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.
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.
What’s different about the method of mixing with the Tangzhong technique?
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.
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
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:
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.
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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- 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
- 3/4 cup brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- Pinch of ground cloves
- 1/2 cup chopped, toasted pecans (optional)
- 2 cups powdered sugar
- 2 tablespoons coffee (leftover or instant is good enough) or milk
- 1 ounce softened cream cheese
- Measure out 1 cup milk.
- Measure out 3 cups unbleached flour into a small bowl.
- Measure out 4 tablespoons butter and cut into small chunks. Set aside to come to room temperature.
- 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.
- Add paste mixture to the bread-machine pan along with the remaining 1/2 cup of milk.
- 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."
- 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.
- Spread each rectangle with approximately 2 tablespoons of softened butter or heavy cream.
- Mix brown sugar, cinnamon, and cloves.
- 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.
- Roll up dough the long way. Slice into 8 equal pieces. Place cut side down into greased 8-inch pan or glass dish.
- Cover and let rise until almost double in a warm, moist place.
- About 15 minutes before rolls will be ready to bake, preheat oven to 375 degrees.
- Bake rolls for about 20 minutes or until golden brown.
- 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.
- 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!)
- 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:
- Make paste with 1/2 cup and milk 3 tablespoons flour.
- 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.
- 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