No. 328: Athena's Cinnamon Rolls

Have I mentioned I won the sister-in-law jackpot?

Athena is sweet, bubbly, responsible, kind, pushes my brother to be his best self, laughs a lot, is a professional chef ...

That's right. A pro. In my family. And her speciality is baking.


Cinnamon Rolls

Mr. McC and I started a Christmas morning tradition of cinnamon rolls and mimosas our first married holiday together. It was our first big tradition that we formed just the two of us, and we've held tight to it ever since. It's even more special now that our little ones have joined us and they can grow up with it as well.

In the past I have reached for the Pillsbury pre-made version with no guilt. It's just the two of us, after all. But this year I enlisted the family's professional baker to help make fresh, wonderful ones for the whole crew. This is her amazing recipe.

Note: I realize this is SUPER LATE and well past Christmas, but I didn't get the recipe until last week. So here you go:)


Makes two 9x13 pans of cinnamon rolls

1 quart whole milk
1 cup vegetable oil
1 cup granulated sugar
2 packages dry active yeast
8 cups (plus 1 cup extra, reserved) all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon (heaping) baking powder
1 teaspoon (scant) baking soda
1 tablespoon (heaping) salt

Plenty of melted butter about 2 sticks (My SIL likes to add 1-2 teaspoons vanilla which we highly recommend)
2 cups sugar
3-4 tablespoons cinnamon

1 bag powdered sugar
2-4 teaspoons vanilla or 2 teaspoons maple extract
1/2-3/4 cup warm milk (start with less then add as needed)
1/4 cup (1 stick) butter, melted
Dash of salt

To make

Start the dough. Heat milk, sugar and oil in a heavy bottomed pan over medium heat to just before a boil. Set aside and let cool to warm. Then, sprinkle the yeast on top and let sit for 1 minute.

Add 8 cups of flour. Stir to just combined then cover with kitchen towel or plastic wrap. Set in warm place and let rise for 1 hour.

In a small bowl mix 1 cup flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Then add to dough mix. Stir or hand mix thoroughly.

Use the dough right away or refrigerate for up to 3 days. Punch down if it rises to the top of bowl. Note: The dough is easier to work with if it has been refrigerated for at least an hour.

When ready to proceed, flour a large work surface and rolling pin. Work with half the dough at a time. Roll out to large rectangle.

Pour a generous amount of butter over the dough rectangle then sprinkle a generous amount of the cinnamon/sugar mix. Beginning at top end, start rolling towards the dough in a spiral toward you as you move down.

Keep the roll tight. Don’t worry if filling oozes out, it just means they are going to be amazing. Roll into log and pinch dough together at end and then roll over so that the seam is on bottom.

Cut roll ever 1/2 to 3/4 inch and place 'rolls' in a 13x9 greased pan. Cover rolls with towel for 20 minutes before baking at 375 degrees. Bake for 15-18 minutes.

Drizzle icing over rolls after they have cooled for a few minutes. Serve warm.

The results

This was Christmas morning, so I have no photos. But let me tell you, these are phenomenal cinnamon rolls and quite simple in the grand scheme of things.

We prepped the dough and rolls on Christmas Eve afternoon and then popped them in the fridge covered in plastic wrap overnight. I let them come to room temperature before baking them on Christmas morning.

I also threw a sheet pan full of pepper crusted bacon in with these rolls to bake. In the end, it was an incredible game time decision. The fatty, salty, peppery bacon was the perfect accompaniment to the sweet and sugary rolls.

We made two FULL 13x9 pans of cinnamon rolls and had no problem finishing both pans by the end of the day on December 26th. All in all, a delicious way to start (and end) the Christmas holiday.

Check out a full index of recipes here
Send me your thoughts, comments and ideas at

Amelia McCormick

Kansas girl transplanted to Asheville, North Carolina. Smiler, lover of great food and wine, facilitator, runner, storyteller, wife, optimist, and mother of sweet twins:)

Asheville, North Carolina