Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Croissant Cinnamon Rolls

Croissant Cinnamon Roll
You can see the flaky layers better before it's frosted.
I've made soooo many cinnamon rolls since I started baking competitively, that I really can't eat them any more. I mean, I can't eat the traditional cinnamon rolls. I can't even tell if they taste good, and the last couple I tried to eat, I couldn't even finish the one bite I took, because it made me feel queasy just to taste them. 
These, though, made with croissant dough are different. They're crisp on the outside, buttery flaky, and don't really resemble a regular cinnamon roll at all, except for the cinnamon swirl. These are so decadent, and so fancy, that I don't make them very often. That's why it's taken me so long to blog about them.
Actually, this batch is half of the batch of White Chocolate Macadamia Nut Cinnamon Rolls I made in honor/protest of the 2012 Iowa State Fair Cinnamon Roll Competition. See that post if you want to read a very long story of my cinnamon roll competition ups and downs.
Suffice it to say here, that if you're up for making croissant dough, you might want to try these. Honestly, I've made croissant dough enough that it's really not that difficult, just time consuming with the cleanup. I need lots of space to make these, which means I have to clear off my normally messy counter. I should probably make these more often, just as a reason to clean off the counter. 

Croissant Cinnamon Rolls
  • ¾ cup light brown sugar
  • 1/2 tablespoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 tsp salt
Egg Wash
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 2-3 tablespoons milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
The Dough
1.  Whisk 3 cups flour together with the yeast, sugar, and salt in a medium bowl.  Place the milk in the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the dough hook.  Add the flour mixture and kneed at low speed until a ball of dough forms.  Cut the 2 tablespoons butter into small pieces and add to the dough.  Continue to knead until the butter becomes fully incorporated and the dough becomes smooth, begins to form a ball, and clears the sides of the bowl.  Add up to ¼ cup more flour, one tablespoon at a time if the dough is too sticky.  Place dough in a bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for one hour.
2. Place the 2 ½ sticks of butter and 1 tablespoon flour into the bowl of a standing mixer with the paddle attachment.  Beat until butter is uniformly smooth and creamy. 
3. Turn dough out onto a floured work surface.  Roll dough into 10 x 14-inch rectangle.  Spread butter evenly over the bottom 2/3 of the rectangle.  Fold unbuttered third onto the middle third.  Brush away excess flour with a clean pastry brush. Then fold that onto the bottom third.  Seal edges with side of your hand.
4.  Using a rolling pin, gently whack the dough, starting at the center of the dough and go outward.  Then gently roll the dough into about a 7 x 12-inch rectangle, and fold into thirds again.  Make sure that the butter doesn’t break through.  IF it does, sprinkle with flour.  Fold the square into thirds to form a long rectangle, brushing away excess flour as you fold.  Wrap in wax paper and then place in an unsealed gallon size plastic bag. Refrigerate for about 30-45 minutes.
5.  Remove dough from refrigerator and remove from bag/wrap, and on a floured surface, gently whack and roll into a 10 x 14-inch rectangle.  As in step four, fold dough into thirds and then fold one last time so you have a square again.  Wrap and refrigerate again for 2 hours to overnight.

Forming  & Baking the Rolls                                                             
6. Mix the brown sugar, cinnamon and salt with a fork and set aside.
7.  Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
8. Remove dough from refrigerator and roll into a rough 16” x 16” rectangle about ¼” thick. Evenly spread the brown sugar/cinnamon mixture over the surface of the rectangle, leaving about 1 inch clear at one end. Gently press sugar down with the flat palm of your hand. Starting at the edge opposite the unsugared edge, roll the dough into a log.  Gently pinch the seam to seal.
9.  With a very sharp knife, trip off ends.  Cut log into 12 equal pieces. (Actually, I like to cut off about an inch from each end before cutting my 12 pieces, so that I get evenly sized rolls in the end. Then, you end up with two little extras for tasting.) Place cut rolls on the baking sheet, at least three inches apart. Let rise for 45 minutes, or until rolls are puffed and leave an indentation when gently poked on the side with a finger.
10.  Preheat oven to 400°.  Place one pan in refrigerator until the other is done baking.  Whisk egg wash ingredients in a small bowl and brush each roll with it, on the sides and top.  Bake for 13-15 minutes, until a deep golden brown color all over.
11.  Remove pan from the oven and let cool for 5 minutes.  Slide parchment with rolls onto wire rack to cool.  Allow to cool at least 10-15 minutes before frosting.  Repeat with other pan.
12.  Whisk glaze ingredients together in a small bowl until smooth. Drizzle over warm, not hot, cinnamon rolls.

Makes 12 cinnamon rolls


  1. these look bakery worthy! seriously, gorgeous job!!

  2. these look perfect!...i buy one of these (yours look even better) every time i see one at Bristol Farms and they are $2.29 ! EACH...fabulous job...but now i might have to make them myself...?!

    1. I was just at Bristol Farms recently, and they have some awesome looking pastries! Thanks for the comparison. :) I think you SHOULD make these and freeze them unfrosted. Defrost them for 10-15 minutes in a 300 degree oven and whip up a little frosting. Way less expensive than the alternative. :)

  3. When you are folding the dough, did you butter between each fold? I am a bit confused how you did steps 3 and 4.

    1. You only need to butter the dough rectangle once, 2/3 of it. Once you start folding, the layers of butter are created by the folding and rolling out process. As the dough gets rolled out for each turn, the butter between the layers of dough get rolled out thin as well. It's offically called "laminating," and it's used in most flaky, layery dough recipes. Did I explain that well enough? This youtube video sort of shows what's going on with the laminating. I don't use the standard method of making a square/rectangle of butter because it's too much work, but the folding and rolling procedure is the same:

  4. Hi there - these look delicious! How big is the finished product? 3 c of flour makes it seem like they might be on the larger side, but I wanted to make sure. Thank you so much!

    1. Hello there, Jessica! These are about 5 inches in diameter and about 3/4 to 1 inch in height. I have to say, though, that sometimes these will rise higher and be smaller in diameter, and other times the spread a little more and are flatter. I'm sure I do something different to them every time, but I haven't made them in a long time.

  5. Hi there, I came across this post looking for flakey cinnamon rolls and these are exactly what I'm looking for! Was wondering if I need to make the dough a couple of days prior, should I freeze it or will it keep just in the fridge? Thanks :)

    1. I've never tried making the dough a couple of days ahead, but I would freeze it if I had to because the yeast will keep fermenting in the refrigerator and give it an off flavor and texture, I think.

  6. Making these today, but would like them fresh in the morning..can I make these, not let them rise, refrigerate and get them out first thing in the morning to rise before baking???

    1. One year's my reply (sorry): I think this plan would work great. Please let me know if you tried it. :)

  7. Hi. These are amazing. Can you advise at what stage I can freeze the dough so I can bake at a later date?

    1. One year later... Sorry about the delay in a reply. Life. What can I say? Did you ever try freezing the dough? I've never tried to freeze the dough, but I would maybe try freezing the rolls after they are cut and then let then thaw in the fridge on a pan overnight and then let them rise at a reasonable room temperature until puffed. Let me know if you try it and what happens.


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