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How To Make Cinnamon Rolls with the Tangzhong Technique

Cinnamon rolls are like donuts. They taste best the day made. But sometimes, you want or need to make and bake them ahead of time.  Making Cinnamon Rolls with the Tangzhong Technique and a bread machine could be the answer to your dilemma.

No worries if you don’t have a bread machine. Directions for using a stand mixer or mixing by hand are included in the notes of the recipe.

Stay-Fresh Homemade Cinnamon Rolls

To be clear. Nothing beats a fresh-out-of-the-oven cinnamon roll. But unless you have ten hungry kids waiting to devour them before the icing sets, these are wonderful for savoring all weekend.

Why you should make these rolls

The shelf-life of these Homemade Cinnamon Rolls mixed up in your bread machine is longer than most because the dough is mixed together using the Tangzhong technique.

This means they are appropriately ooey-gooey with a lighter, flakier, and more buttery texture.  Counterbalance all that sweetness with the pungent but not overpowering flavor of cinnamon with the tiniest pinch of ground cloves.

Stay-Fresh Homemade Cinnamon Rolls

What’s different about the method of mixing with the Tangzhong technique?

#1

Begin by making a paste mixture using half of the milk and 3 tablespoons flour.

 This variation is called the Tangzhong technique. I use the microwave for cooking the paste because it’s quick. However, you can heat the milk and flour mixture on the stove.

#2

The Tangzhong method enables a higher ratio of liquid to flour.

Starting with the paste mixture made in #1 results in rolls that need less flour. I don’t completely understand the science, but it seems to work.

How to mix up Cinnamon Rolls with a bread machine

pre-measuring milk and flour
Measure out 1 cup milk and 3 cups flour.
tangzhong method of mixing milk and small amount of flour
Whisk together half of the pre-measured milk and 3 tablespoons flour (taken from previously measured 3 cups of flour) in a microwave-safe glass container.
Cinnamon Rolls That Stay Fresh Longer Than One Day
Cook milk/flour mixture in the microwave for 1 minute, stirring after 30 seconds and then again after 15 seconds until mixture turns into a thick pudding-like consistency. Don’t worry if there are a few lumps. Pour into your bread machine pan.
Adding remainder of milk to bread machine
Add remaining 1/2 cup milk to the bread-machine pan.
Cinnamon Rolls That Stay Fresh Longer Than a Day
Add remainder of ingredients. Don’t forget to add the butter you set aside to soften. Select the “Dough” cycle and press Start.
how kneaded dough should like before proofing cycle starts

When dough cycle is complete, check to make sure dough has risen enough by testing with two fingers as described in pictures above.

Note To New Bread Machine Users:

Open your bread machine as it mixes, and take a look at the dough. Read more about why here.

At first, the dough will be lumpy with a rough texture. After about 20 minutes of kneading, it should begin to look smoother and more elastic.

If too slack, add additional flour one tablespoon at a time. Likewise, if too dry, add more milk or cream, one tablespoon at a time. Allow the dough to absorb the one tablespoon of whatever you’ve added for a couple of minutes. Look at the dough again to recheck the appearance of your dough.

Checking on the dough is VERY IMPORTANT to your success with bread in general, but especially with a bread machine. Check out this post for more details.

How to roll Out Cinnamon Rolls

Nothing new here. This method is the traditional way to roll out cinnamon rolls.

preparing floured surface to roll out dough
Remove dough from your bread maker pan to a floured surface.
Stay-Fresh Cinnamon Rolls
Divide dough into 2 equally-sized dough balls.
Rolling out dough to a rectangle shape.
Roll out one dough ball into a 13 x 10-inch rectangle.
Stay Fresh Homemade Cinnamon Rolls
Spread 2 tablespoons softened butter over the top of the dough.
Sprinkling cinnamon-sugar mixture on dough
Sprinkle buttered surface with brown sugar-cinnamon mixture.
Stay-Fresh Homemade Cinnamon Rolls
Begin rolling from the long side–as tightly as possible.
Cut Stay-Fresh Cinnamon Roll dough in equal slices. 8 per  8-inch pan
Cut rolled cylinder in half. Then cut each half into 4 evenly-sized slices for 8 slices total.
Stay-Fresh Homemade Cinnamon Rolls
Arrange in an 8-inch round pan sprayed with Baker’s Joy or a similar flour-oil aerosol as pictured.
Stay-Fresh Homemade Cinnamon Rolls
Cover loosely with plastic wrap, a cheap shower cap, or a tea towel. Set pans in a “warmish” spot for the dough to rise.
Stay-Fresh Homemade Cinnamon Rolls
When the dough has almost doubled in size, preheat oven to 375 degrees in preparation for baking. Be careful not to let rolls rise too much, or they will fall when baking.

A kitchen secret for rolling out the dough:

Cleaning up the counter after rolling out dough can be such a mess! Consequently, I use a silicone baking mat. The reason is that you can pick it up when you’re finished, shake it out in the trash or the sink, and throw it in the dishwasher. Yep! That easy.

Just one caveat:  If you cut on it as I do, use a light hand so you don’t cut a hole in the mat. I know, I know. The manufacturer of these mats would not endorse this practice. Nevertheless, I’ve been doing it for many years, and the process has not harmed a single mat.

Q and A about making Cinnamon Rolls:

Question:  Why use a bread machine?

Answer:  The bread machine is still my tool of choice for mixing up bread dough. In my experience, it’s the easiest and most fool-proof way to get the best product.

No bread machine? See alternate instructions for making these rolls with a stand mixer in the notes of the recipe below.

Question:  Can I substitute regular yeast for the bread machine or instant yeast? 

Answer:  Yes, but you will need to dissolve it first in a portion of the liquid called for in the recipe. Slightly warm about 1/4 cup of the milk. Add the yeast along with the sugar. Stir and allow the mixture to set on the counter for 10 or 15 minutes before adding to the other ingredients.

Question:  Can I mix these up the night before and bake the next morning?

Answer:  Yes. After you make the dough into rolls and have arranged them in the pan, cover and refrigerate. You can also freeze them at this point. Either way, you must allow extra time for the rolls to come to room temperature and rise to almost double before baking them.

Question:  Cinnamon rolls don’t hang around long at my house. Are they worth the trouble?

Answer:  I think so. To me, these cinnamon rolls have a better texture and flavor than most.

However, we all have different tastes, standards, and priorities. If you want something really easy, try my original cinnamon roll recipe.


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Did you try this recipe and enjoy it? Consider helping other readers (and me) by returning to this post. Leave a rating on the recipe card itself underneath the picture. Although always appreciated, comments aren’t required.

If you have a question or tip to share, please leave it in the regular comments after the recipe so I can answer back. Or, email me privately: paula at saladinajar.com.

Thank you for visiting!
Paula

Stays Fresh Homemade Cinnamon Rolls

Cinnamon Rolls with the Tangzhong Technique

Yield: 16 rolls
Prep Time: 2 hours 40 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 3 hours

These cinnamon rolls are so soft, flaky, buttery, and ooey-gooey, they probably won't last more than one day. But if you have leftovers, you'll be surprised how yummy they are.

Ingredients

DOUGH:

  • 1 cup milk, divided
  • 3 cups unbleached flour, divided
  • 4 tablespoons softened butter + 4 tablespoons for the filling
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tablespoon heavy cream OR 1 egg yolk
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1  1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons bread-machine or instant yeast

FILLING:

  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • Pinch of ground cloves
  • 1/2 cup chopped, toasted pecans (optional)

ICING:

  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 2 tablespoons coffee (leftover or instant is good enough) or milk
  • 1 ounce softened cream cheese

Instructions

Dough:

  1. Measure out 1 cup milk.
  2. Measure out 3 cups unbleached flour into a small bowl.
  3. Measure out 4 tablespoons butter and cut into small chunks. Set aside to come to room temperature.
  4. Make paste mixture by whisking half of the milk (1/2 cup) and 3 tablespoons of flour (taken from the pre-measured flour) together in a medium-size microwave-safe container. Cook on High for 1 minute, whisking after 30 seconds, then again after 15 seconds. Mixture should be thick as pudding. A few lumps are OK.
  5. Add paste mixture to the bread-machine pan along with the remaining 1/2 cup of milk.
  6. Add egg, sugar, salt, cream or egg yolk, softened butter, remaining pre-measured flour, and yeast to the bread-machine pan and select the dough cycle. Press "Start."
  7. When dough has risen to double its original size, remove from the bread pan, punch down gently and divide dough in half. On a generously floured surface, roll each half into a rectangle size about 13 x 10 inches.
  8. Spread each rectangle with approximately 2 tablespoons of softened butter or heavy cream.

Filling:

  1. Mix brown sugar, cinnamon, and cloves.
  2. Distribute half of this mixture over first rectangle and half over the second. Sprinkle about 1/4 c. chopped, toasted, pecans over the brown-sugar/cinnamon layer.
  3. Roll up dough the long way. Slice into 8 equal pieces. Place cut side down into greased 8-inch pan or glass dish.
  4. Cover and let rise until almost double in a warm, moist place.
  5. About 15 minutes before rolls will be ready to bake, preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  6. Bake rolls for about 20 minutes or until golden brown.

Frosting:

  1. Ice with 2 cups powdered sugar mixed with 1 ounce cream cheese and 2 tablespoons coffee. May need more or less liquid depending on how thick you like your icing.

Notes

  1. You only need a pinch of cloves. Don't overdo it 'cause that stuff is powerful. (You can leave it out but then your cinnamon rolls won't be as special. Promise!)
  2. Substitute milk or cream for coffee in the icing if you don't have or like coffee. The coffee taste in unidentifiable, but it sure is GOOD! Makes for a nice caramel color, too.

Directions for making bread with a stand mixer:

  1. Make paste with 1/2 cup and milk 3 tablespoons flour. 
  2. Add remaining ingredients (except the butter) to large mixing bowl. Turn on Low to mix until all ingredients are moistened. Using dough hook, turn speed to 2 or 3 and continue beating/kneading until dough becomes smooth and elastic, about 5-10 minutes.
  3. Add softened butter 1 tablespoon at a time. Continue kneading dough until butter disappears. Cover and allow to rise in a warm place. Deflate dough gently and shape rolls as indicated in recipe.

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Nutrition Information:
Yield: 16 rolls Serving Size: 1 roll
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 257Total Fat: 8gSaturated Fat: 3gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 4gCholesterol: 36mgSodium: 219mgCarbohydrates: 43gFiber: 1gSugar: 23gProtein: 5g

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Hilda

Saturday 2nd of May 2020

Looking forward to trying this recipe. Was hoping to try it today. How long do I keep the dough to rise after mixing it? And how long do I keep it to rise after shaping it and putting it in pan before I bake it?

Paula

Saturday 2nd of May 2020

Let the dough rise until not-quite-double in both cases. If making in a bread machine, just let the dough cycle run. If making in a mixer, set the dough aside to rise. I would allow at least an hour for the first rise and 35-45 minutes for the second rise. But I don't know the temperature in your kitchen, so I can't tell you exactly. I hope the rolls work out for you. Let me know if you have more questions about the instructions.

Elina Springstead

Wednesday 25th of March 2020

Hi Paula..Making cinnamon rolls today :-) I tried KA recipe yesterday and it didnt work out. I am thinking maybe my yeasts werent good so I am trying your recipe today and new yeasts. I have a question about this dough...when it is kneaded in a bread machine...should it stick to the bottom little bit or just form a smooth not sticky ball? Mine is smooth and doesnt stick to the bottom. It was like that yesterday too and I am thinking maybe too much flour and not enough water? Or it should be like that? Yesterday rolls raised very little. Thank you Paula!

Paula

Wednesday 25th of March 2020

Hi Elina, Sounds like your dough ball was about perfect. If it didn't rise, it was either too cold in the room where you put it to rise, your yeast was old or got killed by other ingredients that were too hot, or you didn't give the dough enough time to proof. Not enough water affects the texture and moisture of the rolls more than the rise. I hope this helps. Wish I could come to your house and smell those cinnamon rolls baking, and then, help you eat them. ?Write me back if you have any problems. p.s. Are you using instant yeast or bread machine yeast?

Glenda Wade

Thursday 20th of December 2018

These rolls taste amazing, very addictive. I made them Monday evening, last one consumed on Thursday morning. (I shared wih family, don’t judge me) They still tasted fresh and homemade. I will definitely make them again.

Mai Solutions

Friday 14th of December 2018

These look amazing!

Kathryn Burmeister

Friday 14th of December 2018

So delicious!