These Sourdough Cinnamon Rolls are the perfect project. They come together super easily, are impossibly soft and fluffy, and are finished with a smooth cream cheese frosting.
Table of contents
- Sourdough Cinnamon Rolls
- Baked To Order by Ruth Tam
- Baking with a Sourdough Starter
- Steps for making Sourdough Cinnamon Rolls
- Sample Baking Timeline for Sourdough Cinnamon Rolls
- FAQ for Sourdough Cinnamon Rolls
- A few wee tips for making sourdough cinnamon rolls
- For more Cinnamon Roll Recipes, check out:
- Made this recipe and love it?
- A note on salt and oven temperature
- Why is this recipe in grams?
Sourdough Cinnamon Rolls
Hi! Just popping in to share the recipe for these Sourdough Cinnamon Rolls with you. These Cinnamon Rolls, like most sourdough recipes, do take a few days to come together. However the process is incredibly hands off, and the end product is WELL worth the wait. They are some of the softest cinnamon rolls I have ever had, and they are so satisfying to make!
Baked To Order by Ruth Tam
The recipe for these Sourdough Cinnamon Rolls comes from my friend Ruth's new book, 'Baked to Order'. Ruth and I have been internet friends for years now, and I was SO excited when she told me she was writing a book! Ruth's recipe writing is super meticulous and always so well explained, so I knew the recipes in this book would be nothing short of incredible.
Ruth is my go-to authority when it comes to sourdough baking. I tested out her everyday loaf from her book from her earlier this year, and have made it more than 20 times since. Her recipes are super easy to follow and written in a way that explains the process so, so well. There are plenty of sourdough recipes in the book I can't wait to try, but there are also some other amazing looking baking recipes in there too. The book is a must-own, in my opinion. Congrats, Ruth!
Baking with a Sourdough Starter
This recipe uses a stiff sourdough starter, which I hadn't worked with before. Lots of sourdough recipes use a starter at 100% hydration. The hydration of a dough or starter is calculated by the ratio of liquid to flour and is always calculated relative to the flour weight - so for example, for a starter to be at 100% hydration, it is fed with equal parts flour and water, for 85% hydration it means that the weight of the water is 85% the weight of the flour (so 85g water to 100g flour).
I maintain a starter at 100% hydration, and then just build the levain that the recipe asks for using some of that starter. Ruth does the same - the one she feeds every day is a 100% hydration, then uses it to build the levain for whatever recipe she is making.
This dough starts with a Stiff starter rather than a liquid one - you mix 100% hydration starter that is at it's peak with some bread flour and milk, to form a stiff dough, then leave it to rise until it has doubled and domed. I used a small glass jar for this and marked the level when I fed it so I could monitor the progress.
The stiff starter was super easy to make, and incorporated into the dough so nicely. It was super fun watching it puff up and be ready to use.
If you don't have a starter already, Ruth has a great guide on her site for starting your own, and a super adorable series in her Instagram highlights where her kids show you how to start a new one!
Steps for making Sourdough Cinnamon Rolls
There are a few steps in this recipe. Sourdough recipes take a bit more planning than traditional bread recipes - you have to plan out your timing a wee bit to make sure your starter is at peak at the right time. However this one is pretty flexible - the dough can hang out in the fridge for 8-24 hours, so you can assemble whenever suits you best.
- Feed your starter. I keep mine at 100%. It needs to be at peak when you build the levain so plan ahead.
- Build the levain. This is a stiff starter, so you mix together some starter, bread flour, and milk into a stiff dough and leave it for 8-12 hours (I left mine overnight)
- Autolyse the dough. This step lets the mix hydrate and the gluten starts to form.
- Add salt and start to mix. Salt is left out of the dough for the autolyse because it inhibits the starter a little, so it is added a bit later to allow the starter a wee bit of a head start. The dough is mixed until it starts to come together.
- Add the butter. The butter goes in a wee bit at a time, and is mixed until combined.
- Mix the dough. This takes a bit! I let mine go for 15 to 20 minutes, and it goes through phases where it looks like it won't ever come together, but it will! Have trust.
- Room temperature bulk - the dough is bulked at room temp, then transferred to the fridge for 8-24 hours. Note that it will only expand a little during this time, so don't worry if it doesn't look like anything is happening. Most of the rising happens when the rolls are assembled.
- Assemble the cinnamon buns - roll out the dough, add the filling, and roll up into a log, then cut into buns.
- Rise the buns - The cinnamon buns rise for about 8 hours at room temperature. During this time they will puff up loads. I proofed them in a little countertop oven on the proof setting, but a warm spot anywhere in your house will work great.
- Bake the buns - The buns bake at 400°f / 200°c for about 15 to 20 minutes.
- Finish with cream cheese frosting - you can either add a wee bit just after they come out and then the rest once cooled, or add it once the rolls are cooled.
Sample Baking Timeline for Sourdough Cinnamon Rolls
Here's a sample timeline for baking these. Remember that the temperature of your house will also affect rising time. If it's cold, look for a slightly warm spot to do the rise in, or increase your rise time by a wee bit.
- Day 1: Feed liquid starter, late morning to ensure it peaks that evening.
- Day 1: Build levain in evening, leave to sit 8-12 hours, overnight
- Day 2: Make dough early in the morning, leave to bulk at room temperature for 2 hours, then transfer to the fridge for 8 hours.
- Day 2: Just before bed, assemble cinnamon rolls and leave to proof at room temperature overnight.
- Day 3: Early morning, bake off cinnamon rolls and enjoy!
You can change this schedule to fit whatever you are working with - when I shot these I made the dough and then gave it overnight in the fridge, then assembled the buns SUPER early the next morning and left them to rise throughout the day, then baked them off early afternoon.
FAQ for Sourdough Cinnamon Rolls
You can make your own, or you can buy them online! My friend Amanda sells hers dried if you are in the States, or often you can go to a bakery and ask if they will give you some of theirs. If you have any friends who bake sourdough you can ask them for some too - you only need a tiny bit to start off, and you can then feed it for a bit until it is healthy and ready to go. You can't adapt this recipe to not use a starter, so make sure you have one ready to go before starting.
The dough for these is super soft, and SO lovely to work with. However, it does take a while to come together in the mixer. Don't freak out if it looks super sloppy. If you've made the recipe by weight, you'll be fine. It will come together, just give it some more time. Mine took about 15 minutes in the stand mixer to come together into a smooth ball.
I don't think so. Not this one - it needs a really long mixing time to bring the dough together, which a stand mixer does the best job at.
A few wee tips for making sourdough cinnamon rolls
- Remember to account for the time needed in this recipe. You need to feed the stiff levain, then bulk the dough at room temp and in the fridge, then assemble and wait again for another rise before baking these off. Check out my sample baking timeline for an idea of how I did it.
- Make sure your starter is at peak for when you build the levain. I fed mine about lunch time and then built the levain in the evening before bed.
- These are super soft and fluffy, and store well at room temp. If you are planning on storing them, keep the frosting separate. Zap the rolls quickly in the microwave, and then add the frosting!
- If you are baking these off in the morning, see if your oven has a delay timer start! I often set my oven to preheat while I am still sleeping, so in this case I would set it to start preheating at 5.30 so when I got up at 6.30 it was all ready to pop my cinnamon buns in to bake off.
For more Cinnamon Roll Recipes, check out:
Made this recipe and love it?
I would LOVE for you to leave me a review below to let me know how you liked it! Make sure to tag me on Instagram if you make it!
A note on salt and oven temperature
It is important to note the type of salt that is called for in a recipe. I use Diamond Crystal salt throughout my recipes - if you use a different sort of kosher salt or regular table salt you will need to adjust accordingly as some salt is 'saltier' than others. Morton's salt is twice as salty, so you will need half the quantity. Same goes for a regular table salt. I am working to get gram measurements throughout my recipes for salt but still getting there.
All oven temperatures are conventional unless otherwise stated. If you are baking on fan, you will need to adjust the temperature. An oven thermometer is a great investment to ensure that your oven is the correct temperature.
Why is this recipe in grams?
I post my recipes in grams as it is the most accurate way to bake. Cups are not only inaccurate but they vary in volume worldwide. There is no way for me to provide one cup measure that works for everyone. However, posting in weight fixes this issue. If you would like the recipe in cups you are welcome to convert it yourself via google, but please do not ask me to do it for you as I am not comfortable providing a recipe using a method that I have not tested. Baking with a scale is easy, accurate, and also makes cleanup super simple. Here is the scale that I use if you would like a recommendation! Here's to accurate baking!Print
Super Fluffy Sourdough Cinnamon Rolls
- Prep Time: 12 hours
- Cook Time: 15 minutes
- Total Time: 12 hours 15 minutes
- Yield: 9 large rolls 1x
- Category: Baking
- Cuisine: American
These Sourdough Cinnamon Rolls are the perfect project. They come together super easily, are impossibly soft and fluffy, and are finished with a smooth cream cheese frosting.
- 18g ripe sourdough starter at 100% hydration
- 31g whole milk
- 57g bread flour
- 125g bread flour
- 125g all-purpose flour
- 34g spelt flour
- 48g granulated sugar
- 21g milk powder
- 1 large egg
- 104g whole milk
- 88g heavy cream
- All the levain
- 7g kosher salt
- 45g unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 57g unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 100g light or dark brown sugar
- 1 tbsp ground cinnamon
- pinch of salt
Cream Cheese Frosting
- 90g cream cheese, at room temperature
- 56g unsalted butter, at room temperature
- ¾ tsp vanilla
- pinch of salt
- 68g powdered sugar
MAKE THE LEVAIN
- In a medium bowl, mix the starter, milk, and flour together to form a stiff dough. Cover the bowl and ferment the levain at room temperature until more than doubled in volume, puffy, and domed, about 8 to 12 hours.
MIX THE FINAL DOUGH
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook, mix together the flours, sugar, milk powder, egg, milk, cream, and levain until just combined. Cover and autolyse (rest) for 45 minutes.
- Add the salt and knead on medium-low speed until the gluten is moderately developed, about 5 minutes. The dough will start out sticky and rough but should gradually come together and feel quite smooth and stretchy.
- Turn the mixer to low and add the butter about 1 tablespoon at a time, incorporating each piece before adding the next.
- Turn the speed back up to medium-low and continue kneading until the gluten is very well developed and the dough passes the windowpane test, about 10 to 15 minutes. The dough should feel very soft and supple.
- Shape the dough into a smooth ball and transfer to a lightly oiled container. Cover and let rise at room temperature for 2 hours. The dough will be noticeably expanded but not doubled. Stretch and fold the dough, cover, and refrigerate for at least 8 hours and up to 24 hours.
SHAPE, PROOF, AND BAKE THE ROLLS
- When ready to shape, in a small bowl, cream together the butter, sugar, cinnamon and salt to form a spreadable paste. Lightly grease a 9x9 inch (23x23cm) square pan, or a 9 or 10 inch cake pan (preferably aluminium, I used a 10" cast iron skillet).
- Take the dough out of the fridge and transfer to a lightly floured surface. Roll into a 14 inch (36cm) square, doing your best to maintain an even thickness.
- Spread the filling mixture evenly over the dough, going all the way tot he edges.
- Roll the dough up like a jelly roll, pinching to seal. Turn the roll so the seam side is down.
- Cut into 9 even rolls using a sharp knife (I prefer a bread knife) or unflavoured dental floss. Transfer the rolls, cut side up, to the prepared pan, leaving space between each (they will grow into each other during proofing) Note: If you want them to rise and bake neatly, face the 'tail' of each bun to the middle, so they don't unravel while baking, and stay nice and neat, see pics for reference.
- Cover the rolls with a piece of lightly oiled plastic wrap. Proof at room temperature, about 74°f to 76°f (23°c to 24°c), until the dough is very puffy and roughly doubled, about 8 hours or overnight (see sample baking schedule)
- About 45 minutes before you're ready to bake, preheat the oven to 400°f (200°c) with a rack in the middle. Bake until the rolls are lightly golden and register 195°f to 200°f (91°c to 93°c) in the center, about 20 minutes.
CREAM CHEESE FROSTING
- While the rolls are baking, combine the cream cheese, butter, vanilla, and salt in a medium bowl and beat on medium speed until smooth. Add half the icing sugar and beat to combine. Add the remaining icing sugar and beat for 1 to 2 minutes, or until fluffy.
- Allow the rolls to cool on a wire rack before spreading with frosting (unless you are serving ahead of time, in which case frost when ready to serve).
This recipe was reprinted with permission from "Baked to Order" by Ruth Tam
"Stretch and fold" refers to a shaping technique that is usually used for building strength in the dough during bulk fermentation. To do this, wet your hands and life up the dough furthest away from you and pull up and fold it toward you. Turn the bowl 90 degrees and repeat again, performing a total of 4 stretch and folds.
Keywords: Sourdough, cinnamon rolls, sourdough cinnamon rolls, sweet sourdough, sourdough enriched dough
Thanks so much for including a schedule for these- it's super helpful.
Can't wait to try them!!
If I don't have spelt flour will whole wheat be an ok substitute?
I haven't tried it but I think it should be fine 🙂
Thank you again for making and sharing these! Wish I were biting into one right now. 🙂
Thank YOU for the amazing, amazing recipe! x
Do they taste tangy?
They aren't super super sour but you can tell they are sourdough!
I follow you now after seeing @rushyama mention that you were making these from her cookbook. I’ve made these twice, third time coming up for Christmas. Your directions were really helpful. Super yummy!
Oh yay I am so glad that you love them! x
Thank you! I look forward to making these for Christmas morning. Did you use non-fat milk powder or whole?
Hi! The stuff I have is whole but I am sure non-fat would work!
These turned out amazing. My husband hasn't stopped raving about them.
Thanks for such clear instructions and tips. I think they will become a favourite in our house.
Ahhhh so happy you loved! Thank you so much for the review!
Thank you for the recipe! I just made these and they’re delicious! I did alter the recipe to be dairy free (due to an allergy in the house) with swaps for all the milk (soy milk powder FTW) and butter and they still turned out really well. The dough was so soft and dreamy, I’m amazed.
Can you tell me why a lot of the filling leaked out during last proof? I rolled the dough thinner to form an 18" square prior to rolling up. Then I cut 2" rolls out. I placed all nine in a 9"x9" pan. They expanded in size but never touched fully together, some didn't touch at all. They did touch together when baked in oven though. Should I use a smaller pan or did something go wrong? I proofed at 73 degrees overnight.
Hi! It could have been the thinner dough so there wasn't as much to hold in the filling - if you rolled them up loosely then it could have let it leak out too! Because of the long rest some of it does come out but when I made them they didn't lose loads of filling. I hope that is helpful! Sorry they didn't work out as well for you!
My levain was slow to expand and at 8 hours was not how you described. So I left it overnight. It’s now been about 20 hours. Should I go forward or scrap it?
Hi! I wouldn’t move forward if the levain isn’t active. I would try building another and seeing how you go 🙂
I concur on the not moving forward if the levain isn't active...first time I made these, they were a knockout success but second time I had my doubts over the levain, and it bombed
I've made this recipe like four times now, I absolutely love it. It is so worth taking the time and putting in the effort!! Planning to adapt it into a lemon rolls recipe this weekend!
Yayyy! I keep meaning to make something else with the dough too because it is just DREAMY. I highly recommend ruth's book if you don't have it already!
SO GOOD!! I didn’t have spelt flour so swapped that out for whole wheat and it worked perfectly. I keep my ripe sourdough discard in the fridge after feedings so I used that (about a week old so I was worried about it’s activity) but it still came out SUPER fluffy and soft. Will be making these constantly now to use up discard.
What are your thoughts on freezing these at any point? After rolling them out maybe? Just curious if there is a way to have a batch on hand when you need in a pinch?
Hi! I don't know sorry as it's not my recipe but from other times I have made cinnamon rolls they don't freeze super well. I would freeze them baked then defrost and frost most likely
Hi Erin, I plan on making these this weekend. I live in brisbane and it’s pretty warm and humid here at the moment. Would it still be ok to do the final proof at room temp overnight? Could they over-proof? Thanks, Angie
Hi! Hmmm yeah they might over proof - I only made them in US winter! You could do them in the fridge overnight and then pull out and leave to keep rising? Or make the dough the night before and assemble early in the morning 🙂
Hi Erin, would u be able to suggest subs for the spelt flour and milk powder pls?
Hi! You can use whole wheat flour in place of the spelt, I am not sure about the milk powder though sorry as I haven't tried without
The levain has been out on my counter for 8 hours so far and hasn’t proofed at all? But my 100%hydration starter that I fed at the same time is more than doubled…should I start over?!?
Hi! Hmmm if it hasn't moved at all then yes I would start over!
These are amazing. I have tried so many sourdough cinnamon roll recipes, and while they were ok, I could take them or leave them. These are perfect. In fact they are so good I have adapted the recipe to make orange rolls. My family is absolute heaven. I make them a couple of times a month, one pan of orange rolls and one pan of cinnamon. I have been asked to double the recipe. The dough is so easy to work with, and very forgiving. I accidentally doubled the starter in the levain without doubling the other ingredients (late night math should NOT be attempted!) and didn't realize it until I went to make the dough and didn't have enough levain to double the recipe. Oops. Made a single batch and was worried the dough would explode with all that starter, but nope. Turned out perfectly. Love, love, love this recipe. Thank you so much for sharing. I am going to buy Ruth's book, too.
Yayyyy her book really is the best!