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Sourdough cinnamon rolls
Getty Images/RyanJLane

Sourdough cinnamon rolls

A sweet treat that’s fun for kids to make and eat.

With my recent foray into the world of sourdough, it’s becoming harder and harder to deflect accusations of tradwifery. Watch out, Ballerina Farm. Your implicit right-wingedness is about to be made explicit.

Anyway, my kids and their friends love this recipe. It’s sure to please, but be sure to keep an eye on them while in the oven, and test to make sure the center is baked through. For whatever reason, my sourdough experimentation has taught me to watch carefully toward the end of the baking process. My theory: Each starter is alive and thus relatively hard to predict.

This surprised me about sourdough. Catherine Pakaluk recently brought to my attention that sourdough is a rich metaphor for motherhood. Much like the common life, proscriptive principles provide something of a foundation for the novice baker, but knowing the unique texture and readiness of what’s actually in front of you calls for a sense of particularity and prudence. I love that idea. It’s obsessing me at the moment.

You’ll need to let this dough sit overnight, so begin this process the evening before you want cinnamon rolls.


Sweet dough

  • 2/3 cup buttermilk
  • 6 tbsp unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 tsp of vanilla extract
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 to 3/4 cup bubbly, active sourdough starter
  • 4 tbsp granulated sugar
  • 3 cups King Arthur all-purpose flour
  • 1 tbsp salt

Cinnamon-sugar filling

  • 3 tbsp butter, softened
  • 1 tbsp maple syrup
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 3 tbsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 level tbsp flour


  • 2 tbsp unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/3 cup cream cheese, room temperature
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup powdered sugar
  • 1–2 tbsp heavy cream

Make the dough

  1. In the evening: Combine the melted butter, vanilla extract, and buttermilk in a bowl. Cool slightly before using.
  2. Add the eggs, sourdough starter, and sugar to the bowl. Mix to combine. Slowly pour in the milk mixture as you are mixing it in (this can be done with or without a stand mixer). Add the flour and salt. Continue mixing until a rough, sticky dough forms. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. Cover with a damp towel and let rest for 30 minutes.
  3. After the dough has rested, knead until the dough is soft, supple, and pulls away from the sides of the bowl when ready. If it’s too sticky, add flour until you reach desired consistency.

Bulk rise

  1. Transfer the dough to a medium-size bowl coated in butter or tallow (or even olive oil, if that’s all you have). Cover with plastic wrap. Let rise overnight until doubled in size, about 8-12+ hours at 67-68 F, depending on temperature.
  2. (optional) To aerate the dough, about 30 minutes to one hour into the bulk rise, stretch and fold the dough. Grab a portion of the dough and stretch it upward; fold it over toward the center of the bowl. Give the bowl a 1/4 turn; repeat. Do this until you’ve come full circle around the bowl (four folds total).

Roll the dough

  1. In the morning: Grease a 9-inch springform pan, pie tin, or cast iron skillet with preferred oil (butter or tallow work too).
  2. Lightly oil and flour your countertop to prevent sticking. Coax the dough out of the bowl. Gently pat into a rough rectangle. Let rest for 10 minutes for easier rolling.
  3. Dust the dough (and your rolling pin) with flour. Roll the dough into a 16 x 12-inch rectangle. If the dough resists, let rest for 5-10 minutes and try again.

Make the cinnamon-sugar filling

  1. Whip together all the ingredients for the filling.
  2. Cover the entire surface of the dough, including the top, bottom, and sides with the filling mixture. If too viscous, add more maple syrup.

Shape & cut the dough

  1. Starting on the long side of the dough, roll it into a log, pressing down gently as you go. Take your time; the log needs to be airtight so the swirls stay intact. You should end up seam side down. TIP: If the dough starts to get sticky from the heat of your hands, lightly oil or flour your fingertips.
  2. Cut the dough into 2-inch sections using an oiled knife or dental floss.

Second rise (optional)

  1. Place the rolls into the greased pan and let rest for 1- 2 hours or until the dough puffs up. You could also freeze at this point for future use.

Bake the cinnamon rolls

  1. Preheat oven to 350 F.
  2. I learned from TikTok that if you add heavy cream in between the cracks of raw cinnamon rolls before they go into the oven, they will come out super delicious and moist. This works! For even more deliciousness, you could melt cutter and maple syrup and drizzle over the tops before putting them in the oven.
  3. Place the pan onto the center rack and bake for 45 minutes (check at the 30-minute mark). If you added heavy cream at the end, bake time may be longer.
  4. Remove from the oven and let cool.

Make the glaze

  1. While the rolls are baking or cooling, make the glaze. Whip all glaze ingredients until smooth, thinning out the consistency with a little heavy cream as needed. The ingredients must be soft and at room temperature for best results.
  2. After the rolls have cooled, top them with some of the glaze or lightly dust with powdered sugar.

I adapted this recipe based on one by the Clever Carrot. Enjoy!

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Helen Roy

Helen Roy

Staff Writer

Helen Roy is an opinion contributor for Blaze News and a staff writer for Align. She is also a contributing editor at the American Mind, host of the podcast “Girlboss, Interrupted,” and a fellow at the Claremont Institute for Political Philosophy.
@helen_of_roy →