Heartbeet Kitchen
Dreamy Sourdough Cinnamon Rolls
August 12, 2020 (last updated January 31, 2021) in Breakfast · Christmas · Easter · Nut-Free · Sourdough · Thanksgiving · Vegetarian · 15 Comments

Chewy, super soft sourdough cinnamon rolls topped with a heavenly cream cheese frosting. Recipe uses active sourdough starter, and can be made overnight! The texture is extremely fluffy and pillowy, the crumb just shreds apart. Melt in your mouth good.

Sourdough Cinnamon Rolls, frosted with cream cheese frosting in an aluminum baking pan
Sourdough Cinnamon Rolls, frosted with cream cheese frosting in an aluminum baking pan

I’ve made dozens of these sourdough cinnamon rolls to get them just right for you – AND I’M NOT COMPLAINING. I mean, are cinnamon rolls ever bad??

These dreamy sourdough cinnamon rolls are light as a feather, extra fluffy, and very forgiving. Using your active sourdough starter, they benefit from an overnight bulk fermentation, which makes things easier for timing purposes.

And they aren’t cloyingly sweet! The slight tang from the decadent cream cheese frosting is the perfect contrast to the buttery rolls.

spreading cream cheese frosting on a pan of cinnamon rolls
cinnamon roll with cream cheese frosting on a blue plate

I’ve always been intimidated by making cinnamon rolls, but the fact of the matter is, perfectly imperfect is just as delicious – and pretty! I still can’t make those Pinterest perfect pans of completely symmetrical, perfectly frosted cinnamon buns. And I don’t care. :)

So don’t be too hard on yourself. Don’t fret if you don’t get the tightest roll you want, or yours are a little more rectangular than circular. The dough is forgiving. And they will always taste INCREDIBLE.

Ingredients in Sourdough Starter Cinnamon Rolls:

This sourdough cinnamon roll recipe has relatively straightforward ingredients, using all purpose and whole wheat flour, egg, butter, and milk – making it an enriched dough.

Most importantly, you’ll need active sourdough starter to mix your dough. An active sourdough starter is one that has been fed and is holding its peak. You do not want to use sourdough discard, or an unfed starter.

a bag of whole wheat flour, all purpose flour, a stick of butter, one brown egg, sugar, and milk, and sourdough starter, laid out on a kitchen counter.
cinnamon roll dough being mixed in  a kitchenaid stand mixer, with butter on plate to its left

The secret to super soft cinnamon rolls:

It’s butter in the dough! Happy fats. And this piece takes a little planning. You’ll want your butter to room temperature, so that you can add it to the dough while it is being kneaded in your stand mixer. If it’s too warm, it will make the dough greasy. Too cold, it won’t blend into the dough.

Overnight Cinnamon Rolls Technique:

What I love about this recipe is how efficient it is with the use of an overnight bulk fermentation. Enriched doughs take much longer to rise because of the additional ingredients in them, so letting them sit overnight works out perfectly. Plus, you’re not peaking at the dough every hour wondering why it isn’t rising faster and what have you done wrong? I say this because this was me a few times during testing.

Bakers Schedule:

  • Around 9 pm, you’ll mix your dough, and let bulk ferment on the counter, overnight.
  • The next morning (before 8am), check your dough and ensure it is puffy and has grown double.
  • Put dough onto a floured countertop, and rest for 10 minutes. Then roll out to large rectangle, roughly 17″x 12″.
  • Mix all the filling ingredients in a bowl then spread over the rectangle of dough keeping about a 1/2 inch away from all the edges.
  • Roll into a log and cut individual rolls. You will really want to have a bench scraper for rolling up the log, and cutting. It’s a game changer.
  • Place in aluminum baking pan.
  • Let rise 4ish hours on countertop, and bake.

Option 2: You could also do the bulk fermentation during the day, roll out the cinnamon rolls and place into aluminum pan. Let sit in warm spot for 2 hours, then refrigerate overnight for their final rise. To do this, you’d probably need to start the dough around NOON, since it takes 8-10 hours to bulk ferment. After the refrigerated overnight final rise, you should let dough warm up to room temp in a warm spot.

Either way works! Or if you wanted to make a non-sourdough version, you could make these Cinna-Mini’s.

cinnamon roll dough rising in an aluminum pan
THIS IS WHAT THEY SHOULD LIKE WHEN FINAL PROOF IS COMPLETE, VERY PUFFED AND TOUCHING EACH OTHER
cinnamon roll dough rising in an aluminum pan
Another view of rolls after final proof is complete.
baked and unfrosted cinnamon rolls
baked and unfrosted cinnamon rolls

Homemade Cream Cheese Frosting

Making this frosting is a breeze, just be sure the cream cheese is softened before whipping. Then you’ll simply add vanilla extract, powdered sugar, and salt.

What I love about this homemade cream cheese frosting is how well the tang compliments the cinnamon rolls. You can make it as sweet or as tangy as you’d like by tasting and adjusting the amount of powdered sugar you add. I find that a little over a 1/2 cup per 6 ounces of cream cheese is what I prefer.

sourdough cinnamon rolls in an aluminum pan with cinnamon and cream cheese frosting next to pan
sourdough cinnamon rolls in an aluminum pan with cinnamon and cream cheese frosting next to pan
a pan of sourdough cinnamon rolls slathered with cream cheese frosting

Storing Cinnamon Rolls

I like storing my baked and iced cinnamon rolls in a covered tin at room temperature for up to 24 hours.

After that, I put them in a sealed glass container and refrigerate. When I want one, I warm it up in the microwave for 25 seconds. They’re still amazing on the 3rd day this way!

two sourdough cinnamon rolls, on two blue plates
cinnamon roll with cream cheese frosting on a blue plate

These Sourdough Cinnamon Rolls are incredibly soft, and when you pull the layers apart, they shred into feathery pieces. HEAVEN.

Chewy. Decadent. Sweet, but not too sweet.
Everything a cinnamon roll should be.

If you make this recipe, tag me on instagram with hashtag #heartbeetkitchen or @heartbeetkitchen!

SEE MORE -> COLLECTION OF SOURDOUGH RECIPES.

a pan of sourdough cinnamon rolls slathered with cream cheese frosting

Dreamy Sourdough Cinnamon Rolls

Yield: 8 rolls
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Additional Time: 12 hours
Total Time: 12 hours 50 minutes

Soft and fluffy homemade sourdough cinnamon rolls with a cream cheese frosting.

Ingredients

Filling

  • 3 tablespoons softened, unsalted butter
  • 80 grams organic cane sugar
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • pinch of salt

Cream Cheese Frosting

  • 6 ounces full fat ounces cream cheese, softened
  • 1/2 cup + 1 tablespoon powdered sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt

Instructions

    1. Add flours, sugar, and salt to bowl of a stand mixer. Stir together. Whisk egg, milk, and starter together in separate bowl until no lumps of starter remain. 
    2. Attach hook to mixer, and turn on on Kitchenaid speed 2, and gradually add liquid ingredients, until all dry bits are gone. When most of the flour is absorbed, turn mixer to speed 4 and knead for 30 seconds. Mixture will not look smooth, just shaggy. Let sit for 15 minutes. 
    3. Turn mixer onto speed 2 (using Kitchenaid Stand Mixer) and add one chunk of butter at a time to the dough, only adding another chunk once the previous is fully incorporated into the dough. Keep doing this until the butter is all added to the dough.
    4. Once all the butter is in the dough, turn KitchenAid up to speed 4 and continue kneading for 7 minutes - the dough will be smooth, and cleaning the sides of the bowl. It will be slightly sticky to the touch still. 
    5. Overnight rise: Once kneading is done, place the dough in a bowl and cover with a damp cloth, or place bowl inside garbage bag. Leave at room temp to rise until double, about 9-10 hours if your home is at 70 degrees F. It will take longer if your home is cooler, less time if your home is warmer. *Because this is a brioche dough, it takes significantly longer to rise - don't be alarmed.
    6. In the morning, the dough will have doubled, have a smooth top and be domed. Turn it out onto a heavily floured counter. Gently pat it into a rectangle shape and let rest for 10 minutes. 
    7. Using a floured rolling pin, roll it into a large rectangle roughly 17″x 12, making the rectangle so that one of the longest sides is closest to you.
    8. To make the filling: Use your fingers to spread the softened butter onto the dough keeping 1/2" away from edges. This will seem odd, but this technique prevents the filling from leaking out while rising. Mix cinnamon, sugar, and salt in small bowl. Evenly distribute the mixture on top of butter.
    9. Then use your bench scraper to begin rolling up the dough into a log starting with the long edge closest to you. Use a little extra flour on the bench scraper each time to help pick the dough up from the surface. Don’t worry if it sticks a little, just use a little more flour dust. Roll it down to the top edge and pinch the edge to the dough log to seal it.
    10. You should have a long log of dough roughly 17″ long. Now cut the dough log with your bench scraper, at 1 1/2 to 2" intervals (you should get 8 or 9 rolls) and place the rolls into a liberally buttered or greased 9 x 13 inch aluminum pan. (You can also use glass, but make sure it is well greased).
    11. Place the pan inside a clean garbage bag and fold the opening over so that no air gets inside. Leave at room temp (in a warm spot if possible) to proof for 3 1/2ish hours, or about double in size. They should look like the picture above in the post, denoted with a caption that says, "after proofing, ready for oven."
    12. When the rolls are done proofing, preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Place pan in oven, turn down to 375 degrees F, and bake for about 25-30 minutes, or until golden brown at the edges, set in the middles and smelling done.
    13. When rolls are cooled, beat the frosting ingredients together and slather on rolls liberally. 

Notes

* Baker's schedule options are listed above in blog post.

* Plan ahead! You'll want your butter to room temperature, so that you can add it to the dough while it's being kneaded in your stand mixer. If it's too warm, it will make the dough greasy. Too cold, it won't blend into the dough.

* I strongly suggest having a bench scraper for this recipe. It makes this easier!

* Recipe inspired by and adapted from Ashley Marie Farm and Bakery, and The Perfect Loaf.

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15 thoughts on “Dreamy Sourdough Cinnamon Rolls

  1. Maggie

    Can I use only all-purpose flour? I don’t have any wheat flour. If yes do I have to make any other adjustments?

    Thanks

    Reply
  2. Ally

    When doing the last proof as a refrigerator proof do you still place the tray in a trash bag and then place in the refrigerator overnight? Thanks

    Reply
    1. Amanda Paa Post author

      Correct!
      And since this is an enriched dough with butter, they will not rise as much as typical bread in the refrigerator. So when you take them out in the morning, let them sit on the counter to double if they aren’t at that stage yet.

      Reply
  3. Natalie Louis

    Delicious tangy flavor from the sourdough and cream cheese. I checked the internal temp and it was over 190, but still moist and not too dry.

    Reply
  4. Tre McCarney

    Can I make these ahead of time, freeze after the final proof and then pull out on Christmas Eve to thaw overnight on the counter so I can pop them in the oven for Christmas morning?

    Reply
  5. Cheri Mitchell

    Hello, I was planning to make these today for my husbands work but he is not going in today; need to bake them tomorrow. I’ve already got them proofing in the pan- can I can pop them in the fridge until tomorrow morning then bake them?

    Reply
  6. Betsy

    Hello! Would using salted butter slow down the speed of fermentation? I have a very active starter and haven’t had a problem with it yet. My house is between 70 and 72 degrees. For some reason my dough is rising at a very slow speed with the bulk fermentation as well as the second rise of the cinnamon rolls. I did use salted butter. Do you have any trouble shooting tips?

    Reply
    1. Amanda Paa Post author

      Hi Betsy! Did you use salted butter and the amount of salt called for? If so, that would likely impact the rise due to the chemical properties.
      Also, because this is a brioche dough, with eggs, butter, and milk, both rises take significantly longer time than regular bread. An overnight rise for the bulk fermentation is easiest because you won’t be looking at the dough wondering why it isn’t rising faster.
      If you can move your dough to a warmer spot for the final rise, that will help!

      Reply
  7. deb fodi

    hi.. my house is only at 68 ish, would u advise putting the rolls, after the rise in the fridge, in the oven with a pan of hot water at the bottom ie steam – to expediate the final rise ? thx

    Reply
    1. Amanda Paa Post author

      Hi! To expedite the rise after taking them out of the fridge, I would put the pan in the oven with the light on, while the oven is off. This will create a warmer ambient temp.

      Reply
  8. Daniele

    Fwiw. I LOVE THIS RECIPE. BUT…if you live in a cooler high altitude area like I do (SLC), I have to warm a room to about 75 degrees to get this dough to rise at any of the rising phases. Hopefully that helps someone. Also I’ve used oat milk instead of dairy milk without adjustment and it works fine.

    Reply
    1. Amanda Paa Post author

      Hi Daniele! So glad you like the recipe. Yes, an air temp between 72 and 78 degrees F is ideal for helping these rise because this is a brioche dough.

      Reply

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