount made. Then after they have cooled a few more minutes, frost again with remaining frosting. The first frosting will melt down into the rolls and the second layer should stay put.
  5. Serve warm.

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