These cinnamon rolls are a mouth-full in more ways than one (ba-dum-ch)! Alright, alright—kidding aside—cinnamon rolls have long been one of my favorite cooking projects. For years, I was loyal to Ree Drummond’s recipe, but that’s all in the past after I succeeded in my version of unbelievably soft buns (seriously, how can something that’s sourdough and half-wheat be this delightfully squishy?). My recipe is a heavily modified combo of Basically’s Cinnamon-Date Sticky Buns and King Arthur’s Sourdough Cinnamon Buns.
If you’re like me, the first thing you’re wondering before you even consider baking: “yeah but like… how long is it going to take?” Well, here’s my approximate breakdown: this recipe takes about 30 minutes of initial active time + 2 hours of mostly-passive time + 6 to 24 hours of totally passive time, then a short burst of around 20 more minutes active time before baking. I can’t tell you how long it will take you to gather ingredients in your own kitchen, find your rolling pin/wine bottle, etc. but it’s probably going to be around an hour of actual work (I promise, it’s v worth it) and minimum 10 total hours between start and finish. My recommendation: Make this in the afternoon, chill overnight, then finish it in the morning for breakfast. Perfect for when you have overnight guests or for holiday mornings.
Sourdough Cinnamon Rolls with Orange Vanilla Glaze
Recipe Inspiration: Basically’s Cinnamon-Date Sticky Buns
Makes 8 cinnamon rolls
- 1/2 cup buttermilk or plain yogurt
- 6 Tbsp. vegetable oil
- 100 grams sourdough discard*
- 50 grams brown sugar
- 1 large egg, lightly beaten
- 2 tsp. active dry yeast
- 1 tsp. kosher salt
- 1/4 tsp. baking soda
- 200 grams all-purpose flour
- 150 grams whole wheat flour
- 6 Tbsp. butter, softened
- 1/3 cup brown sugar
- 2 tsp. ground cinnamon
- 1 cup powdered sugar
- 2 Tbsp. orange juice (or milk, for a milder flavor)
- 1 Tbsp. orange zest (from about 1/2 of the orange)
- 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract or 1/4 tsp. vanilla bean paste
- In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine buttermilk, vegetable oil, sourdough starter, brown sugar, egg, yeast, salt, and baking soda. Mix on medium speed with the bread hook until relatively homogeneous, about 1 minute (break up remaining clumps of brown sugar/yeast/starter with your fingers if needed).
- Add flours and mix on medium speed until fully combined into a tacky dough, about 2 minutes. Alternatively, mix by hand or with a wooden spoon in a large bowl until well combined.
- Scrape bowl to incorporate any tough bits of dough stuck to the side into the main dough mass. Cover bowl with plastic wrap or a lightly damp clean kitchen towel.
- Let dough rest at room temperature for 30 minutes. After the half-hour, fold it several times over itself in the bowl. If you’ve never done this before—don’t overthink it. We aren’t really “kneading” here. Just imagine that you’re bringing all the dough that’s sitting at the bottom of the bowl to the top, in 6 or so big stretchy folds. Repeat resting-and-folding process 3 more times, resulting in a total of 2 resting hours and 4 folding sessions. The dough will magically become less sticky and more elastic with each folding round (this is because the wheat flour fully hydrates and the gluten develops).
- Chill dough in the refrigerator, covered, for at least 6 hours but up to 1 day.
- Mix softened butter, brown sugar, and cinnamon together until combined. Set aside until ready to use.
- Turn chilled dough out onto a lightly oiled surface and roll into a 16×12-inch rectangle (if necessary, lightly oil your rolling pin to avoid the dough sticking).
- Spread cinnamon butter evenly over the whole rectangle, then roll it tightly into a 16-inch log.
- Slice log into 8 rolls and place them into a 12-inch cast-iron skillet or 13×9 pan. You can also use basically any other medium/large baking dish. The rolls will almost double while baking, so use whatever will give them an inch or so of space on all sides. Cover pan and let rise until rolls look and feel puffed, about 30 minutes (they will not rise much in this time).
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Once preheated, bake rolls until deeply golden brown on top, about 25 to 35 minutes.
- Combine powdered sugar, orange juice or milk, orange zest, and vanilla to create an icing.
- Let cinnamon rolls cool for 10 to 15 minutes, then pour glaze evenly over cinnamon rolls. The rolls are best when enjoyed warm and fresh. Store leftovers covered tightly at room temperature, and warm before serving.
- *I keep my sourdough starter at around 100% hydration, so adjust your liquid/flour minimally as needed for a starter that resembles thick pancake batter.
- **I like the childhood nostalgia of an orangey Pillsbury pop-canister cinnamon roll, but you have options with your icing. For a classic vanilla glaze, omit the zest and use milk. For maple icing (my second fave), use milk and substitute 1/4 tsp. maple extract for zest. For coffee icing, use coffee or espresso instead of juice/milk and omit zest.