The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Alton Brown's Cinnamon Rolls Too Brown

BakerNewbie's picture

Alton Brown's Cinnamon Rolls Too Brown

I followed Alton Brown's "Overnight Cinnamon Rolls" recipe (I can't put link here apparently). Everything seems to have gone well (dough always doubled in size, etc.). Problem is when I cook it. The rolls come out dry, too brown, and crusty. Any suggestions what I can do?

Here are my thoughts:

  • Use margarine instead of butter
  • I've dropped the temp from 350F to  320F, but they still came out brown
  • Would adding gluten improve the texture and taste? I want something soft and chewy, like Cinnabon's
SylviaH's picture

and they took apx. 20mins. in my oven.  I followed the directions for the recipe.  I watch the rolls as they bake and if they are browning to fast I lower the temperature.  Try checking your oven to see if it's gauging the right temperature set.  This is a nice recipe and works out pretty nicely.   Maybe you are adding to much flour or letting the dough get dry while rolling the dough. Try adjusting your ovens temperature to have the rolls done and nicely browned by baking them no longer than apx. 20-25 minutes at the most.

These are the ones I just made recently.


My husband really liked these rolls.  If I want a moister crumb..I use a recipe that has potato added.  




BakerNewbie's picture

I'm reluctant to fiddle with the oven temperature during baking as I am not an experienced baker. I'll measure the temperature with a thermometer and see if my oven is too hot. Should I be using the oven's fan while baking this or not?

I don't think I added too much flour. I measured the flour in weight and followed the instructions closely. Also, I don't think I spent much time while shaping the dough. Plus, the dough was nice and moist after the final rise (thanks to the steam in the oven). 

How does potato make the crump moister? Doesn't that reduce gluten? I was under the impression that the bun would be moister if I added gluten.

By the way, how did your rolls compare to Cinnabon's? 

SylviaH's picture

If you are using your oven's 'convection' setting 'fan on' convection baking will brown breads faster.  Convection setting bakes about 15 to 25 degrees hotter than a regular oven setting...each oven varies.  It bakes bread at a higher temperature than a regular oven setting.  So if your recipe says to bake at 350F you should set your convection for about 15 to 25 degrees lower 325F convection.  If you are using your convection setting this might be why your buns are browning to fast.

I used King Arthurs all purpose flour.  Adding potato to a recipe doesn't really add much potato flavor but works nicely for making a tender, moist crumb.

Cinnabon's..oh my...the last time I tasted one it was very dense, had no rise at all to the crumb, I could taste an artifical chemical flavoring in the bread, just gross was my impression..did not come even taste like real bread and the cinnamon spear was just as gross.  My husband who also tasted the one we shared also had the same impression.  It's not difficult to make a far superior tasting cinnamon roll than these fast food mall buns.


BakerNewbie's picture

I'll try adjusting my oven's temperature some more, then.

When you add "potato", what exactly do you mean? Potato flakes for making mashed potatoes? Potato starch? Something else?

BakerNewbie's picture

Also, what is the protein content of your flour?

twinkermom's picture

I've made these several times in my convection oven, and they turned out perfectly.

BakerNewbie's picture

Hi TwinkerMom, how does your compare to Cinnabon? Also, how long did you knead your dough?

dabrownman's picture

are just gorgeous!!  Very professional roll up too.  I want one right now.......

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

Turning it down would help.  Don't be afraid to mess with temperatures when you think they are too hot.  Recipes are guides not rules carved in stone.  Ovens vary, kitchen temperatures vary and so does flour and altitude,  so some adjustments are needed from the "norm."   Being "new" is no excuse... but it works and you're allowed to "cook" one burnt batch per recipe.  Always good to test the recipe as written before making tweaks.

By the way, did you bake them in the middle of the oven or up on a top shelf?  This could make a big difference!  If you baked them in the upper half of the oven, move them down so that the top edge of the pan is dead center.  If you baked in a dark or black colored pan, try a shiny one next time.  They reflect more heat away from the food baking it slower.  If you tell me a glass pan was involved, oven is generally reduced by 20 - 25°F.  

If you use a fan, it is always wise to reduce the temperature unless the oven (digital) has an automatic temperature reducing function.  I stop the fan and let it stop turning before opening the door so I don't loose too much heat or cause large temperature swings during baking.  :)


FlourChild's picture

To take the guesswork out of this, check the internal temp of the buns with an instant-read thermometer. For a soft, enriched bread of this type they should only register about 180F-190F. If they are hotter than that, you've overbaked them either by time or temp.

If the internal temp is correct but they are browning too fast, then cover them with greased foil part way through the baking time.

Re: adding gluten, that won't make the breads moister. A higher protein flour (or vital wheat gluten) will absorb more moisture in the process of forming gluten, so a dough with higher protein needs more water. But the bread doesn't end up seeming moister.

Using less gluten, but leaving the water unchanged, will produce a moister dough because more of the water will be left out of the gluten forming process and be available in the dough.

BakerNewbie's picture

Any suggestions on what I can do to reduce the gluten? Should I use cake flour? Should I knead less? Won't this result in a dough that is wet and sticky -- and thus, harder to work with?

wallacs's picture


My suggestion would be to try the Pioneer Woman's Cinnamon Roll recipe instead.  It's super simple, foolproof, and makes the softest, most tender rolls I've ever made.


FlourChild's picture

To reduce gluten, you can use unbleached AP but I wouldn't go to a bleached cake or AP flour for a yeasted bread.  The best way to get more tenderness after going to an unbleached AP is to add cookied potato or more butter.  Rose Beranbaum has a sweet potato brioche in the Bread Bible that makes killer sweet buns, I like them filled with toasted pecans and chopped chocolate. :)

Window Coverings Tucson's picture
Window Covering...

They look like art! What did you use to cut them because when I cut mine it looked like I took a machete to them. 

I'm still confused on adding potato to moisten and I didn't see an explanation above?


Ti74Raven's picture

This may be a little late buuuut...

You wouldn't happen to be at high altitude would you? Above 3000 feet? Maybe even nearing 5000 like me?

If you are high altitude then adding liquid to the dough will make it harder to work with but bake nicer at altitude. High altitude causes faster evaporation which means your outside is gonna dry before the inside is done. Reducing your oven temps on breads can sometimes help for yeast products, but on cakes, quickbreads, and cookies you want to increase temperature at altitude.

There's also a lot of other things you can do to adjust for altitude, but adding a bit of moisture is an easy one to try. Doesn't have to be a lot either. about a tbsp/1000 feet above 3000.

jbaudo's picture

To make your rolls like the one's at Cinnabon's you will have to double or triple the amount of filling and icing that you use.  My mom used to make us cinnamon rolls and she never measured for the filling and they were oh so gooey - just like cinnabon's.  She always used brown sugar instead of (or in addition to?) white sugar and cinnamon and LOTS of butter.  Personally I don't like too much icing - just lots of filling!  Don't be afraid to turn your oven down.  Just remember YOU are the one in charge.  All the ovens I have ever had to use in my adult life have been at least 50 degrees hotter than they should have been (I bought an oven thermometer to check).  I never follow the temperature guidelines anymore.