Daring Bakers, June: Cinnamon Rolls

This month the Daring Bakers kept our creativity rolling with cinnamon bun inspired treats. Shelley from C Mom Cook dared us to create our own dough and fill it with any filling we wanted to craft tasty rolled treats, cinnamon not required!
I made cinnamon orange rolls topped with Swiss meringue cream cheese frosting.

I'd planned to fill the rolls with frangipane, but I was afraid all the almond cream would run out with the rolls on their sides, so I simplified. Swiss meringue isn't the usual cinnamon roll icing, but I had some left over and had some cream cheese I needed to use up, so I combined them and slathered the rolls with them. It worked out well!

The dough is made in the stand mixer. I'm always wary about making dough in my stand mixer because dough that's too hearty can easily burn its motor out, but this dough was luscious and soft the whole time. It took a bit longer to ball up before any official kneading could start, 15 minutes instead of 10, but results will vary. I ended up with about 3 cups of dough, and this photo shows the dough doubled (and then some because I left it a little too long).

Very soft dough on the sprayed counter.

Dough rolled out. Honestly, I use my hands a lot to shove it out and flat and used the pin to finish.

I forgot to photograph the dough sprinkled with the cinnamon sugar, but here it is rolled up. The dough is very soft, but I rolled it up quickly, ending seam-side down, and it wasn't a problem.

Sliced up. With such soft dough, slicing could be daunting because it really squishes down and I'm afraid it will deflate, but again, going quickly and just pressing straight down works out just fine.

The recipe directions place the rolls in a 9x13 baking dish, but I used two 9" cake pans instead.

I wanted to bake the rolls fresh the next morning, so I retarded proofing in the fridge over night. I took them out 3 hours before baking so they could proof to double the size.


Baked! I've had a few cinnamon rolls that weren't cooked all the way through, and the directions called for pulling the rolls when they reached a golden brown, and I wanted until the golden brown color reached into the rolls' crevices.


One pan frosted, one pan unfrosted. I frosted the second pans later. True to Swiss meringue's form, it held its shape even after being spread on the warm buns, even with the cream cheese mixed in.

Oooh, lookit that swirly closeup!

And with schmear.

Mmmm, moist, fluffy rolls.

This recipe is delicious and easy--definitely a keeper.

Cinnamon Buns

(from The Bread Baker's Apprentice by Peter Reinhart)
Makes 8-12 large or 12-16 smaller buns
6½ tablespoons (100 ml) (3 oz) (90 gm) granulated sugar
1 teaspoon (5 ml) (6 gm) salt
5½ tablespoons (85 ml) (2¾ oz) (80 gm) shortening, unsalted butter or margarine, at room temperature
1 large egg, slightly beaten
1 teaspoon (5 ml) lemon extract OR 1 teaspoon (5 ml) grated lemon zest
3½ cups (840 ml) (16 oz) (450 gm) unbleached bread (or all-purpose/plain) flour
2 teaspoons (10 ml) (¼ oz) (6 gm) instant yeast (active dry worked as well)
1 1/8 – 1 ¼ cups (270-300 ml) whole milk or buttermilk, at room temperature
½ cup (120 ml) (3½ oz) (100 gm) cinnamon sugar (6½ tablespoons (100ml) (3 oz) (90 gm) granulated sugar plus 1½ tablespoons (20 ml) (1/3 oz) (10 gm) ground cinnamon)
  1. In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together sugar, salt and shortening (though it is not difficult to do by hand, using a strong spoon).
  2. Add the egg and lemon extract to the creamed sugar and shortening and mix together until smooth.
  3. Add the flour, yeast and milk to the mixer and mix on low speed until the dough begins to form a ball.
  4. At this point, switch to the dough hook attachment and knead for 10 minutes (if kneading by hand, you will probably need to do so for closer to 12 – 15 minutes). The dough will be silky and supple, but not overly sticky. You may need to add a touch of flour if your dough is too sticky – that is okay.
  5. Lightly oil a bowl, turn the kneaded dough out into it, turning to coat, then cover the bowl with plastic wrap.
  6. Allow the dough to rest (ferment) until it has doubled in size, approximately 2 hours.
  7. Once the dough has rested and risen, you are ready to shape the cinnamon buns. Prepare your a sheet pan by lining it with parchment paper.
  8. Spray your work surface lightly with cooking spray and turn the dough out onto the work surface.
  9. Using a rolling pin, roll the dough, into a rectangle about 2/3 an inch (15 mm) thick, 14 inches (350 mm)wide and 12 inches (300 mm) long (for large buns) (or 18 inches (450 mm) wide by 9 inches (230 mm) long for smaller ones). You may need to sprinkle the dough and/or work surface with a bit of flour to keep the dough from sticking. This is okay.
  10. Sprinkle the cinnamon sugar filling over the surface of the dough.
  11. Starting with a long end, roll the dough, creating a spiral, into a log shape, making sure to end with the seam side down.
  12. Cut the dough into pieces approximately 1¾ inches (45 mm) thick (for large buns) (1¼ inch (30 mm) for smaller buns).
  13. Place buns approximately ½ inch (15 mm) apart on the prepared pan. They shouldn't be touching at this time.
  14. Allow the shaped buns to proof at room temperature for 75 – 90 minutes until they have nearly doubled in size. They will now be touching each other. If you are not planning on baking the buns the same day as you are preparing them, you can place them into the refrigerator after they are shaped (before this rise) for up to 2 days. If you do so, you will need to allow them to return to room temperature prior to baking, which means removing them from the refrigerator about 3 or 4 hours before baking.
  15. Preheat the oven to moderate 350°F/180°C/gas mark 4 degrees at the end of this proofing time.
  16. Bake the buns for 20 – 30 minutes, until golden brown
  17. Allow the buns to cool for 10 minutes in the pan, then drizzle with glaze (recipe below). Remove the buns from the pan to a cooling rack and allow them to cool for at least 20 minutes before eating.
White fondant glaze for cinnamon buns:
(also from The Bread Bakers' Apprentice)
Sift 4 cups (500 gm) (17½ oz) of confectioners' (icing) sugar into a large bowl. Add 1 teaspoon (5 ml) of lemon or orange extract and between 6 tablespoons to ½ cup (90 to 120 ml) warm milk, whisking well until all of the sugar is dissolved. (Add the smaller amount of milk first, whisking briskly, then add slowly until you have the consistency you want for drizzling over the buns.)

You can replace the lemon extract/zest with the extract/flavoring of your choice. I usually use vanilla extract.
This dough is silky, smooth and so lovely to work with, and the resulting buns are light and so incredibly easy to eat. I have made these several times, with traditional cinnamon-sugar filling and also with a fruit compote for a fresh, summery treat. Delicious!

I used this Swiss meringue recipe from Serious Eats.

  • 165 grams egg whites
  • pinch cream of tartar
  • Pinch of salt
  • 285 grams sugar
  • 453 grams butter, cold and pliable, cut into 1 inch pieces
  1. Set a pot of water to simmer over high heat. In a mixer bowl from your stand mixer, combine the egg whites, salt, and cream of tartar. Whisk vigorously for about 1 minute, until the egg whites are frothy and the solids are completely dissolved. Slowly add the sugar, a little at a time, whisking vigorously as you go. The mixture should turn light and grow in volume slightly.
  2. Once the water begins to simmer, set the mixer bowl containing the mixture over the pot of simmering water. Whisk the mixture vigorously. Periodically remove the bowl from the pot to take the temperature of the mixture, then return it to the pot and continue to whisk. Repeat until the temperature reaches 140° Fahrenheit. Remove from heat.
  3. Carefully set the mixer bowl up on the stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Whip the mixture on high speed for 7 to 10 minutes, until the meringue becomes very thick, shiny, and holds firm peaks. The mixture and bowl should feel cool. Add the butter a little at a time, mixing thoroughly between additions and scraping down the sides of the bowl. The mixture will look loose, but continue to whisk and it will firm up again. Once the mixture has reached the desired consistency, so it stands up on it's own, add the flavoring and whisk to combine. If coloring the buttercream, add gel color a little at a time and whisk well before adding more until you reach the desired color.
  4. The buttercream may be stored for 2 days, covered in the fridge (warning, it will absorb the odor of anything else around it). When ready to use, allow it to soften a bit at room temperature, then re-whip to desired consistency before use.

Check out my fellow DBers' rolls through our blogroll.


Anonymous said…
I'm impressed - Swiss meringue cream cheese frosting is my nemesis! I've had both ego-crushing failure and resounding successes. How much cream cheese did you use in the frosting? It seems to be missing from the recipe... Anyway, your cinnamon buns look totally delicious.
shelley c. said…
Mmmmm... they look outstanding. And I love that you used a swiss meringue cream cheese frosting! Thanks for baking along this month!
Julie said…
Thanks, everyone!

Korena, I used about an equal amount by weight of cream cheese to butter by. I've done a recipe that adds the cream cheese and butter at the same time, but for this, I added it after I'd made the buttercream and had already stored it in the fridge for a few days.

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