Sourdough Cinnamon Rolls

Jan 12, 2019

I began last year by giving up sugar for a month… and I begin this year with a very indulgent cinnamon roll recipe. Forward progress? Irony? Who cares, because these cinnamon rolls are legit delicious.

Seriously though, I do want to pause and acknowledge the fact that it is the beginning of a new year, and I’m sure your lives – whether digital or physical – are saturated with people talking about their big plans and intentions for the new year.

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The thing is, for me, 2018 was one hell of a year. I set quite a few goals for myself at the outset of it, and I think actually accomplished almost all of them. I worked to fix my posture so I wouldn’t look like a bum in all our wedding photos and gained about 10 lbs of muscle in the process. I took a more hands-on approach with my personal finances & budget and didn’t freak out once a quarter about where all my money went. We got married, which was obviously a success, but I pretty much overdosed in organization. And at work I endured three re-orgs and an equal amount of managers, and still managed to convince everyone I deserved a promotion. I tried and was not as successful at “fixing” my acne, but I did do a ton of research.

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I say all this not to brag, but to point out that by the end of the year, I didn’t feel like I was crushing it. Yes, I accomplished a lot. But by the end of the year I feel like I was the one that had been crushed. By a very large and fast train. Maybe we call that burnout? And it turns out one week in Mexico — as perfect as it was — was not enough to undo a years’ worth of stress.

So in 2019, I’m ready to… chill the eff out, relax, and give myself some slack. Sure, I’m not just going to sit around and do nothing, but I have no desire to be all gung-ho crazy about setting and achieving goals right now. And since Jan 1 is an arbitrary date anyway, I’m planning on just continuing life as normal — with maybe a few more couch cuddles and a few less workouts (ha. maybe).

And a few more cinnamon rolls?

Ok, enough about my New Year’s Apathy, let’s get to the more important bit: these beauties.

I’ve got another low FODMAP cinnamon roll recipe on the blog already, but forget those. THESE are where it’s at. That recipe was made with gluten-free flours, plus a little vital wheat gluten to hold them together. Although adding gluten back in helped hold the dough together so it wasn’t a crumbly mess, they still didn’t have that magical, stretchy-fluffy quality about them that can only be achieved with wheat flour.

You see, that was before I knew I could eat sourdough (< read for why)! And now that we have our own sourdough starter, I’ve been having tons of fun trying out new recipes and actually using WHEAT flour again. Sorry, gluten free flours, but it’s just so much easier to work with. And so one day during our Christmas vacation, I found myself with nothing better to do than make some sourdough cinnamon rolls.
Like I mentioned in my last post, the instructions we followed to get our starter up and running (bubbling?), as well as all the recipes I’ve used since then have been from The Perfect Loaf. And so far, Maurizio has not let me down. Yes, making something with a sourdough starter is more intense and takes longer than making something with standard active dry yeast, but all you have to do is do exactly what Maurizio says and you’ll get amazing results. Promise!

Maybe the idea of sourdough cinnamon rolls sounds odd, but I promise you they don’t taste sour in the least and you’d seriously never know! Marc, who grew up eating his grandma’s homemade cinnamon rolls, gave them a “these are the best cinnamon rolls I’ve had in awhile.” The filling oozes out as they rise and bake, creating a caramelized cinnamon-y crust on the bottom, and they get lightly toasted on the top while staying soft and chewy on the inside. And flaky! As they should be, as there’s almost an entire stick butter in just six rolls 😂

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Confused about all this talk of sourdough? Read all about sourdough and why it’s low FODMAP.

So listen. Maybe you too are feeling beaten down by 2018, or overwhelmed by 2019. I can’t promise these cinnamon rolls will fix all your problems, but the act of taking the time to lovingly labor over this dough might just be the comfort you need. These guys won’t give you a six pack and definitely don’t fit in any sort of New Year’s diet, but that’s all overrated anyway. Cinnamon rolls on the other hand, are not.

Timing

The timeline is super flexible, and I include the length of each step in the instructions below. Feel free to adjust, but this is what I usually do.

Day 1

Mix — 30 min (9:00)

Bulk fermentation — 2 hr (9:30-11:30)

Chill — 3-4 hr (11:30-2:30 pm)

Shape & make filling — 30 min (2:30)

Proof — 2-5hr (3:00-8:00)

Chill — overnight (8:00 pm)

Day 2

Preheat oven — 40 min

Bake — 40-50 min

Sourdough Cinnamon Rolls

Yield | 6 rolls
Notes
Recipe adapted from The Perfect Loaf
 
Starter: I suggest you create your starter following these directions, and maintain it following these. You want your starter to be at its peak when you use it for this recipe — just take the amount needed for the pizza dough, and then feed it like you would normally. If your starter is at its peak before you need to use it, you can make an intermediate build that will be ready in a few hours. I usually do this and add 50g water at 90°F, 50g flour (25g white and 25g whole wheat), and 50g starter to a separate jar. Mine is usually ready in about 2-3 hours.
 
We don’t have a KitchenAid or any sort of stand mixer, so we mixed the butter in by hand/spoon. I wouldn’t recommend it, but it did work in a pinch.

Ingredients

Dough

  • 95.5 grams butter (about 1 stick minus 1 tbl)
  • 95.5 grams eggs (about 2 large)
  • 66.5 grams lactose-free 1% milk (can use 2% or whole milk as well)
  • 24 grams sugar
  • 100 grams mature sourdough starter (see notes)
  • 238.5 grams white all-purpose or bread flour
  • 5.5 grams salt

Brown sugar filling mixture

  • 107 grams brown sugar
  • 20 grams oat flour
  • 1 tablespoon butter melted
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • teaspoon salt

Maple glaze

  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • ½ cup powdered sugar
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla
  • ½ tablespoon maple syrup (1 ½ teaspoons)
  • ½-1 tablespoon water (to consistency)

Directions

Mix the dough (30 mins)

  • Remove butter from fridge and cut into squares (this just helps it soften faster). Place on a bowl or plate to warm up to room temperature while you prepare the rest of the dough.
  • Whisk the liquid ingredients (eggs, milk, sugar, and sourdough starter) in a medium bowl. Combine dry ingredients (flour & salt) in the bowl of a stand mixer (or just a large bowl if you don't have a mixer). Turn the mixer on low and slowly add the liquid ingredients, waiting for a bit to get incorporated before adding more. Keep going for about 3 minutes. The dough will look very wet and have some clumps still.
  • Let the dough rest for 10 minutes.
  • After 10 minutes, turn the mixer to medium speed and mix for about 5 minutes until the dough starts to come together and the clumps disappear. The dough should start to pull away from the sides (but still stick to the bottom). If it still seems wet and doesn't want to come together, add a tiny bit of flour at a time until it does.
  • At this point, the butter should be soft but still cool to touch. If it's still very hard, microwave for 5-10 seconds at a time until it softens a bit. Likewise, if it's warm and close to melting, put it in the freezer for a few minutes until it cools off.
  • With the mixer on medium, add the butter one square at a time. Wait until the butter is entirely incorporated until you add the next square (this works best if you add it close to the mixing hook). This part is really annoying if you don't have a mixer; my advice is to get the butter on the warmer side and to mix with your hands as opposed to a spoon.

Bulk fermentation (2 hrs)

  • Transfer the dough to a clean bowl, cover with a cloth, and let sit at room temperature for 2 hours. Perform 4 sets of "stretch and folds" every 30 minutes.

Chill dough (3-4 hrs)

  • Cover your bowl in plastic wrap and place in the fridge for at least 2 hours (I did 4). You could even refrigerate overnight — the most important thing is that the dough is chilled before you roll it out.

Shape & make filling (30 mins)

  • For the filling: Mix or whisk everything together in a bowl until no clumps remain. Keep covered until you are ready to use so the brown sugar doesn't dry out.
  • To shape: Remove chilled dough out of refrigerator and dump onto floured counter. Sprinkle flour on the top of the dough and on your rolling pin. Roll the dough into a rectangle (mine was around 7"x12"), with the long side closest to your body. Sprinkle the filling mixture evenly over the dough, leaving a margin along the top edge bare (this will help seal the rolls).
  • Starting at the bottom (long end nearest you), begin to roll up the dough. It's important to roll the dough very tightly, so work your way from left to right rolling one revolution at a time.
  • Once the dough is completely rolled up, turn it so the seam is on the bottom (it helps to pick half the log up at a time and slide some flour under there). Lay a ruler alongside the dough — you'll be cutting it about every 1 ¾." Take a piece of dental floss (I use mint flavored and no it doesn't make the rolls taste minty!) and work it under the dough to the point you want to cut. Take and end of the floss on either side and cross them over the top of the dough, pulling until it slices through the entire log. I also usually cut off the very ends to get even sizes on all the rolls.
  • Transfer the rolls to a walled baking pan (I use a pie plate), leaving some space between them.

Proof (2-5 hrs)

  • Cover the rolls and place somewhere warm (I use our water heater closet) to proof. This should be for at least 2 hours and up to 5 (I do 5). The rolls should start to relax and puff up a bit, and some of the filling may leak out — this is all fine.
  • After your proof, you can place the rolls in the fridge overnight to bake the next morning (what I do), or continue on.

Preheat oven (30 mins) and bake (50 mins)

  • 30 minutes before you plan to bake the rolls, preheat the oven to 350°F (this allows the oven temperature to stabilize) and remove the rolls from the refrigerator if that's where they are.
  • Bake the rolls for 40-50 minutes, or until they're browned on top.
  • Make the glaze: While rolls are baking, melt butter in a small bowl. Add powdered sugar and vanilla – it will be thick and sticky. Stir in maple syrup. Add water until desired consistency is reached.
  • Once rolls are done, remove from oven and allow to cool a bit. While still slightly warm, spread glaze (microwave for a few seconds if it's too hard to spread) over the rolls. Best served warm with a bit of peanut butter if you're into that type of thing. Enjoy!

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