Category Archives: Food

Cinnamon Rolls

Yesterday, I felt the restless desire to make something. Usually, that means bookbinding, but yesterday, it had to be food. So I finally got round to beginning something I’ve been meaning to do for some time: learning to make really good cinnamon rolls. For convenience, I want to be able to make part-baked frozen cinnamon rolls.


I blame Robin McKinley, one of my favourite authors. One of her recent books, Sunshine, is about a magician and vampire slayer who also bakes in a cafe. Or, more properly, it’s about a baker in a cafe who discovers she can also do magic and slay vampires, though she’d prefer to just bake. And McKinley expresses her passion for baking so well that when I read the book, I want to do so too.

Now, when I was a child, I had free run of the kitchen as long as I would clean up after myself. I spent a good deal of time perfecting chocolate cake recipe. I haven’t done that kind of evolutionary cookery since, but I firmly believe that no recipe I find in a book is perfect. So I have chosen a very basic cinnamon roll recipe from a book I trust, and I intend to refine it until it’s perfect. My family are just going to have to put up with the collateral effects of this experimentation, namely having cinnamon rolls around from time to time. They’re very brave. They will cope.

The base recipe is from Betty Crocker’s New Picture Cookbook (1961), which was my maternal grandmother’s reference cookbook. I don’t have her copy, having long since damaged it beyond repair with my cake-making, but my mother kindly gave me another copy a few years ago. It’s very good on cakes, cookies and yeast breads, but tastes have changed since 1961, so it does occasionally need a little refining.

The basic recipe, with initial changes. I will convert it to metric/weight-based cookery at a later stage. Additions and changes in bold.


  • 1/4 cup warm water
  • 1 pkg yeast
  • 3/4 cup lukewarm milk (scalded and cooled to reduce dough stickiness)
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 cup oil
  • approximately 4 cups flour (I never measure flour for bread. You add it till it’s dough, then knead into more flour till it’s kneaded.)


  • 2 Tbsp soft butter
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 3/4 cup raisins

Dissolve the yeast in the water. Add milk, sugar, salt, egg, oil and 2 cups flour. Mix until smooth. Add enough flour to turn it into dough, then turn onto a lightly floured board and knead till smooth and elastic (about 5 min).

Round up in a greased bowl, then turn to bring greased side up. Leave to rise in a wam place until double, about 1 1/2 hour.

Punch down, and leave to rise again until almost doubled, about 30 min.

Roll out into an oblong, 15 x 9″. Spread with softened butter. Mix cinnamon and sugar together and sprinkle over the surface. Sprinkle raisins on top.

Roll up tightly, beginning at the wide side. Seal well by pinching edges of roll together.

Cut roll into 1″ slices. Place on greased trays to rise for another 35 to 40 minutes, until doubled.

Heat oven to 375 F (195 C). Bake 15 – 20 min for part baked rolls, 25 – 30 min for done rolls.

Freeze part baked rolls in plastic bags. When you want a fresh cinnamon roll, heat the oven and bake for 10 – 15 minutes from frozen.

So how did it come out?

  1. The dough could use to be sweeter. Next time, I think I will use 1/3 cup sugar.
  2. The raisins would work better spread throughout the rolls rather than simply in the spirals. I will knead them in before rolling the dough out.
  3. Martin suggests rolling the dough into a thinner layer, making more turns of cinnamon per roll. I think this is a good idea, though it may increase the butter, sugar and cinnamon required for spreading on the rolled-out layer.

Further updates after the dozen cinnamon rolls in the freezer are disposed of.