Once In Your Life, Make Cinnamon Rolls from Scratch

It was a four-hour endeavor, but I tell you with every fiber of my being, it was totally worth it.

Seriously, folks.  If you’ve got a few hours to kill (or as in our case, a whole Sunday afternoon), make them.  I was skeptical at first: I like a Cinnabon as much as the next person, but I generally don’t consider them worth the caloric investment.  We read somewhere, though, that if you make cinnamon buns yourself just once, you’ll never go back.

So we got started mid-afternoon yesterday, cutting and boiling the potatoes (yes, you read right, potatoes), sifting flour, feeding the yeast. As we finally put them in the oven, we collapsed onto the couch, exhausted. Our knees ached.  The tower of dirty dishes loomed.

Four or five minutes later, from the depths of the couch:

Chef 1: “That was a hell of a lot of work.”
Chef 2: “No kidding – what on earth were we thinking?”

< a few seconds pass…>

Chef 1: “I think I smell them.”

< a few more seconds pass…>

Chef 2: “Oh. My. God.”

Within moments, the smell began to fill the house from top to bottom, sneaking under door frames and around corners, just like in the cartoons.  I was tempted to go out into the garage for a minute or two and re-enter the house, just to have it hit me full-force all over again.

But no time for such an indulgence – we still needed to make the glaze.

They came out of the oven perfectly golden brown, and unimaginably pillowy (owing to the potato starch).  Fortunately, the recipe insisted they needed to cool for 10 minutes before  they were to be glazed.  This gave me the opportunity to photograph them both before the glaze was applied:

Click image to see full-size...

and after:

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Recipe appears below, for the ambitious among you.

Go ahead and try them – you’ll be glad you did.

Yukon Gold Cinnamon Rolls

recipe courtesy of bon appetit
(March 2009 issue, as well as on their website)

Makes 12 Rolls

N.B. Many people have commented on bon appetit’s website that much more flour was required to make the dough come together than is indicated in the recipe.  This was our experience as well – almost twice as much!



  • 1 pound Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled, cut into 2-inch pieces
  • 1  tablespoon coarse kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
  • 3 large eggs
  • 4 1/2 cups (or more) unbleached all purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup warm water (105°F to 115°F)
  • 3 1/4-ounce envelopes active dry yeast (scant 2 tablespoons)
  • 2 tablespoons sugar


  • 1 1/3 cups (packed) golden brown sugar
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons ground cinnamon
  • 3 tablespoons unbleached all purpose flour
  • 9 tablespoons (1 stick plus 1 tablespoon) unsalted butter, room temperature


  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted
  • 2 tablespoons (or more) whole milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/8 teaspoon coarse kosher salt



  • Combine potatoes, 2 cups water, and 1 tablespoon coarse salt in large saucepan. Boil until potatoes are very tender, 15 to 18 minutes. Mash potatoes with water in pan (do not drain water). Add butter and mash until butter is melted. Whisk in eggs, then 1 cup flour; mash until very smooth. Let potatoes stand until barely lukewarm, about 10 minutes.
  • Meanwhile, pour 1/2 cup warm water into large bowl of stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment; stir in yeast and sugar. Let stand until foamy, about 10 minutes. Add potato mixture to yeast mixture; mix on low speed until well blended, 2 minutes. Mix in 3 cups flour, 1 cup at a time, beating well. Beat until sticky dough forms.
  • Spread 1/2 cup flour on work surface. Scrape dough out onto floured work surface. Knead until dough is smooth and elastic, adding more flour by tablespoonfuls if dough is very sticky, about 8 minutes.
  • Coat large bowl with butter. Transfer dough to bowl and turn to coat. Cover bowl with plastic wrap, then kitchen towel. Let dough rise in warm draft-free area until doubled in volume, about 1 hour.

Meanwhile, make filling

  • Mix brown sugar, cinnamon, and flour in medium bowl. Using fork, mix in butter.
  • Position rack in center of oven and preheat to 425°F. Line large rimmed baking sheet with parchment. Turn dough out onto well-floured work surface. Roll out dough to 24×16-inch rectangle. Sprinkle filling evenly over dough. Starting at 1 long side, roll up dough jelly-roll style, enclosing filling. Using large knife dipped in flour, cut roll crosswise into 12 pieces. Transfer rolls to baking sheet, spacing rolls about 3/4 inch apart. Cover baking sheet loosely with plastic wrap. Let rise in warm draft-free area until almost doubled in volume, about 20 minutes (rolls will be very puffy).
  • Bake cinnamon rolls until golden, about 20 minutes. Cool rolls 10 minutes on baking sheet.

Meanwhile, make glaze

  • Whisk powdered sugar, melted butter, 2 tablespoons milk, vanilla, and coarse salt in small bowl. If glaze is too thick to spread, add more milk by 1/2 teaspoonfuls as needed. Spread glaze over warm rolls.


  1. Kathy Husband says:

    Speaking of glaze, my eyes do glaze over when I see a recipe that long. But, your description and photos ALMOST make me want to make them! I think *I* can smell them! mmmmmmmm!

  2. ncarling says:

    Thanks, K – the labor was long and arduous, but as soon as the buns came out of the oven, it was all worth it. 😉

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