There have been lots of blog posts about cinnamon rolls lately, and it’s easy to understand why. I mean, they’re irresistible! The Pioneer Woman has an incredible yeast cinnamon roll recipe. It’s very popular, for good reason, but like all yeast breads, you need a lot of time to allow things to rise before you can finally enjoy the end product. Sometimes, there just isn’t time to wait. Or sometimes, you just don’t want to wait! Enter the quick and easy peasy cinnamon roll.
From start to finish, these tasty little babies only take 40 minutes. Forty minutes. And the majority of that is baking time! No, they are not the big, fluffy, yeasty mall-like cinnamon rolls that make us drool like maniacs in front of strangers and loved ones alike, but guess what? They’re pretty darn close! Considering that they use a little baking powder and baking soda as leaveners, they are still surprisingly light and fluffy. Although similar in design to a biscuit or scone, these are a lot more “bread-y” and moist. The icing is also simpler than most cinnamon roll icings, producing more of a glaze, but a little bit goes far with this!
Before writing these off as generic wannabes, give them a chance! They’re adapted from one of my favorite cookbooks of all time and they’re wonderful. They may not win your heart over for all time, but they’ll definitely be your new best bud in a time crunch. In fact, they’re so tasty that I rarely find myself bothering with a yeast roll…unless it’s a special occasion. Finally, a homemade cinnamon roll that you don’t have to start the night before or get up at 5am to make!
To get started, brush a nine inch cake pan with a tablespoon of melted butter and set aside. We’re gonna mix up the yummy cinnamon filling first. You’ll need a little salt, ground cloves, cinnamon, melted unsalted butter, sugar, and brown sugar.
Combine all of the dry ingredients in a small bowl.
You only need a few ingredients for these, which is nice, but one of them is buttermilk, which is annoying. As I’ve said before, I never keep buttermilk on hand. Ever. An easy fix? Cultured buttermilk powder. Basically, it’s powdered buttermilk. You can find it in the baking aisle, usually near the corn starch and baking soda. It’s a very simple conversion from powder to liquid too. One tablespoon of powder per one quarter cup of water. The best part is that you can’t tell the difference between this and the “real” thing.
Back to the rolls… you need salt, baking soda, baking powder, sugar, flour, melted unsalted butter, and buttermilk. Whisk all of the dry ingredients together in a large bowl. If you’re using the powdered buttermilk, add the powder in with all of the other dry ingredients (you’ll add the water in a minute).
Whisk two tablespoons of the butter with the buttermilk (or water) and pour the mixture over the dry ingredients. Stir until everything just comes together. The dough will still be wet and lumpy, but that’s ok. Turn the dough onto a well floured surface and knead until smooth, using plenty of flour to keep it from sticking to you or your work area (this will still be pretty soft slightly sticky after kneading, so be gentle with it).
Pour all of the filling onto the dough and spread it all over, leaving an inch or so around the edges. Press the mixture down to sort of pack it on top of the dough. It will actually feel like you have too much topping, but it’s just right!
Working from the longer side, gently (it will probably slightly stuck to the counter) fold the side up to start your roll. Press the roll tightly as you go and pinch the seam together before laying the whole roll seam side down. You should have one roll, about 12 inches long. Cut this into eight rolls, laying them flat as you go. Once you have them all cut, gently press them on top to flatten them a little.
Place the rolls in your prepared cake pan, one in the center with the other seven around it. Brush the tops with the remaining melted butter and bake at 425 for 20 to 25 minutes. Don’t worry if they’re not that pretty right now, they will be when they come out of the oven.
While the rolls bake, mix up the frosting. You just need softened butter or cream cheese, confectioners’ sugar, and buttermilk. You can still use the cultured buttermilk powder here and you won’t be able to tell the difference. This is best with cream cheese in the frosting, but in a pinch, it’s still delicious with butter.
Cream the cream cheese (or butter) in a medium bowl and add the sugar and buttermilk powder, if using. Stir together a bit to get the sugar mixed with the cream cheese a little. Add the buttermilk (or water, if using the powder), and whisk until smooth.
Pour all of the icing over the rolls and let it drizzle everywhere. You can do this in the pan too, but you don’t lose very much icing this way, and it’s easier clean up. The icing melts down into all the nooks and crannies and really sweetens everything up perfectly!
These are so good. They’re sweet and soft without being too gooey or mushy. And, bonus! They’re even better the next day (or 2 days)!! Place any leftovers in an airtight container, pop in the microwave when you’re ready to have them, and they’ll be slightly soggy in such a good way, you never knew soggy could be so good!
Easy Peasy Buttermilk Cinnamon Rolls
FOR THE FILLING
3/4 cup brown sugar, packed
1/4 cup sugar
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, melted
FOR THE DOUGH
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 cups buttermilk (or 5 tablespoons cultured buttermilk powder, plus 1 1/4 cups water)
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
FOR THE ICING
2 tablespoons cream cheese or unsalted butter, softened (I prefer butter)
2 tablespoons buttermilk, or whole milk (1 1/2 teaspoons powder, plus 2 tablespoons water)
1 cup confectioners’ sugar
To make the filling: Combine all of the dry ingredients in a small bowl. Add the melted butter and stir with a fork until the mixture looks like wet sand. Set aside.
To make the dough: Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Brush a 9-inch cake pan with 1 tablespoon of melted butter.
In a medium bowl, combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt (and the buttermilk powder, if using). Add the buttermilk (or water, if using buttermilk powder) and 2 tablespoons of the butter and stir until just combined. Transfer the dough to a floured work surface and knead until the dough is smooth (it will still be very soft and a little sticky, but should be smoother and less lumpy).
Flatten the dough into a rectangle about 12 inches by 8 inches. Pour 2 tablespoons of the melted butter on and spread around with your fingers. Pour the filling over though dough and spread it evenly over the top, leaving about a 1/2 inch or so border around the outside edge. Press the filling down to sort of pack it on top of the dough.
Starting on the long side of the dough, roll the side up, pressing as you go, to create a tightly rolled log (be gentle, as this will likely stick to the counter a bit). Pinch the seam closed and lay the log seam side down. Cut into 8 even pieces, laying each one flat as you go. Gently press down on the top of each roll, then transfer them to the prepared cake pan. Brush with the remaining 2 tablespoons of melted butter. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until golden brown.
To make the icing: In a medium bowl, cream the cream cheese and add the sugar. Mix until the sugar and cream cheese start to come together a bit. Add the buttermilk and whisk well, until the mixture is smooth.
Allow the cinnamon rolls to cool in the pan for about 5 minutes, then transfer them to a wire cooling rack set over parchment paper. Pour the frosting over the cinnamon rolls. Serve these while they’re still warm.
These will keep in an airtight container for at least 3 days.
adapted from Baking Illustrated