Give your starter a different use in these fluffy sourdough cinnamon rolls. They are packed with delicious flavor and have a wonderful texture. Prepare the night before or the same day as suits.
This post may contain affiliate links, where we earn from qualifying purchases. See more details in the policy page.
While I don’t have a particularly sweet tooth, and my husband even less so, there are a few things we’ll make exceptions for. Some good, homemade cinnamon rolls are definitely on that list.
We’ve really enjoyed a few in the past, like my eggnog cinnamon rolls. Now we have another favorite for the list, which conveniently uses up some sourdough starter as well.
Why add sourdough?
The sourdough gives an extra level of complexity to the flavor of the dough and it goes perfectly with the sweet cinnamony filling. The slight tang and sweetness pair really well.
Plus, if you’ve got an active starter and don’t need yet another loaf, these are a great alternative. True, they take a little work, but it’s so worthwhile.
Tips for handling the sourdough dough
A couple things that you will find a little different from other cinnamon rolls, if you have made them before, is that the dough is much more sticky and it may look like it hasn’t risen all that much. Don’t worry about either, they are normal.
Sourdough doughs are typically wetter than ‘regular’ bread, as you are probably aware if you’ve made sourdough bread. The same is true here. It will be very sticky when you first mix it, but will become smoother after kneading.
Then later, you may think it isn’t going to roll out but believe me, it works.
It actually rolls pretty well, it’s just a little “floppy”. The main thing you need to remember is to make sure both your work surface and rolling pin are well floured before you roll the dough.
As it is rising, instead of lots of small air pockets in the dough, you may only see the odd bubble. You can help the process by stretching as it rises, but even still, it may not seem to have much air in it.
After your formed rolls have proved, the dough may still seem tacky. Other sweet rolls may puff up and become fluffy before baking, but these don’t seem to as much. But don’t fret, they rise more when they bake than other rolls as you’ll see.
Prepare the night before or on the same day
As with many sweet rolls, the dough here has two rises. The first time is as the basic dough then you leave it again once you have formed the rolls with the filling.
For the second rise, you can either leave them out and bake there and then, or you can put them in the fridge to slowly proof overnight.
The one aspect of the overnight proof which is a little different is the filling tends to become slightly liquid and puddle in the dish, as you’ll see above.
Don’t worry about it, as it forms a wonderful kind of syrup as the rolls bake, making them a cross between cinnamon rolls and sticky buns. The only downside is it means the filling is a little less sweet inside the rolls themselves. But, small price to pay.
You can top these rolls with whatever kind of glaze you prefer. I know if you make cinnamon rolls regularly, you may well have a preferred mix. If not, then I’d suggest either my go-to simple cream cheese frosting described below.
Alternatively, make a simple glaze blending a little milk (a tablespoon is plenty) with as much confectioner’s sugar as you need to make the thickness of glaze you would like. That’s actually what I made here as I didn’t have cream cheese and it worked well.
These sourdough cinnamon rolls have a wonderful combination of texture, flavor and just all round deliciousness. They make a wonderful breakfast treat or really any time you want to make an excuse. So go ahead: find an excuse!
Try these other delicious sourdough recipes:
- Caramelized onion sourdough bread
- Sourdough pancakes
- Sourdough pizza dough
- Pear chocolate chip sourdough muffins
- Plus get plenty more breakfast and brunch recipes in the archives.
Sourdough cinnamon rolls
For the cinnamon rolls
- 315 g all purpose flour plain flour, 2 ¼ cups
- 105 g sourdough starter fed, approx ½ cup (see notes)
- 1 tbsp sugar
- 180 ml milk ¾ cup, lukewarm
- 42 g unsalted butter 3 tbsp
- 1 egg
- 1 tsp salt
For the filling
- 42 g butter 3 tbsp
- 40 g brown sugar ¼ cup
- 2 tbsp sugar (relatively fine – use caster sugar in UK/Aus)
- 2 tsp cinnamon
- ½ tsp nutmeg
For the frosting (optional, or use a simple glaze/other as you prefer)
- 30 g cream cheese 1 oz, softened
- 14 g butter 1 tbsp, softened
- 70 g confectioners sugar icing sugar, ½ cup
- 1 tbsp milk
- Put the flour, sourdough starter, sugar, lukewarm milk, egg and butter in a large bowl and mix. Cover and leave 20 minutes then add the salt and mix in.
- Turn the mixture out onto a floured surface and knead for around 3 – 5 min, adding a little flour if needed. You want to stretch out the gluten and get it so it's no longer really sticky, but it will be a softer and stickier dough than you may be used to.
- Transfer the dough to an oiled bowl (I generally wash out and oil the one I used for mixing), cover and leave to rise for approx 4 hours until it has roughly doubled in size, giving the dough a stretch roughly every hour. To do this, pull on one side and pull it up as far as it will go, fold it over the dough then turn the bowl round about 90 degrees. Pull on the side again and fold. Make around 3 to 4 folds each hour.
- As it's almost ready, make the filling by melting the butter and mixing in the sugars, cinnamon and nutmeg. Butter a baking dish (around 9x9in, 23x23cm or similar, rounded, as I used here) – you can also use a cake pan.
- Turn out the dough onto a floured surface. Flour a rolling pin and roll out the dough to roughly 10x15in (25x38cm) although if it won't quite roll that big, that's fine. It will be soft, and may resist rolling but it will roll out.
- Spread the filling evenly over the dough leaving a slight gap (around ½in/1cm) along one shorter edge.
- Carefully roll the dough relatively tightly from the short edge with filling on towards the one with the gap. Roll onto the edge with no filling and smooth it to seal.
- With a serrated knife (or at least a sharp one), carefully slice the dough into slices, cleaning the knife between slices to save getting the filling over all the dough. You can make the slices as thick as you like, but I made around 9 slices. Place the slices into the buttered dish as you cut them with a slight gap between the slices. Note – you can also cut the roll with dental floss.
- Once you have cut all of the dough, cover the dish with the rolls. If baking there and then, leave them to rise around 2 hours. If baking the next day, leave out around 1 hour then refrigerate overnight. The next day, take out at least 30 minutes before baking but ideally nearer an hour. As you near the end of the time, preheat the oven to 355F/180C.
- Bake for approx 25-30 min until the rolls are just browning. Remove and allow to cool slightly.
- Blend together the cream cheese and butter, then add the milk and sugar for the frosting (alternatively, you can make a simple glaze from milk and confectioners sugar). Drizzle or spread it over the top. Best enjoyed warm but they will keep a couple days in an airtight container – if using after the first day, they are best gently warmed before eating.
See some of my favorite cooking tools and ingredients in the Caroline’s Cooking Amazon store.