Bookish Treats: Giant Cinnamon Rolls

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I feel like these would be the kind of cinnamon rolls that Aunt Tulia would make at La Petite Etoile diner: fresh from the oven, spiced just right, and big enough that you’ll need a coffee refill halfway through 😉

This recipe is a little more involved than the Mexican Hot Chocolate, but well worth the effort!

Giant Cinnamon Rolls

Yield: makes 8 big ol’ rolls

You will need…

  • 9 in. x 13 in. glass or nonstick baking pan
  • Large mixing bowl
  • Dish towel to cover your mixing bowl
  • Rolling pin or sturdy drinking glass
  • parchment paper (optional, but will help your rolls not stick to the pan)
  • plastic wrap large enough to cover the baking dish

    The Dough
    1 cup milk
    2/3 cup granulated sugar
    1 and 1/2 Tbs active dry yeast
    1/2 cup butter (unsalted). Let it sit out a bit before you start so it can soften.
    2 eggs
    1/2 tsp. salt
    4 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (for the dough)
    A few extra handfuls of flour. You’ll sprinkle this on the countertop and rolling pin so the dough doesn’t stick when you roll it out.

    Cinnamon Filling
    6 Tbs butter (unsalted)
    1/2 cup granulated sugar
    1 and 1/2 Tbs. ground cinnamon

    2 cups confectioners’ sugar (the powdery stuff!)
    2 Tbs. butter (softened)
    1 tsp. vanilla extract
    1 Tbs. milk

    Making the Dough

    Yeast needs warmth and a little sugar to be happy, just like me. 😉 So start off by warming up the milk either over the stove or in the microwave. The milk should be lukewarm, but not too hot. Pour your milk into a large mixing bowl and stir in the yeast and sugar. Stir well, then cover the bowl with a towel and let the yeast get to work. After about 5-10 minutes, take a peek: the mixture should have a little bit of foam on top. (If there’s no foam, the yeast might be too old and no good for baking. If that happens, start over with fresh yeast.) If things are a bit foamy and you see some bubbles, it’s time to take the towel off the bowl and move to the next step!

    Next, cut the butter into small chunks and add it to the yeast mixture. Add in the eggs, and toss in the salt. Stir. (Don’t worry if it’s still chunky at this stage; things will come together.)

    Gradually begin adding the flour. (Add flour, stir, add flour, stir, etc.) Once it is all added, stir until the dough forms. If you’re using a spoon, this might take some work. I prefer to wash my hands and just mix/knead by hand. If you have an electric mixer, you can mix the ingredients on low until the dough forms.

    Transfer your dough ball to a lightly floured surface and knead until it is still doughy, but not sticking to your hands. (You may need to sprinkle on a little dusting of flour to get the right consistency.) Don’t knead for too long, just a minute or two. Next, we’ll let the dough rise: scoop up your dough ball, put it into a bowl, and cover it with a towel. Place your bowl in a warm spot (e.g., sunny spot in the kitchen), and wait for the covered dough to rise (about 2 hours).

    After the dough has about doubled in size, it’s time to roll it out. Sprinkle a clean surface with flour, and use a rolling pin or the side of a drinking glass to roll the dough into a long rectangle (about 10 in. x 16 in.). Don’t press down too hard at the edges when you roll—the dough should be the same thickness all over. If the dough sticks to your rolling pin, sprinkle on a little more flour to get it unstuck.

    Add the Cinnamon Filling

    Cinnamon Filling
    6 Tbs butter (unsalted)
    1/2 cup granulated sugar
    1 and 1/2 Tbs. ground cinnamon

    Next, spread the 6 Tbs. of butter all over the dough rectangle. Mix the cinnamon and sugar for the filling, and sprinkle the mixture generously over the butter. When you’re all done, firmly roll the dough up into a 16 in.-long log. Using a clean knife, go down the length of the roll and cut it into 2 in.-wide sections. (You’ll end up with 8 rolls total.)

    Spray your baking dish with cooking spray, or line the bottom with parchment paper. Place the rolls in the dish, and then cover with plastic wrap and let them rise some more (about 1.5—2 hours).


    When the rolls have risen more and are nice and puffy, take off the plastic wrap and preheat the oven to 375ºF. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until golden brown. When the rolls are done, remove them from the oven and let the pan cool off while you make the icing glaze.

    2 cups confectioners’ sugar (the powdery stuff, not regular granulated sugar)
    2 Tbs. butter (softened)
    1 tsp. vanilla extract
    1 Tbs. milk

    Mix the confectioners’ sugar, butter, and vanilla until smooth. Add a tiny bit of milk little by little (stirring throughout), until a thick glaze forms. Spread over the warm cinnamon rolls and serve immediately!

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