Easy yeasted bread? Really? YES, really. These easy cinnamon rolls really are seriously easy to make. So if you haven't made your own yeasted rolls before, this is a great recipe to start with.
Let's start with why these cinnamon rolls are so soft. They're like pillows. There are two ingredients that help ensure a soft, tender bread.
- Dry milk powder
What is Tangzhong?
Tangzhong is an Asian yeast bread technique that uses a starter that's briefly cooked on the stove. It's essentially a slurry formed from water and / or milk plus flour. They're whisked together over heat until the liquid thickens. This is cooled, and then added to the bread dough.
There are several benefits:
There's a bit of science behind this, but tangzhong allows the flour in the dough to absorb more liquid, whether it be water or milk. This, in my experiences, makes a dough less sticky and therefore easier to work with.
Using the tangzhong method is what makes these rolls easy. A sticky dough can be hard to work with, from kneading to shaping, rolling, and slicing it into individual rolls.
It creates a softer yeasted bread, and helps keep the bread soft and fresh longer.
And your rolls may rise higher.
For more details, check this article out on the King Arthur Flour site.
Why Use Dry Milk When Making Bread?
Dry milk is fantastic in most any baked goods, from cookies to cakes to bread. I like King Arthur Flour's product best.
There are several benefits:
Dry milk makes any baked good more tender and helps promote a higher rise in breads. This is at least partly because liquid milk contains an enzyme that can weaken gluten and result in a poorer quality loaf. The drying process destroys this enzyme.
Dry milk boosts nutrition and flavor in the finished baked good.
It's easier to store in bulk for long lengths of time.
Key Steps for Making These Cinnamon Rolls
Step 1: Make the Tangzhong
This is a thickened slurry of flour and water and/or milk that's quickly whisked together on the stovetop.
Step 2: Combine the Tangzhong with the remaining dough ingredients
Combine all the dough ingredients until there's no flour left in the bowl. I recommend using a kitchen scale to weigh the flour. But if you don't have one, be sure to fluff the flour before gently spooning it into a measuring cup.
Step 3: Let sit for 20 minutes
This is important to allow the flour to absorb the moisture before kneading, thus reducing the stickiness of the dough.
Step 4: Knead the dough until it's smooth and elastic
I use a dough hook on a standing mixer, and takes me about 10 minutes to get a beautiful, smooth, stretchy dough.
Step 5: First rise
Lightly grease a bowl, place the dough in it, and be sure to cover with plastic.
Step 6: Divide the dough in half and roll into a rectangle
I weigh the dough to ensure I'm dividing it into 2 equal pieces. Stretch the dough first, to form a rectangle. Then apply a rolling pin to finish the job. You want to end up with a rectangle roughly 8" X 18".
Step 7: Sprinkle on the filling
This recipe uses brown sugar and cinnamon, but feel free to have some fun with this. Use cardamom or allspice in place of cinnamon. Go wild with raisins or chocolate shavings if that's your preference.
Step 8: Roll up from the longest side, cut into 12 rolls, and arrange in a baking pan
The dough is easy to work with, and rolls up very quickly and easily. I use a bench scraper with measurements marked on it, to line up my cuts so the rolls are (roughly) equally sized.
Step 9: Second rise
The rolls will become puffy and tightly squeezed together.
Step 10: Bake and glaze
Glaze while the rolls are still warm to allow the glaze to melt a little. Once they cool a bit, lightly glaze them again. Serve warm.
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Having the right equipment is another key to making these cinnamon rolls easy.
Kitchen scales - for weighing the flour
Whisk - to whisk together the tangzhong, filling, and icing
Standing mixer with a dough hook - for kneading the dough
Rolling pin - for rolling out the dough
Bench scraper - for easy measuring to cut the individual rolls
Sifter / Strainer - to remove any lumps from the confectioners' sugar
Rubber spatulas - for mixing the dough and icing the rolls
Instant Read Thermometer - for checking the temperature of the rolls when baked
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Easy Cinnamon Rolls (High Altitude Version)
- 5 tablespoons water
- 5 tablespoons whole milk
- 3 tablespoons + 1 teaspoon unbleached bread flour
Cinnamon Roll Dough
- all of the tangzhong, above
- 496 grams unbleached bread flour, 4 cups + 2 tablespoons
- 3 tablespoons non-fat dry milk
- 2 ¼ teaspoons kosher salt, or 1 ¾ teaspoons table salt
- 2 ½ teaspoons instant yeast
- ¾ cup + 2 teaspoons lukewarm whole milk
- 2 large eggs
- 7 tablespoons unsalted butter
- ¾ cup brown sugar, packed
- 4 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 1 cups confectioners' sugar, sifted
- pinch kosher salt
- 1 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
- ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 - 2 tablespoons whole milk, or enough to make the icing thick but spreadable
- Whisk together all of the tangshong ingredients in a small saucepan, until no lumps remain. Warm over medium heat, whisking until thick, 1 - 2 minutes. Remove from the heat and allow to cool.
- Pro-Tip: You'll know it's thick enough when the whisk leaves lines on the bottom of the pan.
Cinnamon Roll Dough
- Mix together the ingredients. Combine all of the dough ingredients together in the bowl of a standing mixer. (If you plan to knead the dough by hand, use any large bowl.) Using a rubber spatula, mix it together until all of the ingredients come together. There shouldn't be any loose flour left.
- Rest. Cover the dough with plastic, and let it rest on the counter for 15 - 20 minutes before kneading. This gives the flour more time to absorb the liquid, making it easier to knead.
- Knead. Remove the plastic and using a standing mixer fitted with a dough hook, knead the dough for 6 - 7 minutes on a medium speed until the dough is smooth and elastic. It will be a little sticky, but not overly.
- First rise. Lightly oil a fresh, clean bowl, and transfer the dough into it. Cover with plastic, and let sit for 60 - 90 minutes. The dough will rise over this time, but not necessarily double.
Making Cinnamon Rolls
- Shape. Lightly punch the dough down, and remove it from the bowl. Place the bowl on a kitchen scale, zero it out, and place the dough back in the bowl to weigh it. Now divide it in half. Cover ½ of the dough with the plastic wrap, and manually stretch out the other half using your fingers. Cover it with plastic, and repeat with the half dough in the bowl. Cover it with plastic.
- Roll. Remove the plastic from the first dough rectangle, and using a rolling pin, roll the dough out to roughly 8" X 18". Try to square off the corners as best you can, using the rolling pin. Cover it in plastic, and repeat with the other rectangle. Cover with plastic.
- Pro-Tip: It's important to keep the dough covered when not being worked on. Otherwise the flour in the dough creates a dry crust on the dough.
- Fill, roll up, and cut. Combine the brown sugar and cinnamon in a small bowl to make the filling. Butter a 9" X 13" baking dish. Remove the plastic from one dough rectangle, and spread ½ of the filling over the dough. Starting with the long edge, gently tuck the edge in and roll up the dough to form one long roll, 18" long. Slice the roll into 12 pieces, each 1 ½" wide. Arrange them in the baking dish. Cover with plastic, and repeat with the other dough rectangle.
- Second rise. Cover and rest for 45 - 60 minutes, or until the dough rises and is puffy. The rolls should take up all the space in the baking dish.
- Bake. While the rolls are doing their second rise, move a rack to the lower ⅓ of the oven, and preheat the oven to 350˚F. Bake the rolls for 35 - 40 minutes, or until the internal temperature reaches 190˚F. I use an instant thermometer to test this.
- Ice. Whisk together all of the ingredients for the icing, being sure to sift the confectioners' sugar. All lumps must be removed to get a smooth icing. When the rolls are done, run a sharp knife around the edges, and slight lift from the baking dish. Flip out onto a cooling tray, and turn over. Lightly ice each roll using a small rubber spatula. After 10 minutes of cooling, lightly ice each roll again.
- Serve. To serve, use a sharp knife to separate each individual roll. You may need to slice through the dough. Serve warm.
- Increase the Instant Yeast to 1 tablespoon.
- Reduce the lukewarm milk from ¾ cup + 2 teaspoons to ¾ cup of lukewarm milk.
- Reduce the butter from 7 tablespoons to 6 tablespoons.
This month, I'm posting with friends in a Facebook Baking Group, and this month's theme was to make any bread using tangzhong. If you're interested in more ideas of how to use this fabulous technique, check out the below links.
- Easy Cinnamon Rolls from The Wimpy Vegetarian
- Eggless Nasturtium Greens Sandwich Bread (Tangzhong Method) from Cook with Renu
- Japanese Chocolate Milk Bread from Passion Kneaded
- Japanese Milk Bread Buns from Ambrosia
- Japanese Milk Bread Rolls from A Day in the Life on the Farm
- Pineapple Buns (Bolo Bao) from Karen's Kitchen Stories
- Sourdough Pumpkin Babka from Zesty South Indian Kitchen
- Tangzhong Kolaches from A Messy Kitchen
- Tangzhong Loaf With Cinnamon Sugar Topping from Sneha's Recipe
- Tangzhong Pumpkin Cinnamon Buns from Magical Ingredients
- Tangzhong Sourdough Bread from Food Lust People Love
#BreadBakers is a group of bread loving bakers who get together once a month to bake bread with a common ingredient or theme. Follow our Pinterest board right here. Links are also updated each month on this home page.
We take turns hosting each month and choosing the theme/ingredient.