Fear and Cinnamon Rolls


Okay everyone, let’s start tackling some of our kitchen fears. A while back I asked you to share some information with me in the form of the Lottie + Doof Food Quiz (If you haven’t already completed the quiz, go for it!). One of the kitchen fears that came up most often was YEAST. I think there is a general misconception that working with yeast is difficult and I know many of you automatically dismiss recipes if they contain the words “let rise”. I used to be one of you! The truth is that yeast doughs are as easy as any other and just require a little extra time and patience.


It is time to get over your aversion of recipes requiring kneading and rising. This recipe for cinnamon rolls is the perfect place to start. The recipe is easy to follow and each step works as the recipe says it will.


Your reward for tackling your fears will be a pan of superb cinnamon rolls topped with a tangy and sweet cream cheese glaze. As you enjoy one, still warm from the oven, you will wonder what all of the fuss was all about. And hopefully, you’ll start trying all sorts of new breads and pastries.


Cinnamon Rolls (from Molly Wizenberg of Orangette)


  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 3 1/2 cups (or more) unbleached all purpose flour, divided
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 1/4 teaspoons rapid-rise or instant yeast (from 1 envelope yeast)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • Nonstick vegetable oil spray


  • 3/4 cup (packed) golden brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature


  • 4 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Combine milk and butter in glass measuring cup. Microwave on high until butter melts and mixture is just warmed to 120°F to 130°F, about 30 to 45 seconds. Pour into bowl of stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment. Add 1 cup flour, sugar, egg, yeast, and salt. Beat on low speed 3 minutes, stopping occasionally to scrape down sides of bowl. Add additional 2 1/2 cups flour. Beat on low until flour is absorbed and dough is sticky, scraping down sides of bowl. If dough is very sticky, add more flour by tablespoonfuls until dough begins to form ball and pulls away from sides of bowl. Turn dough out onto lightly floured work surface. Knead until smooth and elastic, adding more flour if sticky, about 8 minutes.  Form into ball.

Lightly oil large bowl with nonstick spray. Transfer dough to bowl, turning to coat. Cover bowl with plastic wrap, then kitchen towel. Let dough rise in warm draft-free area until doubled in volume, about 2 hours.

Mix brown sugar, cinnamon and pinch of salt in medium bowl.

Press down dough. Transfer to floured work surface. Roll out to 15×11-inch rectangle. Spread softened butter over dough, leaving 1/2-inch border. Sprinkle cinnamon mixture evenly over butter. Starting at the longer side, roll dough into log, pinching gently to keep it rolled up. With seam side down, trim ends straight if they are uneven and cut remaining dough crosswise with thin sharp knife into 18 equal slices.

Spray two 9-inch square glass baking dishes with nonstick spray (I used an 8-inch square and a 9-inch round- use whatever you have). Divide rolls between baking dishes, arranging cut side up. Cover baking dishes with plastic wrap, then kitchen towel. Let dough rise in warm draft-free area until almost doubled in volume, 40 to 45 minutes, or even longer.

Position rack in center of oven and preheat to 375°F. Bake rolls until tops are golden, about 20 minutes. Remove from oven and invert immediately onto rack. Cool 10 minutes. Turn rolls right side up.

Combine cream cheese, powdered sugar, butter, and vanilla in medium bowl. Using electric mixer, beat until smooth. Spread glaze on rolls. Serve warm or at room temperature.

***These are best served the day they are made, but honestly I was happy with them the next day too.


19 comments to “Fear and Cinnamon Rolls”

  1. I think I may have posted that I was afraid of yeast, but that has since been revoked. What I am afraid of, okay maybe not afraid of, what I dislike is that waiting time! Im just so darn impatient! Not that that;s your fault, but I just cant wait that long.

    These cinnamon buns look amazing though! Perhaps I shall try my hand at them….

  2. You are so right! In my mind yeast = fear. I so needed to read this as I would love to bake my own bread and things with yeast…pizza bases for example! Cinnamon rolls are SO delicious looking…thanks for the nudge!

  3. I love the side-by-side photos showing the rise. I used to be afraid of yeast just because I didn’t know the difference between “active dry yeast” and “instant yeast” etc but now that I do, I love working with yeast!

    Lovely cinnamon rolls. Gotta love Molly!

  4. When should you start making the dough for cinnamon rolls? Or can you do some of the work the night before? I would love to have homemade cinnamon rolls around 11 am on a weekend morning, but it kind of defeats the purpose to get up early for 2 rises. Unless someone else is making them for you, of course….

  5. We’ve only made 5 loaves of yeast risen bread in our time, and each one was a learning process. Now we think we’ve got it! Those rolls look really good too. That’s the next yeast recipe we should try.

  6. Hi Lindsay: You can put the dough in the fridge before either rise to put the process on pause. I would get the rolls assembled and in pan the night before. When you wake up, let them rise in a warm spot until doubled in size and proceed with baking!

  7. I had a complete and utter fail at my first cinnamon roll attempt – pure concrete mess that they were, but I’m totally up for trying these again and face my fear of yeast.

  8. Amazing! I love the golden brown photo of the rolls before the glaze! I agree with the intimidation factor of yeast, but when it works, a yeast dough is a beautiful thing, as these rolls demonstrate!

  9. is it bad that I mostly want to make this recipe so I can have all the tangy icing to myself?

  10. Dawn in CA says:

    June 18th, 2009 at 10:26 am

    The first time I tackled homemade cinnamon rolls, my husband’s first bite literally put him into a stupor. He sat at the table with his eyes closed, slowly chewing and making low, happy groaning noises. I’m no slouch in the kitchen, but had I known something I baked could elicit such a joyous response, I would have made these years ago!

  11. I got over this “fear” a couple years ago thanks to instant yeast. It’s so much easier to use and, i’ve read, more reliable. I recently took a bread making class at the French Culinary Institute here in NYC and it’s amazing to me the amount of work and time that went into making bread before all this new equipment (mixers especially). It’s truly an art to make yeast breads.

  12. Kellie Moncrief says:

    June 25th, 2009 at 11:18 pm

    I am making cinnamon rolls right now and I am waiting for my yeast to double in size. I forgot the egg part so I went back and added it in. I have my fingers crossed, but I am not getting my hopes up. This posting was inspiring though :)

  13. I agree wholeheartedly with this post. Yeast is not a big deal at all. From the very first time I’ve used yeast to the last, I have had no problems. I have made many a cinnamon rolls, too. Yours look yummy!!!

  14. yes, i also had a yeast bread recipe phobia, so i tried a simple foccacia recipe that didn’t require special pans or perfect loaf shapes. i was so thrilled, that i made it every week for a month…worked as a breakfast bread, “pizza” building base, and soup accompaniment.

  15. Yes, Virginia! Foccacia is another good idea for beginners! It is great when we conquer these fears and really expand what we are capable of in the kitchen.

  16. I just made these and they turned out perfect!

  17. I just finally got around to sort of making these this morning for brunch. The dough didn’t want to rise for me though so I water proofed it and puffed up pretty nicely and was silky smooth. I added in pecans to the filling and subbed the cream cheese frosting for a lightly salted caramel sauce with pecans. What a hit!

  18. i assembled these last night and stuck them in the fridge, and when i woke up i took them out along with the cream cheese glaze and let them rise for an hour or so and then baked them. i followed everything exactly and am super pleased with the results- they were delicious! and i ended up inviting friends over to share the decadent brunch!
    fabulous; will definitely be making these again soon! im off to try doughnut muffins next!

  19. Great, Alanna. I am so glad you liked them too!

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