Warm Cinnamon Rolls For A Cold Winter Day

Warm Cinnamon Rolls.

Warm Cinnamon Rolls.

It’s cold here in Norcal. And I don’t mean “wimpy-Californian” cold. I mean, its cold. Sub-freezing, burlap on the citrus, frost on the windows, see your breath, don’t slip on the driveway cold. The kids get a kick out of it (we don’t). But the house is still toasty and Carolyn knows just what to bake to warm us up, Cinnamon Rolls. You know, the big, puffy, swirling rolls with the thick white glaze….yup, those. Carolyn pulls out treats like this when the weather gets nasty, and they are so good we almost (and we do mean almost) welcome the cold.

cinna11cinna9And these rolls are a special treat and a good baking project for a cold weekend, where indoor activity and warm kitchens are at a premium. They do take some time, work, and a little gear, but the reward is something almost everyone likes. And who doesn’t like a cinnamon roll? The whole house smells like a bakery, and then you get a big, sweet, warm and yeasty roll with a sugar and cinnamon filling and a sugary vanilla glaze. Hard to beat. Kid’s and adult’s eyes widen when these come to the table.

cinna10Actually, the one person who may not “love” cinnamon rolls is the baker. These do take some time and effort. But this recipes works. It’s from King Arthur Flour, they thoroughly test their recipes, they know what they are doing. And the recipe is big enough so you can split the rolls into batches before baking and freeze half for future use (and the dough does refrigerate overnight or freeze well). So if you make the effort you do get a proven recipe and a batch in the morning or next weekend, if you like. We think it’s a decent payoff. (Right about now Carolyn will say “what do you mean ‘we’?”) 😉

cinna5cinna4The extra work with kind of baking comes from using a yeast-based dough. Yeast is what makes for a soft and puffy roll, but you need to activate the yeast, add it to the dough and then let the dough rise. In most cases, yeast-based doughs requires just a bit more work, but a lot more time (in this recipe, up to a few hours) and some advance planning. And a stand mixer or bread machine really help here. You can make this dough by hand, but it will be a workout and the dough will take longer to rise. Not advised.

cinna12Oh, and did we tell you about the “second rise”? That happens after you spread out the dough, make and add the cinnamon filling, roll up the whole thing and then cut it into slices. (At this point you can refrigerate for baking the next morning or freeze some for future use). You then put the slices in the pan, cover them and let them rise (puff) for another 2 hours, or so.  After that, you are ready to bake, and making the glaze is a snap. Again, not a ton of work, but a decent slug of time. Happily, you start to see what the finished product will look like, and it’s hard not to get excited.

cinna3And when you start baking these rolls, everyone will get excited. Like we said, the kitchen will smell like cinnamon and melted sugar. You will pull these from the oven, layer on the glaze and watch it melt and ooze over the warm rolls. Then grab a cup of coffee (milk for the kids) eat one of these rolls and ignore the cold. Smiles, and usually silence, all around. Right about then, even the baker will think it was worth the wait and the effort… the baker may even have seconds, she will have earned it.cinna1

Cinnamon Rolls:

(Adapted, barely, from King Arthur Flour)

Notes Before You Start:

  • You can start these rolls the night before. Make the dough, let it rise, spread it and make the rolls, then store the cut rolls, covered, in the fridge overnight. Then remove the rolls from the fridge in the morning place in a warm oven (or in a warm spot) and let rise for at least an hour. Then bake, per the instructions.
  • We add cinnamon chips to the recipe (because we can), they are an optional, but very tasty ingredient.
  • The recipe includes dried mashed potato flakes. Why? No idea, but it works.

What You Get: Puffy, sweet and spicy cinnamon rolls with a vanilla glaze. ‘Nuff said.

What You Need: A stand mixer or bread maker will really help kneading the dough. But you can use your hands, just expect to use some serious effort.

How Long? About 4 hours with 30-40 minutes of active time. This is a project, but worthy of a special occasion.


(Makes 16 rolls)


  • 1 packet “highly active” dry yeast; or 2 1/2 teaspoons active dry yeast; or 2 1/2 teaspoons instant yeast
  • 1 cup lukewarm water (add or subtract a tablespoon based on humidity)
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 and 1/4 teaspoons salt
  • 1/4 cup nonfat dry milk
  • 1/2 cup instant mashed potato flakes

Cinnamon and Sugar Filling:

  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 to 1 cup of cinnamon chips (optional)
  • 2 teaspoons all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons milk, to brush on dough


  • 1 and 1/4 cups confectioners’ sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 4 to 5 tablespoons heavy cream  (plus more to adjust consistency)


  1. First, make the dough. If using active dry yeast, dissolve it with a pinch of sugar in 2 tablespoons of the lukewarm water. Let the yeast and water sit at room temperature for 15 minutes, until the mixture bubbles and expands. If using instant yeast, skip this step.
  2. Combine the dissolved yeast (or instant yeast) with the rest of the dough ingredients. Mix and knead everything together—by hand, stand mixer or bread machine set on the dough cycle—till you’ve made a smooth dough. If you are kneading in a stand mixer, it should take about 7 minutes at second speed, and the dough should barely clean the sides of the bowl, maybe sticking just a bit. In a bread machine (or by hand), it should form a smooth ball.
  3. Place the dough in a lightly greased bowl. Cover the bowl, and allow the dough to rise, at room temperature, until it is nearly doubled in bulk, about 1 to 2 hours. Rising may take longer, particularly if you’ve kneaded by hand. Give it enough time to become quite puffy.
  4. While the dough is rising, lightly grease two 9″ round cake pans.
  5. Transfer the risen dough to a lightly greased work surface, and pat or roll it into a 16″ x 12″ rectangle. The dough should spread easily.
  6. To make the filling, whisk together the sugar, cinnamon, cinnamon chips and flour.
  7. Brush the dough lightly with the milk. Then sprinkle the filling evenly over the dough, covering the entire surface. Roll the dough into a log the long way; it’ll stretch to about 20″ long as you roll. Using a serrated knife, slice the log into 16 slices. To cut down on friction and get a smooth cut, rinse the blade in hot water, and wipe it off, between slices.
  8. Space eight rolls in the prepared pans. Flatten them gently. Cover the pans, and let the rolls rise till they’re noticeably puffy, about 1 1/2 to 2 hours; they should spread out and start to crowd one another.
  9. While the rolls are rising, preheat the oven to 375°F. Bake the rolls till they’re brown around the edges and beginning to turn golden brown across the center, about 20 minutes.
  10. To make the glaze, combine the sugar, vanilla, and enough cream to make a spreadable consistency.
  11. Remove the rolls from the oven, and loosen their edges with a knife. Turn them out of the pan onto a rack. Coat with the glaze and serve.

46 thoughts on “Warm Cinnamon Rolls For A Cold Winter Day

  1. Brrrr… burlap on the citrus! I can’t think of much that beats eating warm cinnamon rolls in the same place in which they were created — the whole experience is so cozy and delicious. Currently coveting that experience and also wondering where you find your cinnamon chips.

  2. Fabulous recipe. A little cardamom mixed in with the cinnamon is a nice touch. Apologies: Proofreading police – I think you meant to say you can start them the night before, rather than the right before.

  3. Oh how I love homemade cinnamon rolls! I have not made these in many years. I can’t wait to try your receipe for these. But I am waiting for my stand mixer to arrive. No hand kneading for me!!

  4. I’d like one of those right now. Or maybe two 😉 It certainly is cold enough here. They look delicious. Good post as usual with good photos and detailed instructions. What is dry milk?

  5. Hi, cinnamon rolls .. goes every day .. over here – but I can’t understand that icing that you guys .. always do – I want them naked .. and plenty. *smile

  6. Wow – these look divine! And I agree with the freezing temperatures we are experiencing in Nor Cal – I lived up here about 12 years ago, and don’t remember it ever getting this cold! Lovely post

  7. Lovely pictures! Thanks for the reminder about cinnamon rolls. Might have to make some this weekend. King Arthur’s recipes are always reliable. Just a note – you wondered why there were potato flakes in the dough. Potato (flakes, mashed or leftover potato boiling water) make the dough soft, which is always nice in a cinnamon roll. Now I am thinking about warm, soft cinnamon rolls dripping with glaze. Yum!

  8. Cinnamon chips – genius! Thanks for linking to our recipe over at Small World Supper Club. Cinnamon rolls are time-intensive, but oh-so-worth-it. They were the perfect New Year’s Day breakfast! Love your blog; going to go take a look around!

  9. You cannot go wrong with King Arthur. You all are a lucky family to enjoy deliciousness like that! I have an overnight cinnamon roll recipe in a book somewhere that uses butterscotch pudding but these cinnamon chips look even better.


  10. Pingback: Steak House Yeast Rolls | Spoon Feast

  11. Love that everyone else has picked up on the cinnamon chips..never seen these before. Feeling totally inspired to do a cinnamon bun post now as we have been thinking about adding some brunch features to the blog. We use Nigella’s recipe. Mmmmmm….. Baking time!

  12. Pingback: Steak House Yeast Rolls

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