Monday, September 03, 2012

Ultimate Overnight Cinnamon Rolls

In celebration of the kids' last day of summer break from school, I decided to make a big batch of cinnamon rolls for breakfast on this fine Labor Day morning.

Okay.  So, maybe the rolls weren't so much in honor of the kids going back to school.  Maybe making them was my own (subconscious) attempt to console myself as I face sending the last of our five children off to kindergarten tomorrow. 

Nothing says drown yourself in sorrow and pity like a big pan of warm, gooey, icing-laden cinnamon rolls, right?

(Don't judge me.)

To make this recipe come together super quick, I use frozen bread dough. (Gasp!)  If you would like to make a dough from scratch, I commend you on such ambition!  You'll just have to use a dough recipe that you may have on hand or do a little online searching for one.  (Alton Brown has a good one HERE.)

What makes this recipe a perfect fit for me is that since I am not a perky, cheerful, jump-out-of-bed-full-of-energy type of morning person, the night owl in me can do most of the leg-work at the time of day (translation: night) when I am, indeed, bouncing off of the walls and full of (way) too much energy.  Little is required of me come sunrise to finish these ... just a tad bit of energy to turn on the oven and make the icing.  Press the button on the coffee pot and voilĂ  ... breakfast is served.

(And, a darn delicious one at that!)

A big thank you to our oldest daughter, Marah, for her help making these last night!  She always has been my baking helper since she was a little girl!

NOTE:  There are two options for proofing in the morning before baking.  Both options are explained below within the directions.  One requires 1 - 2 hours and the other just 30 minutes or so.

Yields 12 rolls.

Ultimate Overnight Cinnamon Rolls


2 loaves frozen bread dough (thawed for a few hours on the counter)


1 1/3 cups brown sugar, packed
12 tablespoons real butter, room temperature (1 1/2 sticks)
2 1/2 tablespoons ground cinnamon
3 tablespoons flour
Pinch of salt


2 cups powdered sugar
1 teaspoon real maple syrup (optional)
1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted
2 tablespoons (or more) whole milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon kosher salt

The night before you plan to bake the rolls, roll out each loaf of thawed bread into a large rectangle (bring dough to room temperature first) on a lightly floured surface.  Each loaf should be rolled out into about a 9" x 16" rectangle.

Mix together the filling ingredients.  The consistency will resemble a paste.  Divide mixture in half and spread half on each rolled-out rectangle.   I use my fingers to press the filling into the dough a little.  The filling will probably not cover the dough completely.  Just get it as equally dispersed as possible.

Roll each rectangle up tightly ... starting with the short side nearest you first.  Once rolled, trim off each end and then cut each of the two rolls into six equal pieces.  You will end up with twelve total rolls.

Butter a 9" x 13" baking pan.  Place the rolls in four rows of three into the pan. 

Cover tightly with plastic wrap and place in the fridge overnight (or for up to sixteen hours).

In the morning, remove rolls from refrigerator and follow one of the following methods for proofing:

1.  Allow pan of rolls to sit in a mildly warm spot in your kitchen to enable the rolls to come to room temperature and continue their final rise. Oven can be turned on to 200 degrees and rolls placed on top of oven to proof. This method can take 1 - 2 hours.


2.   Place pan of rolls into a gas oven that is turned OFF. Fill a shallow pan two-thirds of the way full with boiling water. Place water pan onto rack in oven directly under rolls. Shut oven door and allow rolls to rise until they look slightly puffy (about thirty minutes). Remove the rolls and water pan from oven.

Once risen, bake rolls for 20 - 30 minutes on 350 degrees or until slightly browned.

Remove from oven.

In a small bowl, whisk together glaze ingredients, adding more milk to thin glaze, if necessary. Pour glaze over warm cinnamon rolls. (You may not need all of the icing.)

Serve warm.

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  1. How delicious! And what pretty photos. If I may, I’d like to invite you to submit your photos to the new YumGoggle, a photo sharing site with the philosophy that if you worked hard to cook it and photograph it, we should show it off!

  2. Thank you for the invite to YumGoogle, Yum Girl. I will have to go check it out! :) And, thanks for stopping by! :)

  3. What kind of bread gough do you use? Is it the one that comes in a can?

    1. Hi, Cynthia. It is a frozen bread dough that comes already in a loaf, but isn't baked yet. It's just dough. I get a three-pack for around $3. I buy it at Wal-Mart, but I think it is found almost anywhere. In my store, it's in the section with frozen garlic bread and frozen biscuits. I think the brand I buy is "Rhoade's."

  4. I should probably know this, but long do you let the rolls rise?

    1. I know this is a terrible answer, but it varies. I have made these and only had it take about 30 - 40 minutes from the time I pulled them out of the fridge until I could pop them in the oven. Other times, it took between 1 - 2 hours. My thinking is that it really depends on your dough, the conditions in both your fridge and your oven ... and how early or late at night that they were placed in the fridge once assembled. Also, the time of the year and weather in your area is a factor, too. If your kitchen is nice and toasty and humid even, they will rise faster. I turn my oven on about 200 - 250 degrees and sit the pan on the oven to speed up the rising. If I need them ready super early and fast, I have even set my alarm for a couple of hours before I plan to bake them, then went back to bed. :) Sorry I cannot give you a more exact time. Thanks for your question!

    2. 12/19/12: I have updated the recipe to include an additional and quicker method for proofing. I recently made a batch of these and tried Alton Brown's method for quick proofing by placing the pan of rolls into the oven while it is turned off. (This is after they've been in the fridge overnight and just before baking in the morning.) You place a pan of boiling water on the rack directly under the rolls, shut the oven door and allow to proof in this humid, enclosed environment for around 30 minutes or so. It was much quicker than allowing to proof on the counter for 1 - 2 hours.

  5. Interesting way to make cinnamon rolls, but I like it! Off to the store to buy Rhodes frozen dough. Thank you for sharing.

  6. I would like to make these rolls smaller and get more rolls from each loaf (maybe 10 per loaf). Do you have any experience with how thick to cut them and time to bake?

    1. I have never tried making the rolls smaller, but I would imagine that it wouldn't be too difficult. I would just maybe try to roll out the dough a tad bit bigger to begin with and then just cut each roll a little smaller. As far as baking, I would just check them as they bake and look for them to still be slightly golden brown on top. I wouldn't think that the bakingvtime will be that much different, but maybe just peek along the way. Sorry I cannot be more help. Hope you have success with trying ... :)

    2. Thanks...will let you know what I do and how they turn out.

    3. Reporting in on the smaller rolls....I made these smaller by rolling them on the long side. Not as many wraps of dough, but I needed more small bites rather than large rolls. It worked out great and they were delicious.

  7. Made these this morning and had warm cinnamon rolls waiting for my duck hunters when they came in. These are easy and delicious. Everyone loves them. Will be making them often. The filling is out of this world!! Better than Cinnabon, really! Thanks for sharing such a wonderful recipe.

  8. I've been experimenting with cinnamon roll recipes for months and have primarily used those "from scratch" with all the drama yeast can produce. Theses are at long last exactly what I've beem searching for! The only change I made was to halve the recipe since it was just for my granddaughter and me. Good thing since we've already polished these off! They really are that good. Filling proprtions are excellent. Thank you! (I think)

  9. The best ever! Have been experimenting for months with made from scratch yeast rolls and while some have been pretty good, nothing comes close to this. The filling is excellent, the rolls are light and fluffy and the icing is perfect. Halved the recipe so my granddaughter and I could practice some restraint but now we're craving more. Thank you!!!!