by: Chef Jim Berman

I think good cinnamon rolls are taken for granted. There is certainly some craftsmanship that goes into a good, quality cinnamon roll, but I think that the ability to produce a really spectacular morsel is not given its due respect. Mass produced, mall-wrought fast-food style rolls are commonplace. These fat-laden, way-too-sweet gooey dough amalgams are not pure specimens; rather they are the one-size-fits all, “eat it, semi enjoy it, feel lousy afterwards and come back for another next time” variety. In other words, they get by as a good cinnamon roll when no other volunteers step forward from the line. They may even pass as adequate. This is not food snobbery talking; this is the voice of wanton desire for better food. Not every meal has to be monumental, mind you. Rather, if you are going to consume the fat, it just needs to be worth it. If there is going to be guilt, it should be worth it! So, if you are going to indulge in a cinnamon roll, let it be worthy of the effort it is going to take to burn the calories.

The following is a step-by-step for 20 cinnamon rolls as produced in the kitchen of the classroom in which I get to explore some great food with some fantastic students. The rolls are constructed by eleventh grade Culinary Arts student, Rebecca McClain. She worked with Melissa Rubincan, another eleventh grade Culinary student who assisted with the photography… and taste-testing. These particular rolls take about 45 minutes of ‘bench’ work, two hours of resting and another 20-30 minutes of bake time. No small task (and certainly no easy clean up!) but well worth your time.

Mise en place


¾ cup, butter, unsalted

1 cup, milk, whole

¾ cup, sugar, granulated

1 teaspoon, salt

1 Tablespoon, yeast, instant active

½ cup, water, 100 degrees

1 teaspoon, sugar, granulated

6 eggs, large

9 cups, flour, bread

½ tablespoon, cinnamon


5 cups, sugar, light brown

1 ¼ cup, butter, unsalted

3 Tablespoons, cinnamon

Glaze: (optional)

1 pound, confectioner’s sugar

¼ +/- lemon juice, room temperature

Heat butter, milk, ¾ Cup sugar and salt over low heat until butter melts.[/td][/tr][tr][td] [/td][/tr][tr][td]
[/td][/tr][tr][td]Set aside to cool. In a large mixing bowl, combine yeast, warm water, 1 teaspoon of sugar and set aside. Stir in the butter, milk, sugar & salt into the yeast mixture.[/td][/tr][tr][td] [/td][/tr][tr][td]/imgs/articles/cinnamonrolls/kneeding1.jpg[/td][/tr][tr][td]Stir in eggs. Add the butter and milk mixture to the flour and
cinnamon to form a stiff dough.[/td][/tr][tr][td] [/td][/tr][tr][td]
[/td][/tr][tr][td]Knead 10 minutes on a lightly floured surface.  [/td][/tr][tr][td] [/td][/tr][tr][td]
Cover dough in a greased bowl and rest for 1 hour
[/td][/tr][tr][td] [/td][/tr][tr][td]/imgs/articles/cinnamonrolls/rolling.jpg[/td][/tr][tr][td]Prepare the filling:  beat together the brown sugar, butter and cinnamon.[/td][/tr][tr][td] [/td][/tr][tr][td]
[/td][/tr][tr][td]Punch the dough down. Roll out into a 24”x36” rectangle and dress with filling.[/td][/tr][tr][td]
/imgs/articles/cinnamonrolls/rolling1.jpg  /imgs/articles/cinnamonrolls/rolling2.jpg  /imgs/articles/cinnamonrolls/rolling3.jpg​
Spread evenly on dough surface, reserving ½ cup of smear to apply to interior of pan.
Roll the dough around the filling.​
[/td][/tr][tr][td] [/td][/tr][tr][td]
[/td][/tr][tr][td]Roll into 40” log and cut at 2” intervals to produce 20 rolls. Spread remaining smear in interior of pan.[/td][/tr][tr][td] [/td][/tr][tr][td]/imgs/articles/cinnamonrolls/coating.jpg[/td][/tr][tr][td]Proof 1 hour. Bake 25-30 minutes at 350° in a pre-heated convection oven.[/td][/tr][tr][td] [/td][/tr][tr][td]
/imgs/articles/cinnamonrolls/outofoven.jpgTurn out finished rolls by inverting baking pan on to awaiting sheet tray. Glaze, if desired: Mix confectioner’s sugar with lemon juice to form thick glaze. Drizzle the glaze on tuned-out rolls when cool.

The filling can be augmented with raisins or other dried fruit, chopped nuts, chocolate chips or a combination thereof.

These rolls can be taken all the way to the proofing stage and then refrigerated overnight so start off the morning with fresh baked cinnamon rolls. Remove the panned rolls from the refrigerator and allow to return to room temperature then bake as noted above. Avoid baking these much earlier than needed; there is much to be said of the fresh-from-the oven flavor and texture. Besides, what better way to awaken a hibernating family from their slumber than the sinfully opulent sting of cinnamon wafting and weaving through every corner and crevice of an early Sunday morning?