Cinnamon Rolls — Artisan Bread in Five Minutes A Day Style

cinnamon rolls

I had no expectations for these cinnamon rolls. I’m still in disbelief in fact about how incredibly delicious they tasted. I mean, I knew the brown sugar and butter and pecans slathered in the pan and rolled into the dough would create a cinnamon roll affect, but I didn’t expect the dough itself — just a standard bread dough (water, flour, yeast, salt) — to have that enriched brioche-like flavor. How could a no-butter, no-sugar, no-egg, no-milk dough yield a nearly perfect if not perfect cinnamon roll? That’s a question perhaps better answered by all of you experienced bakers out there. I’m stumped. Replete, content and stumped.

I made this recipe on a whim. I had already baked off 3 smallish loaves of bread from my batch of Artisan Bread in Five dough — the master recipe yields 4 loaves — and I wanted to try something new. In the preface to the book’s Sticky Pecan Caramel Roll recipe, the authors note that the recipe works — and works well — with their standard boule dough, and so I went for it. And I’m so glad I did. Oh man were these good. I don’t know how an enriched-dough could improve the flavor, but I’m curious. As soon as I recover from my sticky bun binge, which might take a few more weeks, I’m going to give the ABin5 brioche dough a go. I’m already looking forward to that happy morning.

If you like this recipe, check out the ABin5 blog. Oh my, this monkey bread looks fabulous. And here are some other ABin5 loaves I have tried:

Traditional Boule
Cinnamon Swirl Bread — an absolute favorite
Partially Whole Wheat Boule
Broa — Portuguese Corn Bread – not sweet corn bread but bread with cornmeal

cinnamon rolls

cinnamon rolls

The Master Recipe: Boule
Adapted From Artisan Bread in Five Minutes A Day by Jeff Hertzberg and Zoë François
Yield = Four 1-pound loaves. Recipe can be doubled or halved

3 cups lukewarm water
1½ T. granulated yeasts (1½ packets)
1½ T. kosher or other coarse salt
6½ cups (29.25 oz.) unsifted, unbleached, all-purpose white flour, measured with the scoop-and-sweep method

Mixing and Storing the Dough
1. Warm the water slightly: It should feel just a little warmer than body temperature, about 100ºF.

2. Add yeast and salt to the water in a five-quart bowl, or preferably, in a resealable, lidded (not airtight) plastic food container or food-grade bucket. Don’t worry about getting it all to dissolve. (I added the yeast, then the flour and then the salt on top of the flour to avoid killing any of the yeast, but apparently this is unnecessary.)

3. Mix in the flour: Add all of the flour at once, measuring it with dry-ingredient measuring cups, by gently scooping the flour, then sweeping the top level with a knife or spatula; don’t press down into the flour as you scoop or you’ll throw off the measurement by compressing. Mix with a wooden spoon. If necessary, reach into your mixing vessel with very wet hands and press the mixture together. Don’t knead! It isn’t necessary. You’re finished when everything is uniformly moist, without dry patches. Dough should be wet and loose enough to conform to the shape of the container.

4. Allow to rise: Cover with a lid (not airtight) that fits well to the container you’re using. Allow the mixture to rise at room temperature until it begins to collapse (or at least flattens on the top), approximately two hours. You can use a portion of the dough any time after this period, but fully refrigerated dough is less sticky and is easier to work with. So, the first time you try this method, it’s best to refrigerate the dough overnight before shaping a loaf.

If you want to make standard boules, continue with step 5 here.

Sticky Pecan Caramel Rolls

1 1/2 lbs. of pre-mixed dough (recipe above)
Note: My portion of dough weighed 1 lb 12 oz., so the recipe is relatively flexible in this sense. I did have to whip up a little bit more butter-cinnamon-and-sugar filling, however, to compensate for the larger surface area.

The Caramel Topping
6 T. unsalted butter, softened
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 cup brown sugar
30 pecan halves (I crushed up my pecan halves, but feel free to leave them whole if you wish)

The Filling
4 T. salted butter, softened (I used unsoftened)
1/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp. freshly grated nutmeg (I did not use)
1/2 cup chopped and toasted pecans (I did not toast)
Pinch of ground black pepper (I did not use.)

1. On baking day, cream together the butter, salt and brown sugar. Spread evenly over the bottom of a 9-inch cake pan. Scatter the pecans over the butter-sugar mixture and set aside. (Note: I experienced terrible spillage, which resulted in a burnt oven floor. Soooo, if you have a pan with high sides, that might work best. Otherwise, place a pan (disposable or not) on the rack below your pan to catch the spillage.

2. Dust the surface of the refrigerated dough with flour and cut off a 1.5 lb piece. Dust the piece with more flour and quickly shape it into a ball by stretching the surface of the dough around to the bottom on all four sides, rotating the ball a quarter-turn as you go. (Note: I didn’t really do this. I simply placed my piece of dough (Which was a little bit larger than 1.5 lbs.) on my work surface and stretched it out into a rectangle.)

3. With a rolling pin, roll out the dough to a 1/8-inch thick rectangle. As you roll out the dough, use enough flour to prevent it from sticking to the work surface but not so much as to make the dough dry. If the dough is being stubborn, let it sit for 20 minutes, then come back to it with the rolling pin.

4. Cream together the butter, sugar and spices. Spread evenly over the rolled-out dough and sprinkle with the chopped nuts. (I had to make a little bit more of this mixture to cover the surface area of my dough.) Starting with the long side, roll the dough into a log. If the dough is too soft to cut, let it chill for 20 minutes. (Note: My dough was very soft, but I was too impatient to chill it.)

5. Preheat the oven to 350ºF. With a serrated knife, cut the log into 8 equal pieces and arrange over the pecans in the prepared, with the “swirled” edge facing upward. (Not sure what the “swirled” edge means — they were both swirled as far as I could tell?) Cover loosely with plastic wrap and allow to rest and rise 1 hour. Note: I basically just let my rolls rise for 20 minutes. As soon as the buns started filling up the pan, I popped the pan in the oven.

6. Bake buns about 40 minutes or until golden brown and well set in center. While still hot, run a knife around the inside of the pan to release the caramel rolls, and invert immediately onto a serving dish. If you let them sit too long, they will stick to the pan and be difficult to turn out.

cinnamon rolls


  1. soozzie says

    A million years ago I worked as a clerk in a college food service. Our baker was a great guy who showed me that ALL of his bread products– sweet, savory, pizza, flatbread, rolls of every type and shape and flavor, even a few cakes, olive cakes, coffee cakes and streusel cakes were made from the same dough, unchanged except by the way he shaped them and what he put on them. Since then I have had no fear about using dough for varying purposes. Sometimes a special dough is better, but for me, usually not enough to bother with. .

    • says

      So good to know this! It’s funny, because there was a German Bakery in San Clemente, CA, where I lived for 3 years, and I am remembering that they made cinnamon roll that was super moist and delicious and also made without butter/milk/oil/eggs/etc. The baker was so cute, and he never gave me a scientific explanation for why the rolls tasted so good, but simply said that if those ingredients weren’t necessary, why use them? I’m still dying to try the recipe with brioche, but I secretly hope it doesn’t turn out well.

  2. Jessica Rodriguez says

    I work at Bass Pecan Company every year they have a recipe contest for a chance to win $1000!
    If you love baking with pecans you should check it out. Check out their Bass Pecan Recipe Blog for great recipes and the contest rules and entry!!

    • says

      1. You are funny.
      2. I use a Canon Rebel xt. It has been great, and I have used it a lot in 3 years. It might be time for an upgrade, but if you’re looking for a basic SLR camera, this one is a good start.
      3. Yes, please, come be my neighbor!

  3. Dee Dee says

    Thanks for reminding me about ABin5. Pulled my copy down after at least a year up there on the shelf and made a batch. So easy. Caramel rolls for the weekend….

    You have a gorgeous food blog and I always enjoy your photos and recipes. The nectarine pizza remains a favorite in our home. (There’s something about a three year old asking for ‘more balsamic reduction, please.’)

  4. deb says

    For obvious reasons, I will try this recipe AFTER my daughter’s wedding. Until then, I will not look at it again to prevent temptation…..; (

  5. says

    Your cinnamon rolls look ah-mazing! I have tried the monkey bread recipe and it is wonderful and easy! In fact it is sitting in my fridge right now, ready to bake in the morning.

  6. says

    I make ABin5 bread a lot….about once a week. I am so happy to find this easy recipe! I am interested in making it as a “night-before” breakfast, and freezing or refrigerating it. If I freeze, should I thaw the rolls before baking, or just bake them longer at a lower temperature? thanks so much for your help….!

    • says

      Hi Lisa,

      I have been wanting to do this same thing. I love the idea of having the rolls assembled in my fridge and ready to pop in the oven. I have a few thoughts. I think you could definitely assemble the rolls up until the step that calls for letting them rise the final time before baking — in other words, get the rolls in the pan but do not let them rise for that final time. At this point, place the rolls in the freezer or fridge. When you want to bake them, if you’ve only refrigerated them, I would take them out of the fridge and let them be at room temperature for a couple of hours. You will want them to be at room temperature at the very least, and they probably should even be starting to make that final rise before you put them in the oven. And if you’ve frozen the rolls, I would let them thaw in the fridge overnight, and then let them sit at room temperature in the morning for a couple of hours as well. I hope this makes sense. Please write back if you have any more questions. And please write back if you make any discoveries. I would love to have some frozen rolls on hand, especially with the holidays quickly approaching!

  7. says

    These do look fabulous and sound delicious! I’ve also become a fan of these no knead breads, although in fact they do take quite a bit more time than 5 min (I also enjoy making bread the traditional way so for me, this is a way of making bread using less effort that ends up having a nicer crumb – texture – and tasting even better, because of the slow fermentation of the dough :-). I have a few books for these breads but will be trying this one ~ thanks!

    ~ marie, the EpicureanPiranha

  8. Carlie says

    I made these rolls last night for my son’s first day of 1st grade! I made the dough yesterday and rolled it out and put the pan in the fridge before I went to bed. I got up today to put them in the oven and they had done a rise in the fridge. They’re HUGE!!! Anyway, they look wonderful, but I think they won’t do so well in the fridge or freezer. That’s just my 2 cents. Love the pics by the way. Found you on Pinterest!

    • says

      Carlie — Thanks for your tip! I can imagine they were a little larger than desirable? I find that after I shape them, they are ready for the oven in only about 20 minutes, when the recipe calls for about an hour — I suppose many factors can affect rising time. Bummer, however, that the overnight rise is not ideal, because it would be so nice to have these on hand for a holiday morning or any morning really. Thanks again for your 2 cents!

      • JenMc says

        I’ve done these rolls every time overnight – as a mother of 3 little ones, it is the easiest way for me. I’ve had no problem with their rise, they’re a perfect size…

        I simply take them out and let them warm up for as long as it takes to preheat the oven – then let ’em bake for the 40 minutes – perfect every time!

  9. rose says

    these rolls are very good. i made them the night before and refrigerated them and them took them out of the refrigerator in the morning and let them set for 2 hrs. and they came out great.

  10. says

    Wow – amazing results with their master recipe/standard boule! I have made their challah before and it’s the BEST challah ever! I’ve actually thought of making cinn rolls with it but haven’t. If you are looking for a soft, croissant-like, fluffy bread to try in general, their challah rocks. I need to try their master recipe as cinn rolls now!

    • says

      Averie — I have made their challah, too, and I love it! I just always feel so guilty using so many eggs and butter, you know? But it definitely is worth it. And seriously, the results with their master boule recipe were unbelievable — and I made it on the dough’s last day in the fridge, so it had stored for awhile and still produced great results. Give it a go!

    • says

      Laura — these are wonderful, but if you are looking for a simpler, smaller-quantity-of-dough recipe, definitely try the Molly W rolls — I saw your comment over there too :)

  11. says

    I actually halved their challah recipe and used oil not butter. I am always a butter girl but in the bread, it keeps it sooooo soft. I posted about it but I only used 2 eggs and 1/4 cup oil and got 2 nice sized braids out of it! But I am sold on trying their master boule for the cinn rolls. Who knew!

    • says

      Averie — great tips! Thanks so much for your response. A halved recipe using oil not better makes the recipe much more appealing to me. I will check out your post. Did you use canola?

  12. Carol says

    Made the rolls the 1st time with your recipe. Still had dough left over so I experimented and substituted cream cheese for the butter in the filling adding a little more sugar and cinnamon. This will definitely be a favorite in our home.

  13. Miki says

    Thanks for the recipe. Having made both the challah dough and your recipe, I found the original recipe better. The rolls were much softer and tastier. If you wanted to cut down butter, you could reduce the caramel sauce? I think the butter dough is worth it!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *