Dec 30 08
by cara
at 8:10 PM
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Cinnamon Rolls

Happy Holidays everyone!  I’ve been planning to share this recipe with all of you since I started this blog back in January, but I wanted to wait to post about these at Christmas since that’s when I usually make them.  I first made this cinnamon roll recipe for Christmas morning 4 or 5 years ago.  It was a recipe originally intended for a bread machine.  I don’t have a bread machine, so over the years I’ve perfected my own technique and balance of ingredients.  For the first few years, I ONLY made these at Christmas, but in the last year or so, I’ve started making them for brunch with my friends, special occasions, and really any time they are requested!  You could say they’ve become my “signature” breakfast/brunch dish.

In the chaos of Christmas this year with a 16 month old, we failed to get any pictures of the cinnamon rolls.  I was up at 5:45 that morning and had an awful sinus headache all day long. (Still suffering from a sinus infection now).  I wish I could say I was up early on Christmas morning just because of the headache, or because I had to work on the cinnamon rolls, or because The Littlest Apple was super excited about Christmas, but nope.   He’s still a little too young for that anyway.  5:45am is what time The Littlest Apple gets up every. single. morning. (and as a result, I get up then too….I just can’t bring myself to get up much earlier than him).  Sorry, just needed to complain about that for a sec.

Back to the cinnamon rolls!  Don’t be intimidated by the yeast and the rises and the rolling, but they do require a little bit of planning ahead because the dough has to rise twice.  It is best to do at least first rise the night before.  If I get started early enough the day before I’m serving them, I’ll roll out the dough after the first rise, add the filling, slice and let them do the second rise over night.  If that doesn’t work in to my schedule (as it happened this year), then I do the first rise overnight, then add filling and do the second rise first thing in the morning.  The second rise takes several hours, but honestly, I’ve stuck them in the oven after only an hour of rising and everything worked out.

One additional note:  I normally use bread flour for the cinnamon rolls, but in a pinch all-purpose flour works great too.  I used all-purpose flour this year (when I found my brand new bread flour full of weevils…blech!!! at 9pm on Christmas Eve) , and I thought the rolls seemed lighter and fluffier than normal.

Okay, so one more additional note:  The Picky Apple doesn’t like cream cheese frosting (and I suspect there may be a few other family and friends who don’t either, but are too polite to say).  So I’ve started making a basic powdered sugar and milk icing to put on a few of the cinnamon rolls.

Here’s just one shot of some of the presents at The Picky Apple’s parents house Christmas morning.  Madness, I tell you!

Cinnamon Rolls


  • 1 cup warm milk (110 degrees F)
  • 1 packet (2 1/2 tsp) yeast
  • 2 eggs, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/3 cup butter, melted
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 4 1/2 cups bread flour (or use all-purpose flour in a pinch)
  • 1 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 2 1/2 tbsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/3 cup butter, room temperature


Add yeast to milk and let stand for 10 minutes.  Meanwhile, mix eggs with sugar using electric mixer for 7 minutes, or until pale.  Add the milk and yeast to the eggs, then add the melted margarine and salt.  Add the flour gradually, then knead for 10 minutes.  (I use my stand mixer for this).  Let rest until doubled (5 hours or overnight).

After the dough has doubled in size, turn it out onto a lightly floured surface.  Let the dough sit while you combine the brown sugar and cinnamon in a small bowl.  Roll dough into a rectangle, approximately 16×21″.  Spread dough with 1/3 cup butter and sprinkle evenly with brown sugar and cinnamon mixture.  Roll up dough jelly-roll style, and cut into 12 rolls.

Place rolls in a greased 9×13″ pan, cover and let rise until nearly doubled.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.  Bake rolls until golden brown, about 15 minutes.  Spread frosting (recipes follow) on warm rolls before serving.

Cream Cheese Frosting


  • 8 oz cream cheese, softened
  • 1/4 cup butter, softened
  • 2-3 cups confectioners’ sugar (to taste)
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/8 tsp salt

In a stand mixer, beat together all ingredients until smooth.  If frosting is too thick, add milk by the tsp until the desired consistency is reached.

Beginner’s Icing

  • 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 tbsp milk
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Combine all ingredients.  If icing is too thick or if you prefer runnier icing, add more milk.  If you prefer thicker icing, add more powdered sugar.

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  1. Cara, I am so intimidated by yeast!! But these sound too delicious not to try. And that is a tremendous amount of presents!

  2. Ricki permalink

    I made this recipe over the Christmas holiday. It was super easy and really, really delicious! Thanks for sharing it!

  3. Ricki,

    I’m glad to hear that you enjoyed the cinnamon rolls. I baked several desserts on Christmas Eve and didn’t quite get around to baking my annual Christmas Morning Cinnamon Rolls this year. It was definitely a smoother morning that way, but I sure did miss having them. Craving them now!!

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