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Sourdough Cinnamon Rolls

Take your weekend breakfast to the next level with a batch of Sourdough Cinnamon Rolls. A light, fluffy sourdough is rolled with a generous sprinkle of cinnamon sugar, then topped with sweet-and-tangy cream cheese frosting. 

Sourdough Cinnamon Rolls on plate with cast iron skillet in background

While I love my own cinnamon roll recipe, a lot of the cinnamon rolls you find in stores or bakeries are pretty one-note. Or, rather, two notes: cinnamon and HOO BOY SO SWEET. Using a sourdough starter is truly a game-changer because it introduces some nuance to the recipe. The sourdough tang balances the sweetness and plays up the tanginess of the cream cheese frosting, too. 

The flavor isn’t the only thing sourdough brings to the table, though. It also changes the texture of the roll. While still light and fluffy, as all cinnamon rolls should be, it also has a delightful chewiness. (I wish there was a better word for the texture than chewy, but if you love a good sourdough, you know exactly what I mean.) Basically, Sourdough Cinnamon Rolls are Cinnamon Rolls 2.0.

Brew up some cardamom coffee and get ready for a swoon-worthy breakfast!

Overhead shot of Sourdough Cinnamon Rolls in skillet

What You’ll Need

Get all of your ingredients ready and let’s start baking!

For the dough:

  • All-purpose flour
  • Sugar
  • Kosher salt
  • Active sourdough starterHere’s how to make one.
  • Milk – Any kind of milk will do, but I usually like baking with whole because the added fat contributes to a tender crumb.
  • Egg – Let it sit on the countertop before you start baking; a room temperature egg holds more air when beaten, which means a lighter dough.
  • Butter – Unsalted

For the filling:

For the frosting:

  • Cream cheese – You’ll also need this to be room temperature. Get a brick of cream cheese, not the fluffy kind in a tub.
  • Powdered sugar
  • Vanilla extract
  • Kosher salt – My secret for perfect cream cheese frosting.

How to Make Sourdough Cinnamon Rolls

While making Sourdough Cinnamon Rolls isn’t hard, as with my Sourdough Bagels it does require some time. (Needless to say, they are worth it.) Make sure you account for that before you get started!

Start the dough. Combine the flour, sugar, and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer, then in a second bowl, whisk the egg, milk, and sourdough starter.

Mixing ingredients for Sourdough Cinnamon Rolls

Mix the dough. Fit your mixer with the dough hook, then turn it on to low speed. Slowly add the liquid ingredients to the dry ingredients. Once all the flour has been absorbed, increase the speed to high and knead for a minute. 

Add the butter. Reduce the mixer speed to low and gradually add the butter a pat at a time until it’s fully incorporated. Turn the mixer to high and knead for about 5 minutes, or until the dough is slightly sticky but smooth.

Let the dough rise. Cover the bowl with a damp cloth and let the dough rise until it doubles in size, or about 10 hours. Make sure you set the bowl in a place that’s fairly warm and free of drafts.

Roll out the dough. Turn out the dough onto a floured work surface and use a rolling pin to roll it into a rectangle about 18×12 inches in size. 

Assemble the rolls. Brush the melted butter onto the dough, then sprinkle it with cinnamon sugar, leaving a border on the edges. Use your fingers to gently press the filling into the dough a bit. Next, roll the dough into a log starting with the side closest to you, then pinch the edges to seal. Use a bench scraper to slice the log into 1 1/2-inch thick rolls.

Let the dough rise (again). Brush a 9-inch cast-iron skillet with butter, then place the Sourdough Cinnamon Rolls inside. Cover the dough and place the skillet in a warm place for 3 to 4 hours, until the rolls have doubled in size.

Bake the rolls. Place the skillet in an oven that’s been preheated to 375ºF and bake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until golden brown.

Make the frosting. While the rolls cool, combine the cream cheese, powdered sugar, vanilla extract, and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Beat at low speed until the sugar has been incorporated into the cheese, then increase the speed to medium and whip the frosting until it’s smooth and creamy. 

Overhead shot of unfrosted Sourdough Cinnamon Rolls in skillet

Frost and serve. Pour the frosting onto the cooled cinnamon rolls and use a spatula to spread it around. Pull apart the rolls and serve immediately.

What If I Don’t Have a Cast-Iron Skillet?

No problem! You can make these in an oven-proof skillet, springform pan, round cake pan, or even a square baking dish. Note that the baking time may need to be slightly longer if you use a glass or light-colored baking dish.

Closeup of Sourdough Cinnamon Rolls

Tips for Success

Here are some tips for making this recipe work:

  • Finding a sourdough starter. If you don’t have your own sourdough starter and don’t want to make one, ask on your local neighborhood group or freebie group. (Yes, seriously!) You can also buy starters online, and sometimes bakeries will sell them or even give them to you if you ask nicely enough.
  • Use kosher salt. Normally, you can substitute table salt for kosher if you use just a smidge less. But, for these Sourdough Cinnamon Rolls, you need absolutely precision, so pick up kosher salt if you don’t have it.
  • Make a baking schedule. This will help you make the best use of your time and plan for any contingencies. Baking with sourdough does take some time!
Overhead shot of Sourdough Cinnamon Rolls in skillet with bowl of frosting

How to Store Sourdough Cinnamon Rolls

You can store these cinnamon rolls for up to 2 days at room temperature, or for a week in the fridge. Just make sure you loosely cover them with saran wrap or place them in an airtight container that has some space between the bottom of the lid and the top of the cinnamon rolls. Otherwise, the frosting will stick to the plastic wrap or tupperware lid.

Can This Recipe Be Frozen?

Yes, this recipe can be frozen and there are two ways to do it. First, you could bake the Sourdough Cinnamon Rolls, then freeze them without frosting. When you’re ready to serve, let them thaw at room temperature and whip up the frosting then. You can also cut the cinnamon roll dough and freeze it before baking; just let the rolls thaw at room temperature overnight, then bake according to the recipe instructions.

Print

Sourdough Cinnamon Rolls

Using a sourdough starter takes these cinnamon rolls to the next level.

  • Author: Rustic Family Recipes
  • Prep Time: 13 hours 20 minutes
  • Cook Time: 30 minutes
  • Total Time: 13 hours 50 minutes
  • Yield: 78 rolls 1x
  • Category: Breakfast
  • Method: Oven
  • Cuisine: American

Ingredients

Scale

For the dough:

  • 3 cups all purpose flour
  • 1⁄4 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 cup active sourdough starter
  • 1 cup lukewarm milk
  • 1 egg, room temperature
  • 1⁄3 cup butter, room temperature, cut into small chunks

For the filling:

For the frosting:

  • 3⁄4 cup cream cheese, room temperature
  • 1⁄2 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1⁄4 tsp kosher salt

Instructions

Make the dough:

  1. In the bowl of a stand mixer combine the flour, sugar and salt.
  2. In a separate bowl whisk the egg, milk and starter together until no lumps of starter remain.
  3. With the dough hook attached to the mixer, turn the mixer on to low speed and gradually add the liquid ingredients. When the liquids absorb the flour, turn the speed to high and knead for 1 minute.
  4. Turn the speed back to low and gradually add the butter, one chunk at the time, until all the butter is incorporated to the dough. Once all the butter is incorporated, turn to high and knead for about 5 minutes, until the dough is smooth and slightly sticky to the touch.
  5. Once kneading is done, place the dough in a bowl and cover with a damp cloth. Leave at room temperature to rise until double, about 10 hours. If your house is cooler it many take longer time, while it may take less time if your house is warmer.

Make the filling and assemble:

  1. Brush a 9-inch cast iron skillet with butter.
  2. When the dough has doubled in size, turn it out onto a heavily floured counter and start rolling in a large rectangle ( about 18×12 inches) using a floured rolling pin.
  3. Brush the melted butter all over the top of the dough. Sprinkle the cinnamon sugar filling onto the dough, leaving a 1 inch border on all sides. Gently press the filling into the dough.
  4. Roll up the dough into a log starting with the long edge closest to you. You may need to use a bench scraper to help you roll the dough, as it may stick to the surface. If it does, just dust a little flour on the bench scraper. Roll it down to the top edge and pinch the edge to the dough log to seal it.
  5. With your bench scraper, slice the log into rolls 11⁄2 inches wide. Place each roll in the cast iron skillet, cut side up. You will have about 7-8 rolls. 6. Cover and place in a warm place for 3-4 hours, until the rolls have doubled in size.
  6. When the rolls have doubled in size, preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Place the skillet in the oven and bake for about 25-30 minutes, or until golden brown.

Make the frosting:

  1. While the rolls are cooling, make the frosting. Combine the cream cheese, powdered sugar, vanilla extract and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Mix at low speed until the sugar has been incorporated, then increase to medium speed and continue mixing until you have a smooth frosting, about 2 minutes.
  2. Pour the frosting over the cinnamon rolls and gently spread with a spatula. Serve immediately and enjoy!

Notes

The cinnamon rolls can be stored for 2 days at room temperature or up to one week in the refrigerator.

Keywords: sourdough recipes, cinnamon roll recipes, cinnamon buns

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