My Favorite Cinnamon Rolls

from Emily (who loves food)

Okay, nothing quite beats a cinnamon roll for breakfast. The soft fluffy dough, the gooey bottoms, the perfect way they unwind. I’m personally not a cream-cheese-frosting fan… frosting is for cupcakes, not for breakfast, but a simple milk n’ icing sugar glaze is the perfect substitute.

I’ll be honest, usually I end up making these for afternoon tea. You have to be commit at least two or three hours to the preparation of a good cinny’ roll (forget no-yeast, quick-rise, no-proofing, one-hour recipes. Bread is bread, and you have to do all the time-consuming rising, otherwise it’s just scones). Usually though, I’m not prepared enough to put in the hours the day before – I’ll decide at 10am that I want a cinnamon roll, and will usually be eating them around 3pm.

This time however, I thought ahead. I had someone to impress, which was enough to kick me into gear early. I made the dough on the wednesday, and let rise in the fridge through thursday, ready to be rolled on friday morning.

That’s the beauty of this recipe – an adaptation of The Pioneer Woman’s famous write-up – you can stick it in the fridge to give it a slow rise. And trust me, I’ve tried a few recipes in my cinnamon roll career, but The Pioneer Woman’s takes the cake. No frills, just fluffy, lightly sweetened, sticky cinnamon-y goodness. They’re not too heavy, not nearly as calorie-dense as some of their buttery cousins and are simply the perfect morning treat.

Unfortunately, the original recipe heralds roughly 50 rolls. Which is fine if you’re feeding the boys on the ranch, but not if you just want to whip up a treat for a couple of people. So here’s a recipe that makes about 12, and can be halved easily if you’re just entertaining a few.

The original recipe also claims to be no-knead, but I’ve had a lot more success with the recipe by chucking a wee knead in here. You want to wake up the sleepy gluten, and get all the goodness possible out of all the little grains.



My Favorite Cinnamon Rolls – Makes 12 – Adapted from The Pioneer Woman

Prep time: 2 – 4 hours, depending on how your yeast is feeling  Cook time: 20-25mins*

  • 1 1/3 cups milk (whole probably works best, but I use trim and don’t notice any bad effects).
  • 1/3 cup oil
  • 1/3 cup sugar (vanilla sugar, if you have it)
  • 1 8g packet dried yeast (or roughly 2tsp)
  • 2 2/3 cups high-grade flour + 1/3 cup
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/3 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 40g softened butter (more or less, you have to do it by eye a bit).
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • Throw in some sultanas, baked apples, walnuts, chocolate chips or anything else you like!


Mix the milk, oil and sugar together in a saucepan, and heat over a medium-high heat. You want to scald the mixture, which means heating it up until just before boiling point. Then you want to whip it off the heat, and let it cool to luke-warm body temperature (about 20mins).

Sprinkle yeast over the warm milk mixture, and leave for 5mins or so, until foamy.

In a large mixing bowl, sift in the 2 2/3 cups flour, then add the milk and yeast mixture, stirring the whole thing together until it forms a craggy mass. Lightly dampen a tea towel, drape it over the bowl (you want to make a lovely warm ecosystem inside for the yeast to do it’s thing) and then put the bowl in a warm place (like an airing cupboard) to double in size. The original recipe says this should take an hour, but it took more like 1 hour and 40 mins for me.

Once risen, add the extra 1/3 cup of flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt. At this stage, give the dough a small knead, only about 5 – 7 mins by hand, or 4 mins on the dough hook. I personally like to do it by hand – there’s something really satisfying about beating up the dough. Place back in the bowl, and cover.

Now you can use the dough immediately, or pop it in the fridge for up to three days until it’s ready to use.

When you’re ready to make the rolls, roll the dough out into a long rectangle on a floured surface. It should be about 5mm-1cm thick. This takes a little while, because the dough is very elastic, but persist!

Soften the butter in the microwave, and mix the cinnamon and sugar into it. Then spread the butter mixture over the surface of the dough. Not enough? Add more butter.

Once you’ve covered the whole rectangle in cinnamon mix, roll tightly from the side furthest away from you.Try to keep it in a neat line, and don’t roll loosely. Once you have a long tube/slug shape, take some dental floss and, slipping it underneath the roll, use it to slice off 3.5cm sections by pulling up the ends and sharply crossing them through the dough (don’t have dental floss? Use a warm knife).

Place the rolls on a baking tray, leaving a little space between them, but not enough so they wont be touching when they rise. Cover with a dampened tea towel, and let sit for another 30mins while you preheat the oven to 180C.

Then bake them in the oven for 20-25mins*, until golden brown and smelling fantastic.

You can eat them as they are, or glaze with 2 cups icing (confectioners) sugar, mixed with 2 tbs milk.

*as usual, my oven cooks bread double-time. Mine were done in 14mins.

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