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Cinnamon Rolls/Sticky Buns

cinnamon roll

Georgia resented having to wait long enough to take this picture before she could dive into the deliciousness!

Back in the Stone Ages, when I was a music-business major at Belmont College, I met a guy. I liked him and felt he liked me too.

Spending more time together, I began having him and some of his friends to my apartment, where I’d cook breakfast-themed suppers on Sunday nights. This was a big hit, since the guys lived in dorms and were eager for a reprieve from their normal cafeteria fare.

One brisk winter evening, I decided to prepare cinnamon rolls for the guys.

Brian, the guy, seemed unusually excited about this idea. That is, until I served him up a plate. I sensed how underwhelmed he was, as he exclaimed, “Cinnamon rolls? These aren’t cinnamon rolls, they’re just glorified cinnamon toast!”

Instead of being offended, I sat at the table and began eating my perfectly enjoyable cinnamon rolls, which had been prepared using a biscuit dough, while inviting him to tell me what his idea of a cinnamon roll was.

sticky buns

sticky buns, just out of the oven

Turns out, Brian’s mom had spoiled him with sticky buns made from a yeasted dough, with generous amounts of caramelized sugar, nuts, and raisins, added about every way one could think of.

sticky bun recipe

a beloved old recipe

A night of beginnings, it was; for young love, for negotiating differences, and for embracing cinnamon rolls of all kinds.

Brian eventually gained an appreciation for my quick bread approach for a streamlined weekend breakfast. But for those special occasions when glorified cinnamon toast won’t do, well, there’s always Grandma’s Sticky Buns.

Grandma’s Sticky Buns

To make a quick cinnamon roll, just substitute a lightly sweetened biscuit dough (I use this, which makes only half as much dough, so adjust filling accordingly).

Also, I’ve included directions to make Cinnamon Rolls at the end of the recipe, and most importantly, how to make these gooey gems ahead of time for a less-stressed morning.

For the dough:

1 cup milk,scalded and cooled to lukewarm

1/2 cup butter, melted

1/2 cup sugar

1 tsp. Celtic Sea Salt

2 tbsp. yeast

1/4 cup warm water

3 eggs

1 tbsp. vanilla extract

5 to 5 1/2 cups bread flour

For the filling:

1 cup butter, at room temperature

1 cup brown sugar, packed

4 tbsp. cinnamon

3/4 cup walnuts, coarsely chopped

3/4 cup golden raisins

In the pans, divide evenly:

1/3 cup melted butter

1/2 cup brown sugar, packed

1 tbsp. corn syrup

1/4 cup walnuts, coarsely chopped

To make the dough:

  • Combine lukewarm milk, butter, sugar, and salt. Add eggs and water.
  • Stir in yeast and half the flour; mix well (I use my Kitchen-Aid mixer).
  • Stir in remaining flour (enough to make a soft dough), and knead for about 8 minutes.
  • Let rise until doubled in bulk.
  • Divide dough in half and cover one batch while working with the other.

Meanwhile, prepare the pans:

  • In two large pans, divide butter, brown sugar, corn syrup, and nuts. Mix well and set aside until needed.
  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

To make the cinnamon rolls: 

  • Roll one of the halves of dough into a 12″ by 18″ rectangle.
dough rectangle

hmmmmm, guess that’s not quite a rectangle

    • Spread with lots of soft butter.
    • Combine brown sugar, cinnamon, nuts, and raisins; sprinkle half over  buttered dough, gently pressing filling into dough. Leave about half an inch around the edges of the rectangle.
    • Beginning at the 15-inch side, role up dough; pinch edge together to seal. Cut into 12 slices (cutting the dough with dental floss yields the best finish).
cinnamon rolls

ready to slice

    • Place rolls into prepared pans.
    • Repeat these steps with the other half of the dough.
    • Let rise in until doubled.
cinnamon rolls

ready to rise

  • Bake at 375 degrees for 20 to 25 minutes.

For Cinnamon Rolls:

  • Use a lighter sugar for the filling if you prefer (I can’t bring myself to say “white” because I’m not a fan of the bleaching process, but I will settle for organic cane sugar at times).
  • For the baking pans, omit the corn syrup and nut. Instead, brush the bottoms with butter and sprinkle each with sugar.If you wish, you can prepare a glaze for the cinnamon rolls:

cinnamon rolls


4 tablespoons butter

2 cups powdered sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract3 to 6 tablespoons hot water

To prepare ahead of time:

  • Mix up dough the night before and let it rise.
  • Before going to bed, shape the dough into rolls, arrange in prepared pan, cover with plastic wrap, and place in the fridge.
  • In the morning, take rolls out of the refrigerator and allow to warm for about an hour on the counter (I cheat and place near a warm burner, which cuts this rising time significantly.
  • When they’ve risen a bit, place in oven to bake as directed above.




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