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Overnight Cinnamon Rolls

By July 14, 2011Breakfast, Food, Recipes


If you were on Twitter Tuesday night, you may have noticed I spent the entire night baking and prepping breakfast for my first meeting with my new department staff at work the following morning. It wasn’t anything groundbreaking, just a nice double-batch of homemade cinnamon rolls — or at least that’s what I thought.

When I arrived at work with my freshly baked rolls, people were plowed by the idea that I had baked them from scratch that morning. It reminded me just how different my worlds (online vs “real”) can often be. When I’m online and typically immersed in food blogs and communities, cooking and baking from scratch is not only expected, it’s assumed. However, in my “real life,” people are often surprised or impressed when I bring food I’ve made from scratch or even assembled from pre-made ingredients. They either see it as something special that rarely happens, or act as if I’ve resurrected an antiquated trade. It’s a weird contrast, but I was happy they enjoyed breakfast nonetheless. Food is always a great way to meet people.

I call these Overnight Cinnamon Rolls, but really, they could also be called Lazy Cinnamon Rolls. The effort they require is laughable, and if you don’t use all the dough right away (this recipe makes two batches of cinnamon rolls), the dough actually develops more flavor the longer it sits in the fridge (within reason, don’t see how far you can push that statement).

The bread dough itself is the Master Dough Recipe from Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day, but it’s almost identical to the sweet dough my grandma used for years for her cinnamon rolls, so where it originally came from I have no idea.

Note: The directions below detail making a full batch of the Master Recipe, which will net you two batches of  cinnamon rolls with approximately 9 rolls per batch. You are of course more than welcome to make all 18 or so rolls at once, and I could recommend 1 ½-2x the filling and icing recipes, depending on how gooey/sticky  you like your cinnamon rolls.


Dough (via the Master Dough Recipe/Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day):
1 ¾ cups lukewarm water
1 ½ tablespoons instant yeast
1 ½ tablespoons kosher salt (or 1 1/2 tsp table salt)
4 large eggs, slightly beaten
½ cup honey
½ cup unsalted butter, melted
7 cups unbleached all-purpose flour (I used a 80/20 mix of bread and whole wheat flour)

1 cup packed brown sugar
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
4 tablespoons butter, melted
2 teaspoons nutmeg
1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
Pinch salt

¼ cup cream cheese, softened
3 tablespoons milk
1 ½ cups powdered sugar
1-2 teaspoons freshly grated lemon peel, to taste



  1. In a large bowl/mixer bowl, mix together eggs, water, honey, melted butter, yeast and salt using a silicone or oiled spoon. Slowly stir in the first six cups of flour and continue stirring vigorously until moistened and combined. If you are using a mixer, remove the whisk attachment and replace with a dough hook. Slowly add the last cup of flour and knead slowly for several minutes. Check the consistency of the dough, and add the remaining flour as necessary. The dough should be soft and moist but not sticky. Continue to knead for several more minutes until the dough clears the sides of the bowl. Lightly oil the bowl and the top of the dough and turn to coat entire dough ball. Cover and refrigerate overnight.
  2. Combine the brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, pepper and salt in a medium bowl. Mix until well incorporated. Set aside until ready to use.
  3. Butter a 9 by 13-inch glass baking dish. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Using a rolling pin, gently roll out dough into a rectangle, roughly measuring 12 by 18 inches. Brush the dough with melted butter, leaving a slight boarder along the top side. Sprinkle the filling mixture over the dough, and gently brush to blend with the melted butter. Beginning with the long edge nearest to you, roll the dough into a tight cylinder, pinching the seam to seal. Using your fingers, gently squeeze and pull the cylinder to create an even thickness. Then, using a serrated knife, slice the cylinder into 1 ½-inch rolls; this should yield you around 12 rolls. Cover with a towel and let rest for one hour.
  4. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. When the oven is ready, place the rolls on the middle rack and bake until golden brown, approximately 30 minutes.
  5. While rolls bake, prepare icing by whisking together milk and cream cheese together until creamy. Sift in the powdered sugar and continue to whisk until smooth. When rolls are finished baking, spread icing over tops and serve immediately.

Makes 9 cinnamon rolls (I squeezed 11 out of my batch by not discarding the ends). See Note above for yield/batch information.

I prepped everything the night before, woke up fifteen minutes earlier than normal to preheat and roll out/cut dough and they were ready to go by the time I had to leave for work. Best yet, the house still smells amazing and I have a ½ batch of dough left for later this week. Although you certainly wouldn’t want to eat them every day, they are a great treat and never fail to surprise and impress!

Like baking your own bread? Here are a few more of our favorite recipes: