Cinnamon Rolls

Yesterday I was invited to a desert party for Valentine’s day. It was desert so I assumed (wrongfully as it was proofed) that the main thing will be chocolate, since there is all this philosophy about chocolate and love and yada, yada. Instead of repeating the same pattern I decided to make something different. I made (as you can tell from the picture) cinnamon rolls. There are a couple of reasons for that: 1) I love cinnamon (I dedicated a whole blog entry on that) and 2) there is something about the aroma of yeast that makes homes really smell like homes, nice and cozy. Good cinnamon rolls, however, although simple to make, for sure require time and careful steps. They can go from puffed to flat in matter of minutes. None of the steps requires any super talent or any excellence or even any skill for that matter. All of them though, require religious attention to the execution.

So mixing the ingredients:

  • 4 egg yolks
  • 1 whole egg
  • 20 oz of flour (about 4 cups)
  • 3 tbls of melted butter
  • 1 package of instant rise yeast
  • 1 tbs and 1/4 tbs of salt
  • 2 oz of sugar (1/4 cup)

Nothing really so hard. Beat the eggs and the sugar, add the butter, sift the flour, add the yeast, the salt and mix. And then neat the dough for 15 min and let rise for 3 hours of until it doubles in volume. The meantime prepare the filling by mixing:

  • 4 oz of light brown sugar
  • 1 tbls of cinnamon (cassia actually)

Nothing hard here either. Actually I like to add a small dash of pumpkin spice to make it more homey if you get my drift. When the dough has risen just punch it down to to get rid of excess air and open it to a 12 in x 18 in rectangular. Brush it with melted butter and leave un-brushed a 1/4 in strip at the edge of the dough. spread the filling evenly leaving only a the un-brushed region. Pack it down with your palms to make sure nothing is lose. Roll it carefully, although unavoidably you will lose some of the filling. Cut in 12 an inch and a half wide wedges and put them in a well buttered pan. Make sure there is at least half an inch space to every direction around the rolls. That ‘s all. You are almost done. Cover with “film du plastique” and put in the refrigerator for at least 10 hours; 16 will be better. You will need now the most important ingredient… Patience. And your patience will be rewarded with a very fine texture.

There is a very specific way yeast works. The little unicellular creatures will start eating up the sugar and will produce CO2. When we put the dough later in the oven, those CO2 bubbles will be expanded and when the dough solidifies, they result in a nice spongy structure we all love. However, if we expose those creatures to cozy and warm environment they will eat up the sugar too fast producing big bubbles. The warm dough will make it easier for the bubbles to collide and join together resulting in bigger and bigger bubbles. That is not good; although tasty it is ugly. By putting the dough in the fridge, we hinder the process, and we create very small bubbles and since the dough is cold there will be almost no coalescence among them.The next day we take the rolls out and we have to wake up the dough. That ‘s were things start getting unorthodox. We put it the oven on the top rack, and at the bottom rack, we have pan, that contains hot water for 30 min. It is like a sauna for the yeast. This rise in humidity and temperature, will wake up the yeast which will start eating the left over sugar and all those little bubbles will expand, but in a more controlled way. If we have done that immediately after making the rolls the rise would have been too fast that will have resulted in not as pretty rolls in a less refined texture.That ‘s where disaster stroke me! I had the buns just out of the sauna resting them on the stove top (which was actually turned off for hours).

I got rid of the warm water,which I had in a pyrex dish for the steam, and I thought it would be a good idea just to put the warm dish on top of the dish with the rolls, to keep the warm while I was heating the oven to 350 F, where you eventually bake for 30 min, or the until the internal temperature reaches 190 F. The mean time I was working on a simple glaze.

  • 2.5 oz of cream cheese
  • 3 1/2 tbls of whole milk
  • 4 cups of extra fine sugar

That was the moment disaster stroke… The pan on top, somehow was cooling very fast, the stresses on the pan was to strong to handle and in only a split second it shattered with a loud noise, and glass pieces of various sizes, where all over the kitchen floor, stove, the counters and unfortunately on the rolls. I was shocked and left there stunned looking at the disaster and 20+ hours of work and patience. I had to call a dear friend to help me clean… and trash my buns (I mean my cinnamon buns).That night I ended up bringing to the dinner a Ginger-Citrus Ring. You start just like the cinnamon rolls, but the filling has:

  • 1 cup of white sugar
  • 1 cup of flour
  • 2 tbls spoon of lemon zest,
  • candied and
  • fresh ginger, all finely chopped

You open again the dough, this time at 12 in x 24 in rectangular, brush it with butter and roll it. at the end use a beaten egg to stick the seam and pinch it across to make sure nothing will ooze out. When done, instead of cutting, make it into a circle, like the snake eating it’s tail stick it by the egg. The rest is just a the cinnamon rolls. After baking make a simple glaze by diluting your favorite jam with some water and glaze the ring.

It wasn ‘t as good. It will never be. But such things remind me of one thing. Why there are ready to buy rolls at the stores. And made me appreciate a bit better the metal unbreakable pans.

Printable Recipe Card

Cinnamon Rolls


High cal Calories 567kcal

fat Total Fat 8g

sat fat Saturated Fat 4g

High chol Cholesterol 92mg

High sodium Sodium 785mg

High carbs Total Carbohydrate 119g

Serving size 157g Calories from fat 68kcal Fiber 2g Protein 8g Sugar 81g
12 servings


  • Dough:
  • 4 egg yolks
  • 1 whole egg
  • 20 oz of flour (about 4 cups)
  • 3 tbls of melted butter
  • 1 oz yeast (instant rise)
  • 1 tbs and 1/4 tbs of salt
  • 2 oz of sugar (1/4 cup)
  • Filling:
  • 4 oz of light brown sugar
  • 1 tbls of cinnamon (cassia actually)
  • Icing:
  • 2.5 oz of cream cheese
  • 3 1/2 tbls of whole milk
  • 4 cups of extra fine sugar


  1. Beat the egg yolks and the sugar until lighten in color.
  2. Add the the butter.
  3. Sift the flour.
  4. Add the yeast.
  5. The salt and mix.
  6. Neat the dough for 15 min and let rise for 3 hours of until it doubles in volume.
  7. Mix the sugar and the cinnamon.
  8. Once the dough rise, punch it down.
  9. Stretch the dough to a thickness of 1/4 inch in a rectangular shape of 12x18in.
  10. Brush some butter on the surface.
  11. Sprinkle the sugar cinnamon mixture.
  12. Roll the dough perpendicular to the shorter side.
  13. Cut in 1 inch rolls.
  14. Place them on well buttered pan.
  15. Either leave them in the fridge overnight or on the counter for 3 hours.
  16. Get a pan and add hot water.
  17. Place in on the lower rack of the oven.
  18. On the top rack add the cinnamon rolls.
  19. Let them there for 30 mins to proof.
  20. Remove the water pan and bake in 350F oven.
  21. Prepare the icing by mixing the ingredients.
  22. Serve warm with the icing.

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Last modified: April 4, 2014 by Georgios Pyrgiotakis