Make-Ahead (and Freeze) Cinnamon Rolls

Make-Ahead (and Freeze) Cinnamon Rolls

I feel like I’ll have weekends when there is zero cooking involved, and then get over-loaded where I feel there is no possible way to get it all done. Mother’s day weekend was the latter. Hosted 8 on Saturday night and had a layer cake due Sunday for a friend’s little girl’s bday along with cinnamon rolls for Mother’s Day brunch. Working ahead is my motto but I didn’t know if that applied to the cinnamon rolls? Turns out it DID! Parents were right in high school – working ahead is ALWAYS a good idea. 

I just can’t tell you how nice it was to pull th0se perfectly risen rolls out of the fridge on Mother’s day morning and fill the house with happy smells. I want to talk to you about yeast – if you’ve read this site before you know I heart yeast.

Yeast is a fungus (aka living organism) that will grow happily when it’s in the presence of warmth, liquid and food. Chilling or even freezing yeast once it’s been in contact with those things will inhibit the growth but not be detrimental. SO, if you don’t want to wait in your house for the two hour rise, just throw it all in the fridge and bring it out again when you’re home. It actually still grows in the fridge – just very slowly. Now the freezer should stop the growth (like cryogenics – you essentially stop time while it’s frozen) but if my dough is perfectly risen before it goes in, it should be great! Well this I knew in theory, though a theory untested is just words. I did the research for you, people! Make your rolls and freeze them; pull them out the night before an event that calls for freshly baked cinnamon rolls, and you will not only want to pat yourself on the back,  you’ll want to bear hug yourself. These came out just as lovely as if I had slaved away the night before.

Make-Ahead (and Freeze) Cinnamon Rolls

Makes 12

4 egg yolks

1 egg

1/4 c. sugar

8 tbsp. melted butter, cooled

6 oz. buttermilk

3 3/4 c. flour, divided

1 package instant (Rapid rise) yeast (or 2 1/4 tsp.)

1 1/4 tsp. salt


1 1/2 tbsp. cinnamon

3/4 c. brown sugar

1/8 tsp. salt


3 c. powdered sugar

1/4 c. buttermilk

2 tsp. vanilla

1. Beat egg yolks, egg, and sugar with electric mixer until bubbly, thick, and pale, about 5 minutes.


2. Whisk melted butter with buttermilk and add while the mixer is running on low speed.

3. Add 2 c. flour, salt and yeast and beat until combined. Switch attachment to dough hook (or if by hand, switch to a mixing spoon).

4. Add a second cup of flour and knead until smooth.


5. Add remaining 3/4 c. flour and knead until dough comes together into a ball, leaving the sides of the bowl entirely (about five minutes). If kneading by hand, continue for about 10 minutes until dough is tacky, smooth and elastic.


6. Transfer dough to a clean bowl sprayed with nonstick spray and cover tightly with plastic wrap. Let rise at room temp. about 2 hours or until doubled in size.



7. Punch down dough lightly and roll out on a floured counter top to a 12 x18 inch rectangle. Mix filling ingredients and sprinkle evenly over surface of the dough.


8. Starting with the long side, roll up dough tightly, pulling the dough into itself as your roll. Pinch the ends and edge of dough to seal tightly.



9. Using a serrated knife, slice dough into 12 equal parts. I use heavy duty thread – just slide the piece of thread under the dough and bring the two edges up the sides. Cross the threads and pull – crossing them through the dough and slicing the dough cleanly.


10. Spray two cake pans with nonstick spray and arrange six rolls in each pan. Cover with plastic wrap and let sit until risen, about 1 hour. Re-cover with two sheets of plastic and one sheet of aluminum foil. Freeze.



11. The night or day before baking, transfer rolls to the fridge. To bake, preheat oven to 350 degrees. Remove foil/plastic and bake for about 25 minutes or until puffed and lightly golden.


12. Remove from oven and let sit about five minutes before transferring to a plate (either inverting or using tongs to just carefully remove). Meanwhile, combine glaze ingredients in a bowl and whisk until smooth.

13. Drizzle glaze over rolls and serve.


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