Cinnamon Rolls

Unbaked Cinnamon Rolls

These were meant to be caramel rolls. I’ve even written them into my recipe moleskin as such. But I changed my mind. I thought they looked good enough without the extra gooey layer of brown sugar and butter on the bottom. Oh, and I ran out of butter, so that clinched it.

They were also meant to have raisins, but we were out of those too.

This wasn’t really a planned baking session, you see. And I thought it make take several test bakes to get it right. The Old Joy doesn’t always give specifics. For instance, in this recipe there are no quantities given for the filling ingredients. And so I thought I’d have to play around. But I didn’t.

We ate them warm from the oven and they were so good that when I finished my first one I didn’t even pause, I got straight up to get a second.

I recommend them fresh from the oven. Warmth & cinnamony-ness just go together. However, I packed three for our trip to the zoo the next day and we enjoyed them at a picnic bench. Well, at several picnic benches actually. After sitting down to eat them at one, every time we saw another picnic bench my toddler asked to eat more ‘roll.’ At least she hadn’t eaten all of hers at the first stop, like I did.

Cinnamon Roll

Cinnamon Rolls
adapted from the 1931 Joy of Cooking
makes 12-16 rolls

I used Penzey’s Extra Fancy Vietnamese Cinnamon. This is the best cinnamon I’ve come across (I always test by smell). As the star ingredient in this recipe, use the best smelling stuff you can find.

For the dough:
1 C  milk
1 Tbs  sugar
1 oz.  unsalted butter (= 2 Tbs)
1/2 tsp  salt
1/2 oz.  dried yeast (not fast acting)
2 & 1/2 C  bread flour


Heat the milk to scald it. (Bring it almost to the boiling point. You should see some steam rising.)

In a large bowl put the butter, sugar & salt. Pour the scalded milk into the bowl and whisk to combine. Let the mixture cool until its warm to your finger (like bath water temperature).

Pour in the dried yeast and let sit for a few minutes (you should see the yeast bubbling, as pictured below).

Yeast Bubbling

Whisk everything together.

Add 2 C of the bread flour and mix with a wooden spoon. Add the final 1/2 C of flour and knead it in with your hands. (Pull the dough from the outside edge to the centre, again and again.)

Cover the bowl with a clean cloth and let rest for about 3 hours. It will have doubled in size.

Now prepare the filling:

2 oz.  unsalted butter
1/3 C  walnuts
1/3 C  pistachios (unsalted)
1/3 C  brown sugar (muscavado), lightly packed
1/8 tsp  lemon zest
1 tsp  cinnamon

Melt the butter.

Measure out the sugar.

Finely chop the nuts and combine them with the cinnamon, and lemon zest in a small bowl.

To make the cinnamon rolls:

Punch the dough down and remove it from bowl without kneading it. Flatten it a bit on a clean, lightly floured surface and then roll it with a rolling pin to 1/4 inch thick. Ideally you want it to be rectangular but as you can see mine wasn’t and it was still fine.

Brush the melted butter over the dough. Sprinkle the sugar on top. Then sprinkle the nut mixture on top. I left a gap at the edges but I didn’t need to. Next time I will go right to the edge with the filling.


Roll the dough into a log and cut the rolls approximately 1 inch thick with a pastry scraper or knife. Place them next to each other but not tightly packed together on a baking sheet.

Let rest for 5-10 minutes to rise again slightly (if your patience is failing you just bake them!) and bake at 220C/450F for 12 – 15 minutes. They will be puffy and slightly golden at the top when ready.


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