Tag Archives: cinnamon rolls

Newsflash: Cinnamon Rolls Should Not Contain Baking Powder

16 Jul
cinnamon rolls

Look out, Dough Boy; I'm coming for you.

In an effort to save you from Strange and Unpronounceable ingredients, high fructose corn syrup and crappy food in general, I give you The Cinnamon-Buns-in-a-Cardboard-Tube.  I’m not giving them to you so you’ll actually eat them but so you won’t want to eat them (if you are currently a Fan) or to reaffirm your commitment to Real Cinnamon Rolls (if you already Eschew Tube Buns).  Thanks to Wegman’s, my go-to site for The Ugly Truth about ingredients in tons of different food-ish items, I now present unto you the ingredients for Pillsbury Cinnamon Rolls, with Icing:

Enriched Flour Bleached (Wheat Flour, Niacin, Ferrous Sulfate, Thiamin Mononitrate, Riboflavin, Folic Acid)–pretty standard.  I’m not saying it’s Best, mind you, but it’s just about what you’d find in national brands in the store
Partially Hydrogenated Soybean and/or Cottonseed Oil–I guess depending on what truck shows up first that day
Dextrose–More sugar. Yay.
Wheat Starch–I assume to thicken…something.
Baking Powder (Sodium Acid Pyrophosphate, Baking Soda)–Sodium Acid Pyrophosphate is Generally Recognized As Safe (GRAS).  Yes, it’s a real label that means “nobody has died from it.  That we’ve heard about.”  For a listing of all GRAS ingredients since 1998, please check this out.  Truly riveting reading.  Oh, and guess who gets to decide what is GRAS?  The company that produces the Ingredient in Question.  Sweet.
Whey–faux milk
Cinnamon–Num yummy

*I’m Putting the Break between Bun and Goo here, because I think that this is where the bun stops and the goo begins.  I’m not sure, though.  They could’ve thrown some corn starch in with the buns, too.

Corn Starch–I assume to thicken the icing
Corn Syrup Solids–sweetener (corn syrup with almost all of the water spun out of it)
Mono and Diglycerides–emulsifiers and preservatives
Xanthan Gum–Another thickener
Potassium Sorbate (Preservative)
Polysorbate 60
–Another emulsifier
Artificial Flavor–because Mono and Diglycerides taste icky.
Yellow 5 and Red 40–because everyone wants orange icing on their cinnamon buns

You know, after reading back over the icing ingredients, the only “real” ingredient is Corn Syrup Solids.  All the other stuff is to thicken it or preserve it or hold it together or color it.  Nice.  But I’m not here to talk about the icing.  I wanna talk about the buns Themselves.  Let’s arrange those ingredients in a way that makes some sort of sense:

Water-Type Liquids

  • water
  • whey


  • Partially hydrogenated some-kind-of-oil, depending on the delivery schedule


  • Bleached, enriched white flour
  • Wheat Starch


  • Sugar
  • Dextrose


  • Baking powder


  • Salt
  • Cinnamon

I don’t know about you, but in my book, a Doughy Item raised with baking powder is either a biscuit (scone) or a quick bread.  And also in my book, a cinnamon roll should be made with an enriched yeast-raised dough. Period.  My blog; my book.  I’m willing to bet, though, that you think of cinnamon rolls in the same way.  What Pillsbury is selling us is some kind of biscuit-ish item topped with preserved, colored and emulsified-to-within-an-inch-of-its-life corn syrup solids.  Num Yummy.

Back away from the colorful Tube of Doom.  Yes, I know that it’s fun to WHACK the can on the edge of the counter, but dang, people.

“But they’re so easy to make.” “But I don’t have time to make real cinnamon rolls.” “I can’t bake.” Okay, I hear you.  Let me Respond to each of these excuses.

1) Just because it’s easy doesn’t mean you should make them.  Anybody can learn to make meth, although it’s not Generally Recognized As Safe.

2) Make the time.  It’ll be fun.  Or ask a friend to make them for you.  A little wheedling is a small price to pay for Freshly Baked Goods.

3) That’s what your oven is for, silly.

Now that I’ve hopefully talked you out of whacking and baking the contents of the Tube of Doom, let’s make some Real Cinnamon Buns with real ingredients.  Let’s do it now.

No-Tube Cinnamon Rolls

  • 4 egg yolks
  • 1 whole egg
  • 2 oz sugar
  • 3 oz melted butter
  • 6 oz buttermilk
  • 20 oz AP flour
  • 3/4 oz fresh yeast (1/4 oz dried)
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons salt

You can make this dough using the Straight Dough Method.  That means that you can just dump everything in the mixing bowl of your stand mixer and Let Her Rip.  Make sure your yeasties are alive and kicking before you do this:  proof a little bit in some warm water with a pinch of sugar.  If the water gets foamy and/or bubbly, you’re good to go.

If you don’t have a stand mixer, whisk the salt, dry yeast and the flour together.  Mix all the other ingredients in, and then add the flour, stirring and stirring, until you have a soft/sticky dough.  Since the dough will be sticky, it’ll be kind of a pain to knead, so use your bench scraper to help you.  Knead and knead until the dough is nice and smooth and springy.

Shape the dough into a ball and tighten it by pushing it in small circles on your counter top.  Why?  Because tightening the gluten skin/matrix around the outside of the ball of dough promotes an even rise.

Place the dough, lovely rounded side down in a greased bowl, then flip the dough so the lovely rounded side is up.  That way, the whole thing will be greased.  Why?  Because this prevents a skin from forming (the outside from drying out) on the ball of dough.  If a skin Happens, it’ll impede your rise.

Cover the dough with a cloth and let rise until doubled.  Since there’s a lot of fat in this dough, it’ll take a long time.  Fat hinders yeast Action.  Count on at least a couple of hours.

You can also cover the bowl with plastic wrap and put it in the fridge for several hours or overnight.  This’ll free up some time for you, and the slow, cold rise will help develop some complex flavors in the dough.  If you do that, you can go ahead and roll it out while it’s still cool.  It’ll be easier to handle.

Once your dough has doubled in size, plop it out on a lightly greased or oiled surface (adding more flour will just toughen it), press out all the gases, and knead a couple of times to redistribute the yeast.  Roll out into a large, even rectangle–keep the dough at around 1/4″ thick.

Then, spread on a mixture of Goo of Choice

Goo of Choice should include

  • softened (not melted) butter
  • some sort of sugar(1:2 butter to sugar works well)
  • cinnamon, to taste
  • salt, to taste

Goo of Choice can include

  • orange zest
  • raisins/currants/other dried fruits
  • crystallized ginger
  • other spices–don’t limit yourself to just cinnamon
  • a little espresso powder
  • mini chocolate chips
  • a little cayenne
  • toasted chopped nuts
  • crushed red hots
  • a couple of drops of cinnamon oil

Take the goo you come up with, and spread it Rather Liberally all over your dough rectangle, leaving about 1 1/2″ clear on one end and about an inch clear on the sides.

Roll up the dough into a snug-but-not-tight cylinder.  Seal the seam by pinching.  Cut off the uneven ends.  Make sure you bake those, too–cook’s treat.  Cut the rest of the cylinder into 1 to 1 1/2″ pieces.  You can either use a sharp serrated knife or a piece of dental floss.  Just stick the floss under the log o’ dough, pull up the ends, cross and pull, thus slicing right through the log.  Magical.

Now, you have a couple of choices.  If you like the browned outsides of cinnamon rolls, place them on a parchment-lined baking sheet about 1 1/2″ apart. If you like your cinnamon rolls to be all soft and inside-ish, put them in a buttered baking dish with sides and place them about 1/2″ apart.  If your pan is too big for the number of rolls you have, make a fake pan side with some heavy duty aluminum foil and hold it in place with an appropriate-sized oven-safe implement.  Metal cutter/spatulas/clean, empty cans–whatever.  Either way you like them, cover with a towel and let rise until poofy-but-not-doubled–about 45 minutes or so.

Bake at 350F until nicely risen and golden brown.  Your oven is most likely different than my oven, so start checking at about 20 minutes.  If one side seems to be browning more than the other, turn the pan.  Just to be sure, use a Thermapen or instant read thermometer to check the internal temperature of the Middle Bun.  It’s done if it’s at least 190F and up to about 205F.

Let cool to warm, and then Apply Icing.

Icing #1

  • confectioners’ sugar
  • pinch of salt
  • splash of vanilla
  • pinch of cinnamon
  • milk or cream

Mix everything together until you have a smooth, thick glaze.  Drizzle–or pour–onto warm buns.

Icing #2

  • Equal parts butter and cream cheese
  • pinch of salt
  • splash of vanilla
  • pinch of cinnamon
  • confectioners’ sugar
  • milk or cream

Cream the butter and cream cheese together.  Add the salt, vanilla and cinnamon.  Add confectioners’ sugar until you reach Frosting Consistency.  If you want, thin it out with a little milk or cream.  Slather on warm buns.

Of course you can add whatever you want to your icing.  Leave the cinnamon out, if you want.  Add some zest.  Use a little lemon extract.  It’s your party.

And I think that’s all I have to say about that right now.  Now go make some Real Cinnamon Rolls with Real Ingredients.  Looks like you stocked up on Polysorbate 60 for nothing.

PS Cinnamon Rolls are NOT diet foods.  They are high in fat, high in sugar and are Extremely Addictive.  Make and eat at your own risk.  Of course, they’re practically celery sticks coated with wheat bran compared to what’s in the Tube of Doom…

*Update:  Oh, my–I just thought of this:  what if all those ingredients are for the buns and the goo ingredients aren’t even listed?!  That makes the second half of the list (plus the cinnamon) be part of the swirl! Dear Lord, the horror.

Ask And Ye Shall Receive

29 Dec
Beautiful cinnamon rolls--but it's not all fun and games.  Oh, no.

Beautiful cinnamon rolls--but it's not all fun and games. Oh, no.

Hello, all!  I have missed you and this blog.  I made myself stay away over the Christmas “break” so the Beloved and I could have lots of quality Winter Wonderland time.  Mission accomplished.  Plus, we’ve finished Dexter, Season 1!  I hope everyone had a lovely holiday, and thank you for all of your well wishes in the Comments section. I really appreciate your taking the time to read and comment.

Before the break, I asked for questions.  I asked, and you responded.  Faithful reader Jo has a question about cinnamon rolls.   “I have a question about Cinnamon rolls.  I made them like I do every year however, for some reason they were different. Some were drier, tough and light with a lot of holes but tough. I thought I may have cooked them too long but think it maybe a combo of things. I used new pans they were 10 inc deep dish pizza pans. Maybe that was the problem. I didn’t add too much flour or knead them to much or hard. I may have let them raise to long the first time. I’m not sure.”

I’m going to answer Jo, now, but please feel free to listen in.  Without seeing the recipe and knowing the exact procedure used to put these little guys together, it’s almost impossible to pinpoint what could have gone kerflooey with them, but I can talk in generalities.  You are probably correct that it was a combination of factors.  The first thing that comes to mind is that maybe you changed brands of flour.  If you changed from a brand with a lower protein content to a brand with a higher protein content, the dough would have absorbed more liquid and left you with a drier product.  It also sounds like you might have left out some fat or sugar in the dough.  It happens.  I can tell you from tragic personal experience that pound cake made without sugar is Not Good.  Either some butter and/or some sugar helps to tenderize dough, which is especially nice for gooey cinnamon rolls.  If you inadvertently left out one or the other (or both), you would have been left with a tough, drier roll.  I doubt that the pan has too much to do with it in this case–the issue would have been over- or under-browning if the pans were the culprits.

The rise could be an issue, but wouldn’t necessarily explain the dryness.  Underkneaded conventional breads tend to be denser and have a coarser crumb, but they aren’t necessarily drier than their well-kneaded cousins.  As far as letting them rise too long, unless it was hours and hours too long, that shouldn’t have hurt them, either.  Yeast dough is generally fairly forgiving, so 30 minutes over or under, especially on the first rise, shouldn’t have made a difference.

Since I can’t definitively answer your question, I will ask a whole bunch of questions (well, five) to see if we can pinpoint where things went wrong.  For those of you who are not Jo and are reading along, these are questions you should ask yourselves whenever you have an end product that is off in some way.

  1. What is the exact recipe, and what were the exact ingredients you used?
  2. Could you have accidentally left out an ingredient?
  3. What is the exact procedure?
  4. Did you follow the procedure correctly?
  5. Does your oven run hotter or colder than the thermostat says?

So, Jo, I hope I’ve helped a little.  If you still can’t think of why your rolls sort of went South this year, answer the Five Questions of Truth, and I’ll see if I can help to nail it down for you.

Another faithful reader, Don, asked a very straightforward question that I can answer in one word.  But, it’s a question many people have, so I will use a lot of words in answering.  Don wants to know if I use a gas or an electric oven.

I use an electric oven.  Many people like electric ovens and gas ranges.  That’s why there are a lot of “dual-fuel” range/oven combos out there.  I think it’s totally a personal choice.  Whether you have a gas oven or an electric oven, or whether you’re in the market for a new one and are trying to decide, the most critical factors should be accuracy and consistency.  Ovens cycle off and on during baking, much like your AC or heating unit cycles off and on to maintain a comfortable temperature in your home.  During these cycles, the oven can be as much as 25 degrees cooler or warmer than the target temperature, but the average should be pretty dead on.

Get yourself a good oven thermomter and check your oven.  Check it a few different times.  Most ovens have hot and cool spots, so check the temp in the front, back, top and bottom of your unit.  If your oven runs true to temperature, yay for you.  That is a good thing.  Leave the thermometer in there, or at least check it periodically anyway, though, since the calibration can get thrown off.

Unless your oven has stopped cycling off and on, there’s no real need to have the oven calibrated, especially if you have a thermometer.  Just set the oven to the correct temperature according to the thermometer, not the thermostat.

Here’s another question that many people have:  Is a convection oven better than a standard oven?  The answer is, “It depends.”  Many manufacturers tout the ability of the convection oven to assist in even browning.  I’m here to tell you, not so much.  Even the commercial convection ovens I’ve used routinely brown one side of whatever-you’re-making more than the other.  In other words, if you were hoping not to have to rotate your cookie sheets, you’re out of luck. I will say that they can reduce cooking time, sometimes drastically, and that can be a bonus, especially if you’ve got a lot to cook and only one oven to cook it in.   I’ve also noticed that my flaky biscuits rise much better in a convection oven.

If you do a lot of work with puff pastry, know that the convection oven can wreak havoc with small puff shells.  If the fan is on high, your cute little puff shells will come out looking like Slinky Toys.  Also, your muffins will come out with ski slope tops instead of nice peaks.  The fan can blow your peaks off to one side.  I’ve seen muffins whose peaks were blown so far over to one side that they weren’t technically on the muffin anymore.  The peaks baked beside the muffins.  Very sad.

So, here’s the rule.  If you want a convection oven, try to find one that has an adjustable fan–ideally high, low and off.

So that’s it for now, friends.  Loyal reader Cindy sent me a recipe for pound cake.  She says it is The Best, but that sometimes she has issues with removing it from the pan.  I shall be making said cake and reporting back to you all sometime soon.  And, as always–if you have specific questions or just want to learn more about a specific comment, please leave a comment or shoot me an email at pastrychefonline at yahoo dot com.  Otherwise, I will continue to hold forth on Random Pastry and Baking Topics or on Products That I Do Not Like.  Who knows, maybe I’ll even write about Products That I Like a Very Lot.

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