My mom never made a pan of cinnamon rolls — she’d make four or five. There would be a couple pans draped with cotton kitchen towels on every counter, and the table would disappear underneath a cinnamon roll shroud. The whole house would be bathed in the aroma of yeast, cinnamon, butter.
Mom’s rolls were always about 2 inches across, golden on all sides, peppered with dark raisins and bits of walnuts and topped with a powdered sugar frosting. It seems every baker has a slant on how to craft rolls. Some like to use the buttery, rich brioche roll for the dough. Some swear by melting butter for the gooey interior; others don’t use butter at all – just cinnamon and sugar. And raisins – that’s a matter of debate at our house. I’m not a fan of raisins in my rolls – in cookies, yes; cinnamon rolls, big chunks of walnuts, please.
And as far as cinnamon roll construction – well, I loved my mom’s rolls, truly, but I like a bigger roll. I don’t use a cookie sheet like my mom, I use a casserole dish so that I can have tall, thick rolls that push together as they rise and bake. Now maybe my cinnamon roll philosophy differs, because I don’t have leftovers. I make two pans – 16 rolls – and that’s it. My mom would make enough rolls to feed my brothers and sisters (all six of us!) for a couple breakfasts, and then she’d fill the freezer with leftovers.
My rolls differ from my mom’s in another way, too: They’re fast and foolproof. I borrowed my no-fail bread recipe to craft these rolls. The recipe goes together quickly and isn’t as heavy as a standard roll. I save the butter for the filling – there’s none in the dough making this a lighter, but still good-sized, breakfast treat.
- Servings: 16 LARGE rolls
- Prep time: 45 minutes + 1 1/2 hours rising
- Cook time: 30 minutes
- 1 batch easy-to-make bread
- 4 Tbsp. butter, softened, divided
- 1 cup brown sugar
- 2 tsp. cinnamon
- Dash of salt
- 1/2 cup chopped walnuts
- 5 Tbsp. butter, softened
- 2 1/2 to 3 cups powdered sugar
- 2 Tbsp. milk or heavy cream
- Prepare the bread recipe, substituting one of the cups of warm water with warm milk (for a total of 2 1/2 cups liquid – so 1 1/2 cups water, 1 cup milk). Proceed to the step where you divide the dough into two equal parts. Instead of making loaves of bread, roll out each piece of dough into a 9″ x 13″ rectangle.
- In a small dish blend the brown sugar, cinnamon and salt. With a kitchen knife, gently spread the 2 tablespoons of the butter over the dough. Sprinkle half of the cinnamon and sugar blend over the first dough rectangle. Going from one long side to the other, roll up the dough, careful to make the dough tight enough so that the filling will stay in but not so tight that it can’t rise.
- Cut the rolled dough into 8 equal pieces – dividing it first in half, then in half again and each piece in half. Place the pieces onto a 9″ x 13″ casserole pan that has been lightly greased.
- Repeat with the second piece of dough.
- Let the rolls rise for 30 minutes. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees F. Bake for about 20 minutes or until the rolls are lightly browned. Let the rolls cool for at least 30 minutes in the pan before frosting.
- In a small bowl, whip together the frosting ingredients, adding more powdered sugar until the glaze has a slightly thicker consistency than corn syrup. Drizzle over rolls and let the frosting set before removing from the pan.
This post was originally published in 2010 and is updated regularly.