September 22, 2012

Cinnamon Sticky Rolls

Perhaps one of our favorite things about the weekend is the ability to have a leisurely breakfast at home. During the week, I like to sit at home for a bit and have a cup of tea and some granola, and Michael has a granola bar at work. On the weekends, though, we have a different ritual. Michael has become our in-house coffee expert, and recently we've been enjoying Sweet Maria's coffee brewed in our new Chemex coffeemaker. Whenever I have a chance (or an excuse, like some heavy cream or buttermilk sitting in the fridge that I just must use before it goes bad), I make us a weekend breakfast treat, like scones or biscuits, and put them in the freezer to be baked fresh in the morning. We've already posted our standard cinnamon bun recipe, but today we want to share with you a new variety - something that's a bit more like a sticky bun, because the filling turns  into gooey caramel that bubbles out of the sweet dough. 

This recipe came about because we had tried and loved Joy the Baker's Cinnamon Sugar Pull-Apart Bread, but realized that it was impractical, since it clearly must be eaten fresh out of the oven, and the fact that it is also clearly far more than two people need was probably not going to stop us from eating the entire thing. So, we converted it into individual rolls which rise in muffin tins and then can be frozen and baked as needed.

Cinnamon Sticky Rolls (makes 8 rolls)
Adapted from Joy the Baker


- 2 1/4 teaspoons (1 packet) active dry yeast
- 1/4 cup warm water
- 2 and 3/4 cup flour, plus 2 tablespoons
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 4 tbsp (1/2 stick) butter
- 1/3 cup milk
- 2 large eggs, at room temperature
- 1 tsp vanilla extract


- 1 cup sugar
- 1 tbsp cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp nutmeg
- 4 tbsp (1/2 stick) butter

First, activate the yeast by whisking it into the warm water and adding a pinch of sugar. The water shouldn't be hot - just warm water from the tap. Add a small pinch of sugar (about a half teaspoon), and let it sit for five minutes. The yeast should be foamy - if it isn't, then the yeast is no good. Throw it out and try again.

Put the milk and butter together in a small saucepan over mediu low heat until the butter has melted. Give the mixture a good stir and remove from the heat, then add the vanilla extract. Let it cool for a few minutes. 

Meanwhile, in a large mixing bowl (or in a stand mixer), stir together 2 cups of the flour, the sugar, and the salt. 

Pour the milk mixture and the yeast and water into the dry ingredients and stir with a spatula or with the paddle attachment of your stand mixer on low until just mixed. Add the eggs and continue to mix until the eggs are incorporated (this will take a few minutes). Add another 3/4 cup of the flour and mix for about two minutes. The dough should be well mixed and a little sticky at this point.

Transfer the dough to a large, greased bowl, and cover with plastic wrap. Keep it in a warm, draft-free place to rise for about an hour, or until it's doubled in size (we find it helpful to snap a picture at the beginning of the process to help gauge when it's doubled).

Near the end of the rising time, begin to prepare the filling. Mix together the sugar, cinnamon, and nutmeg in a small bowl, and set aside. Then put the butter in a saucepan over medium low heat and brown it - the butter will separate into a clear looking liquid and little flecks of solids. As you cook, the solid flecks will begin to turn brown and take on a nutty smell. Remove from the heat immediately (so you don't burn it) and transfer the butter to a measuring cup with a pouring spout.

Punch down the dough with your fist and knead in the final two tablespoons of flour, then cover the dough with a clean towel and let it rest for five minutes. Then use a rolling pin to roll the dough out into about a 16 inch square. 

Brush the square with the brown butter and sprinkle with the cinnamon sugar mixture (yes, all of it. It's a lot but it's going to make your ooey gooey center, so it's important). With a pizza cutter or a thin, sharp knife, cut the square into eight strips about two inches wide. Roll the strips up from one end, and place them individually into a muffin tin (note that if you do this correctly it will not look like it does in the picture. I did this part of the project when Michael was not home, meaning that I wasn't too sure on the math but because I am impatient I just plunged right into it anyway - and ended up cutting shorter strips than necessary, then rolling two strips around each other. Also I made nine. But it will be better if you make eight, and cut them like I said, not as I did).

When you have all eight rolls in the muffin tin, cover it loosely with plastic wrap and let them rise for another 45 minutes, again until just about doubled in size.

At this point, you can put the rolls in the freezer until they have solidified, then remove them to a plastic bag to bake when you're ready.

Whenever you're ready to bake, preheat the oven to 350 degrees and put the buns in. Bake them for 18 - 22 minutes, until they've puffed up and are lightly browned on top (buns that have been frozen may take a little bit longer).


  1. What a great idea! I've been looking for things just like this because I'm tired of having to throw out the remains of sweet loaves and cakes because we can't get through them fast enough. Thanks for an excellent remedy! :)

  2. Cinnamon has many healthy benefits including anti-clotting, improving memory and brain function and of course the benefits for weight loss and it's ability to prevent the onset of diabetes cinnamon tea benefits

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