Monday, March 22, 2010

Whole Wheat Cinnamon Rolls

I hate flying. Hate it. Love traveling, but hate flying. This is a difficult feeling to manage when you live 3000+ miles away from all of your family and most of your closest friends. Almost every year, I swear to myself that I will not fly home for the holidays this year, just to find myself frantically searching for flights come December. The worst part about flying to New York from California is having a lay-over in some city which will inevitably have some sort of weather problem. Yes, I know there are direct flights from California to New York, but I am too cheap for those (please see profile: graduate student=no money).

My worst trip home was a few years ago when two days before Christmas, during my layover in Indiana, my flight was canceled, and I had to spend the night in an airport hotel. The compensation from the airlines was a $15 food voucher to buy dinner from any airport restaurant. As appetizing as fast food and greasy pizza sounded, I opted for another airport classic: a giant cinnamon roll from no other than Cinnabon.

What is it about a cinnamon roll that is so comforting and satisfying? The soft and warm bread slathered in cinnamon and butter, and topped with gooey, tangy, and sweet frosting. Yum. Luckily, you don't have to be stuck in an airport to enjoy this warm, gooey goodness - delicious cinnamon rolls are pretty simple to make at home. I have made cinnamon rolls using all purpose flour in the past, but this time wanted to try whole wheat. I used white (rather than regular) whole wheat, and the results were amazing -- taste-wise, these rolls are just as delicious as their all-purpose cousins. Visually, they were a bit browner, and therefore require a bit more care to make sure they don't overcook.

Once the dough is mixed up, it must rise for at least 2 hours. Then it is rolled
into a large rectangle and sprinkled with butter and a generous helping of
cinnamon sugar.

The dough is then rolled up and cut into individual rolls. Using thread
(or unwaxed dental floss) to cut the dough helps prevent it from sticking
to itself.

I baked the ends in a ramekin - a trick I learned from here (woops, somehow I ended up with 3 ends instead of 2).
Whole Wheat Cinnamon Rolls (Adapted from Molly Wizenberg’s recipe in Bon Appetit, March 2008 via SmittenKitchen).

*1 cup whole milk
*3 tablespoons unsalted butter
*3 1/2 cups (or more) white whole wheat flour, divided
*1/2 cup sugar
*1 large egg
*2 1/4 teaspoons rapid-rise or instant yeast (from 1 envelope yeast)
*1 teaspoon salt
*Nonstick vegetable oil spray or butter, for greasing bowl

*3/4 cup (packed) brown sugar
*2 tablespoons ground cinnamon
*1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
*Pinch of salt

*8 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
*1 cup powdered sugar
*1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

For dough: Combine milk and butter in glass measuring cup. Microwave on high until butter melts and mixture is just warmed to 120°F to 130°F, about 30 to 45 seconds. Pour into bowl of stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment. Add 1 cup flour, sugar, egg, yeast, and salt. Beat on low speed 3 minutes, stopping occasionally to scrape down sides of bowl. Add additional 2 1/2 cups flour. Beat on low until flour is absorbed and dough is sticky, scraping down sides of bowl. If dough is very sticky, add more flour by tablespoonfuls until dough begins to form ball and pulls away from sides of bowl. Turn dough out onto lightly floured work surface. Knead until smooth and elastic, adding more flour if sticky, about 8 minutes. (You may also use a KitchenAid’s dough hook for this process.) Form into ball.

Lightly oil large bowl with nonstick spray or thin layer of butter. Transfer dough to bowl, turning to coat. Cover bowl with plastic wrap, then kitchen towel. Let dough rise in warm draft-free area until doubled in volume, about 2 hours.

For filling:

Mix brown sugar and cinnamon in medium bowl. Punch down dough. Transfer to floured work surface. Roll out to 15x11-inch rectangle. Spread butter over dough, leaving 1/2-inch border. Sprinkle cinnamon sugar, then walnuts, evenly over butter. Starting at 1 long side, roll dough into log, pinching gently to keep it rolled up. With seam side down, trim ends straight if they are uneven (bake separately in ramekin), and cut dough crosswise with thin sharp knife into 18 equal slices (each about 1/2 to 3/4 inch wide).

Spray two 9-inch square glass baking dishes with nonstick spray. Divide rolls between baking dishes, arranging cut side up (there will be almost no space between rolls). Cover baking dishes with plastic wrap, then kitchen towel. Let dough rise in warm draft-free area until almost doubled in volume, 40 to 45 minutes.

Position rack in center of oven and preheat to 375°F. Bake rolls until tops are golden, about 20 minutes. Remove from oven and invert immediately onto rack. Cool 10 minutes. Turn rolls right side up.

For glaze:
Combine cream cheese, powdered sugar, and vanilla in medium bowl. Using electric mixer, beat until smooth. Spread glaze on rolls. Serve warm or at room temperature.


  1. Oh, I LOVE you for posting this! They look sooo good, and with whole wheat! I'm going to be making these soon, I think...

  2. the ONLY way i'm able to fly as much as i do is to reward myself for retaining my sanity with some cinnabon love. i can't quite describe my disappointment when an airport doesn't have one or i don't have time to stop in.
    these rolls look great, and i love the ramekin trick. :)

  3. When I was moving to New York, I flew from South Africa via Cairo, and in the flurry of getting on the plane with way too much baggage I left my passport on the bus at the airport in Johannesburg! I had to spend four days at the Cairo airport -- with no cinnabon in sight! pity since i love cinamon rolls. Anyway, yours look much better than cinnabon. saving for must make list (such a LONG list!).

  4. I have to fly from New York to Bastia, Corsica. There are no direct flights altogether. The best I can do is fly to Paris, change airports, then fly again. Total travel time is about 15 hours... That's not counting the wait time at the airport of course :(

    That being said, these rolls look delicious :)

  5. Those look amazing! And no raisins--yay! I always seem to get stuck in airports and love it when they have a Cinnabon. I try to avoid buying them, as they are so rich, but my defenses are low when travelling! I'm not sure I can get white whole wheat flour here, but now I know I have to look!

  6. These really do look lovely. Fifteen dollars does not go very far in an airport. We traveled during the Christmas holidays this year and had trouble every step of the way due to cancelled flights. Next year will be better :-).

  7. I hate flying too. I'm scared more than worried about layovers and such. I just don't want that to be the way I go out if it's time!
    These cinnamon buns look wonderful, and I love that you used whole grain-truly a breakfast food now...

  8. I'm so with you on the flying, but not so much on the cinnamon rolls. I just don't like cinnamon at all, it's so weird -- and not very American I guess. But I can make up for it with my love for burgers ;)
    Despite my non-love for cinnamon rolls, your photos are great, and I can totally imagine making this recipe with some kind of chocolate filling instead.

  9. Flying is not fun anymore. And around Christmastime, weather is always a factor! We've had a lot of nightmare stories to tell over the years. This past year was the first time everyone got here with no problems. With their luggage!

    I hate to tell you (and I won't) how many calories I read once that were in a Cinnabon. I never ate another one! So your whole wheat version is looking mighty good to me!

  10. I agree, nothing beats a cinnamon roll, yum!

  11. It's almost impossible to walk by Cinnabon and not buy one. Yours look delicious! Love the addition of whole wheat.

  12. wow they look so tempting, inviting n yummy!!!

  13. There are numerous restaurants at the Cairo international airport. Bars are located in the Departures halls of both terminals and are open 24 hours.
    cairo egypt airport

  14. Mmmhhh, they look so irresistible!



  15. I love the smell of Cinnamon rolls wafting thru the terminals when there is a Cinnabon around. I love cinnamon and these look perfect!

  16. Oooh, I swear as soon as that pic popped up on my screen, all I could think of was frosting! frosting! ooh look, frosting! Needless to say I loved this post and am now craving cinnamon rolls. Thanks for the cool tips and tricks with the floss and ramekin :)

  17. Oh My LORD!! Sweet heaven!! (thanks for reading my hangover post). I LOVE THIS POST! As every other one you post up. You GO GIrl!!!!!

  18. O-M-G!!! These cinnamon rolls look amazing even with wheat flour. Wow. That is fantastic! Yeah, great minds think alike, but I like your mind much better haha. It is much healthier :D.

    I like the tip on putting the ends of the rolls in the ramekin. I wonder how you got three ends...hmmm hehe

    I know what you mean about paying for travel. It is very expensive to get a direct flight. Have you tried It is okay for emergency flights...sometimes.

    P.S. I love the process photos!!! I'm so jealous of your lighted area!

  19. About 5 years ago, I was teaching English in Rome for the summer. Since the direct flights from Rome to NY were SUPER EXPENSIVE, I decided to fly into Dublin and transfer from there. Well, I decided it would be fun to sleep in the airport rather than get a hotel - I thought it would be an adventure. NEVER AGAIN. I've hated airports ever since haha! And there was no food!!!

    Your cinnamon rolls look amazing!!!! I wish I had had one of them while I was freezing my butt off in a tiny, metal chair in the Dublin Airport!

  20. oh yum! My family and I love cinnamon rolls.. I like that you're using whole wheat flour, I will give this a try! :)

  21. Yes, flying sucks! Someone needs to invent a teleporter like they have in Star Trek, so that we can move from place to place instantly and take our cinnamon rolls with us :)