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Billowy Sourdough Cinnamon Rolls with Cream Cheese Icing

mountaindog's picture

Billowy Sourdough Cinnamon Rolls with Cream Cheese Icing

I was inspired from Teresa at her Northwest Sourdough website to try her sourdough cinnamon rolls pictured there, but the closest actual written recipe I could find to that was her Festive Hawaiian Roll recipe. After studying a lot of other sweet dough recipes and brioche recipes, I decided to make a hybrid dough with what I thought were the best aspects of each, that would also use only sourdough starter as the leavening agent. The main differences from NWSD's recipe is my addition of eggs and buttermilk, plus I added 4 times the amount of butter, bringing the butter content up to 11%, which is still not as high as many sweet doughs and not nearly as high as brioche.

This recipe will make about 16-24 large and airy, but rich and tender Cinnamon Rolls. We don't like excess cinnamon flavor in our rolls and so use about half the amount of cinnamon usually called for in the filling of similar recipes. We are also not *fond* of white fondant glaze, so I made up this cream cheese/buttercream glaze to provide a more flavorful topping that complements the flavor of the rolls well. I also did not use any nuts in these, but they could also be added to the filling if desired.

Beware of these rolls: Due to the potato and buttermilk in the dough, these are by far the richest, most moist, tender, and flavorful cinnamon rolls we've ever had, the dough itself is fragrant with vanilla and butter, it almost does not need the filling or icing. The sourdough made these extraordinarily airy and puffy with no commercial yeast added. Because these are so rich, they will be reserved for special occasions or special visitors in our house, they are far too addictive to keep around otherwise. Because they are also so light and billowy - similar to a good sourdough waffle, they are not overly filling and heavy in your stomach.

The total preparation time is about 36 hours to allow for the long cool ferments. If you want to serve these rolls on a Sunday morning, you need to build the levain the preceding Friday evening.

Approx. 12 hours before making the final dough, build the levain as follows:

Levain Build:

grams          Item
150       100% hydration sourdough starter, recently fed and ripened
340       Lukewarm water
340       AP flour
850       Total Wt.

Let this mixture sit at room temperature until doubled (usually overnight, if your starter is fast and the levain is active early, keep it in the frig. until ready to make dough). Meanwhile, make a small amount of mashed potato by boiling or microwaving (covered) 1 medium peeled & sliced potato in a little water until soft. Mash with fork and a little milk until smooth.

Final Dough:

grams     Item
113       1 stick Unsalted butter, softened
225       3 large eggs
42        1 ½ TBSP Honey
24        2 TBSP Vanilla Extract
130       Mashed potato
195       ¾ c. Buttermilk or whole milk
850       Levain
700       AP flour
21        Salt
2300       Total Wt.

Once levain is ripe, make the final dough. First cream the softened (not melted) butter by hand or in mixer with paddle attachment, then beat in eggs, honey, vanilla, and mashed potato and continue mixing. Stop to scrape down sides of bowl with spatula as needed and continue to mix just until well-blended. Switch to dough hook and add buttermilk and levain until blended, then gradually add flour and salt and continue mixing with dough hook until well-blended. Scrape down sides of bowl with spatula, cover, and let rest 20 min. After rest, uncover and continue to mix with dough hook another 2-3 minutes (or by hand, fold in bowl with plastic bowl scraper for 3 min.). This will be a very soft, sticky dough, around 71% hydration if you count the liquid from eggs and milk, but not counting the butter.

Place the dough into a container sprayed with cooking oil, cover, and bulk ferment in a cool location (55-65F) until doubled, approx. 8-12 hours depending on temperature and how fast a riser your starter is. Every few hours, give the dough a stretch and fold, for a total of about 2 folds.

Meanwhile, make the filling as follows:


grams       Item
170       1 ½ sticks Unsalted butter, softened
85        Cream or half&half
300       Dark brown sugar
180       Raisins
3         1 ½ tsp. Cinnamon
12        1 TBSP Vanilla extract
750       Total Wt.

For the filling, add all above ingredients to a medium sized saucepan and bring to a low boil over medium heat while stirring. As soon as the mixture boils, take off heat and chill to a spreadable consistency before using.

After dough has doubled, divide it into 2 pieces on a flour-dusted surface (it may be sticky even though the butter should be solid from the cool temps), then roll out each piece of dough into a rectangle shape about 10 x 16 inches across. Spread the filling across each rectangle of dough, leaving 1 inch clean where the outer seam edge of the roll will be and then taking the opposite edge, roll up the dough gently but firmly and seal the seam.

Slice each log into 8 or 12 rolls (depending on how big a rectangle you rolled out and how large you want the rolls to be) with serrated knife and place them just barely touching each other on baking parchment on sheet pan. Don't worry if log gets flattened as you slice each roll, you can straighten them out once placed on the sheet pan, and they should rise very high and straighten out when proofing. Spray tops of rolls lightly with cooking spray, cover with plastic wrap, and slowly proof rolls overnight or up to 12 hrs. in the refrigerator or cool place between 45 and 55F until the dough is about doubled and puffy looking. Bake right out of frig. at 400 degrees for about 25-35 minutes until light golden, or until the center of dough registers about 195-200F on instant-read thermometer. Do not let the rolls get very brown. Melt about 4 TBSP of butter in microwave and as soon as rolls are out of oven, brush them with the melted butter to keep crust soft before icing them.

Here are the rolls right out of oven and after being brushed with butter, they had a great amount of oven spring and rose tremendously during the bake:

While rolls are baking, make a glaze/icing as follows:

Cream Cheese Glaze:

grams       Item
56        ½ (4 TBSP) stick Unsalted butter, softened
56        4 TBSP. Cream cheese
165       ¾ c. Confectioner's sugar
65        ¼ c. Milk, whole
2         ½ tsp. Vanilla extract
344       Total Wt.

Microwave the butter and cream cheese together until very soft but not melted. Whisk them together while adding the vanilla, powdered sugar, and enough milk to thin out the icing to a drip-able consistency.

Let the rolls mostly cool before glazing them with icing. Dip a wire whisk in the icing and drizzle across surface of each roll in crisscross pattern. Serve and enjoy.

(NOTE: I've not yet tried this, but it should also be possible to chill the un-sliced logs in frig overnight and slice just before baking, or freeze the logs for up to 1 month, take out the night before baking and defrost in frig. Next morning, remove from frig., slice, and let warm up at room temp about 1-2 hours before baking.)

It's a good thing we had a house full of guests this past weekend to help us put away not only the cinnamon rolls, but also these Vermont Sourdough boules, and cherry-sunflower-seed levains.



SylviaH's picture


Your rolls are lovely and by your discription I'm left drooling all over my keyboard!!...we have a real weakness for cinnamon rolls around my home.  Your breads are all so lovely and your guests were thrilled!

The recipe site you were at is her Blog another site...  you will find the free original recipe at the you have to scroll down and then you will see it...or go directly to the recipe at ...


mountaindog's picture

Thanks Sylvia - your beautiful sourdough cinnamon rolls you made last month gave me the craving! I did see that recipe on NWSD's main site, but I don't think that dough recipe is what she actually used when making those Hurricane rolls, because she mentions the mashed potato, so I figured it was her Hawaiian roll dough adapted. I wanted to try using mashed potato as I know that would increase the tenderness, but I also wanted to use eggs and butter, so I sort of improvised.

Yes, the guests loved them, they hit the spot, their appetites were huge after two full days sledding in our field and skiing.

trailrunner's picture

Those are fabulous ! What a talent you have. I am going to make these for sure when we next have company. I don't trust myself otherwise ! Also where is the recipe for the cherry sunflower bread? Thank you Caroline

mountaindog's picture

Thanks Caroline, the cherry sunflower is just a modification of the cherry pecan bread I wrote about here. I was going to use pecans and I accidently let the last ones I had on hand get burnt when toasting them, so had to toss them out for the deer (I forgot how fast that oven heats up when no baking stone is in it...). I didn't have any other nuts on hand so just tossed in some raw sunflower seeds.

MikeC's picture


I can smell those cinammon rolls from here! (HaHa)  They look absolutely fantastic, as do your breads.  I can see hanging around here with you guys is going to be bad for my waistline, but sooooo worth it.

Floydm's picture

Hi mountaindog,

These look delicious!  Would you mind if I featured them on the homepage?

mountaindog's picture

Hi Floyd - of course, I'd be flattered, as always...thanks!

LindyD's picture

They're beautiful and look very luscious, Mountaindog.

I've got a cholesterol screening coming up soon, so I think I better put these on my "to be baked" list for now.  

Drats...I'm salivating at the sight of them...

Baker007's picture


Moriah's picture

Your rolls are gorgeous! I've been making cinnamon rolls for years and always wondered about how they'd taste with sourdough. The photo of the unglazed rolls makes me want to give them a little poke - they're so fluffy!

 I can't wait to try this recipe. ;-)

mountaindog's picture

Thanks all of you for your kind words.

Mike, it was a busy but fun weekend bake. Surprisingly, I didn't mess anything up like I usually do when multi-tasking 3 different recipes at once.

Lindy - you are wise to postpone this...I need to not make this again until next Christmas, or at least Thanksgiving. In fact, a good antidote to this is to make your beautiful flaxseed loaf next (I hear flaxseeds are like lipitor...).

Moriah - they were very puffy. I also forgot to mention that they were not at all sour tasting, but very flavorful. My wheat starter is very mild. I would not receommend using a really sour starter like a rye one in this.

LindyD's picture

Maybe if I incorporate some of those flaxseeds into your beautiful and devilishly tempting rolls, I could assuage my guilt. 

Not sure about my LDL, though.   :-)


Marni's picture

So, so good!  Those look like what I have been trying to make.  I like the idea of sourdough cinnamon rolls, but mine have been too heavy.  Yours are beautiful!


dmsnyder's picture

Hi, MD.

Lovely cinnamon rolls and breads. 

I will save your SD cinnamon roll recipe to make in celebration of losing 5 pounds. I need the motivation.


xaipete's picture

That's some pretty good eats you have here!


Moriah's picture

I'm contributing  a "bread of the month club" offering for a fundraiser in my community. These rolls are definitely going to be on it. I hope that's okay with you.  I can't stop looking at them. I want to make them now but I've got to show some restraint or I'll be "proofing" along with my bread

mountaindog's picture

No problem, let me know how they turn out when you make them...

ehanner's picture

See now you have all of us tempted to flee our diets and jump into your sweet rolls. They doooo look good!


mountaindog's picture

Thanks Marnie, David, Pamela, Eric, glad you like the looks of them.  Sorry to be a bad influence on everyone's diets!  I almost was not going to bother writing these up but they were just too tasty, I had to share...If it makes you feel any better, I've only been eating lowfat yogurt for lunch all week myself to make up for recent indulgences...Anyhow, I blame Hans and his recent Viennoserie, for making me think of pain au raisin ;-)

dmsnyder's picture

The attempt at making amends for your shameless display of calories was completely negated by the included link to hansjoakim's pastries!

Let's see your recipe for lowfat yogurt. 




(Just kidding.)

luv2bake's picture

All I want to say is  WOW!!

bigphredo's picture

I hope to try this recipe very soon, I'm a sucker for cinnamon rolls.

mountaindog's picture

Thanks Magnus and bigphredo, I hope you enjoy the recipe. If you make these feel free to post any pics here of your results, and let me know how you liked them.

alyaman's picture


you said>>>>

(or until the center of dough registers about 195-200F on instant-read thermometer.)


 so pls can you put a photo for this*thermometer*

 i want to buy one but i don't know how it seem

thanx   :)

mountaindog's picture

Below is what an inexpensive version looks like ($10-15 US) and is the type I use, most supermarkets sell them here in the US in the kitchen gadgets aisle. It is good to get one that displays in both Fahrenheit and Celsius. At the link here you can purchase various types of these from A very high quality one is the Thermapen, but it is much more expensive.



xaipete's picture

I have a Thermapen and I love it. Note: Thermapens come in either C or F unlike most other thermometers.


alyaman's picture

ok thanx

 the last  question 

 is that the same one .. wich i  use for steak..??

Paddyscake's picture

the answer is yes. It is one that you would stick into whatever you are testing for just a few seconds.


jeanx's picture

The picture of your rolls was enticing, but the desrcrption below it left me drooling! I just started baking and have a sourdough starter at home that I cannot wait to use for this recipe!

Thank you!

liztree's picture

Excellent I made these!!!!! BUT>>> i felt the dough was a bit too slack and I was wondering if the weight of the ggs was correct as I measure my eggs by weight. I think 225g is not correct for the number of eggs called for??? or is it a super slack dough and I should have strched and folded more???? Help I want to make these again soon!!!
Even with my slack dough these were a huge hit with my family and farm crew!!!!
liz Tree

Mylissa20's picture

I made my own version of this recipe last weekend and they turned out gorgeous, but I must say I was apprehensive of leaving dough with eggs in it out to proof for so long.  Is there danger of the eggs spoiling with so much countertop proofing.  We ate them and were just fine, but as far as recommending the recipe to others, I am a little hesitant because I don't want to get blamed for getting others sick.  What is your opinion?

ww's picture

dear mountain dog,

a long overdue post. Just wanted to thank you for posting this recipe. I had wanted to make this for ages. I finally did, and experimented with some variations too. The recipe worked a charm. I made:

- cinnamon buns, left unglazed, as i'm not one for glazes
-buns with a filling of grated fresh coconut, palm sugar and a bit of ginger
- a herbed loaf in my pullman (omitted the honey, subst olive oil for the butter, and added some dried herbs
- a black sesame loaf (mixed sesame paste into the milk which i warmed, then left to cool before adding as per recipe)

If i succeed in posting the photos, you can see them. what i did differently: used half APF, half stronger bread flour for more chew, slightly reduced qty of butter, and held back on adding butter to dough until slight to moderate gluten had been developed, then added it in bit by bit, a la brioche method. Then i mixed intensively until strong gluten was developed, with some pauses in between ( in case mixer breaks down!)

I did an overnight bulk rise, punching down twice before refrigerating, then a very slow final proof (once overnight, and another time, over more than half a day). You're right, these grew tremendously. I was surprised by how tall and strong they rose. So to anyone making these, i would say shape buns, if making, on the small side - they grew so much my filling became lost in them - and give them sufficient space to grow in tin. Mine, as you will see, became a bit monstruous. Also, the tang from the slow rises was quite prominent. I liked this but it went down less well with the eaters. I'll experiment with proofing times the next time.

But this definitely lived up to its name as 'billowy'. Very fluffy yet strong, very delicious. THanks!

djd's picture

I made these for my annual Boxing Day party, subbing out the filling and glaze for my usual (which used to also be my bun recipe), and everyone loved them. Thanks!

BradT's picture

Thanks for posting!

Like others, I wondered about the weight for the eggs being far too much - I wonder if you had weighed them before cracking them?

I simply used three large eggs (~160g, broken) and still ended up with a super slack dough which was virtually unmanageable.  I will try again, but reduce the liquids to end up with something more manageable.


Mitsuko's picture

these are simply amazing. I made them yesterday and baked up this am. I was hoping to do a little sho bulk fermentation, to have these for weekend breakfast treat. So I kept the dough warmer, around 85 degree ambient temp. And they were done with bulk in less than 4 hR. I didn't have dark brown sugar so I had to sub light brown. I then did overnight proof in 60-65degree ambient temp for about 8-10hr. Woke up to Huge pillowy buns. put them in the oven 25min. Prefer a thicker cream cheese frosting, and that's what I had on hand from previous recipes. Even with my adaptations, they came out fantastically.  I was drawn to this as I was also working on a Hawaiian bread recipe over at northwestsourdough and had starter built for there (though I kept it at 100%) and also had mashed potatoes for both recipes. But most importantly, you had me at the billowy-less cinnamon-heavy vanilla part. That's exactly how I like cinnamon rolls too. Anyway, whole family approved and loved. I can't wait to make these for guests someday. I think they'll be sure to impress. Thank you! Next time I will make sure to have dark brown sugar too! That's the only change I'd make. And maybe do a cooler bulk, so the dough has a little more structure. 

mountaindog's picture

Hello Fresh Loaf Community! It's been over a decade since I've had time to log-in here and comment/post, just life getting busy and getting older. I still make this recipe almost every year over the Holidays, and have a few updates that make life a little easier and more consistent.

First, on the weight of the eggs: I have no idea where I got that 225g from way back then - sorry about that, but regardless, I use 3 extra-large eggs, so whatever that weight ends up being without shells: may be anywhere from 160-175 g according to most equivalence charts I see online.

Second: I now use potato flour and buttermilk powder that I mix right in with the flour before making the dough, rather than the mashed potato and liquid buttermilk. So in this recipe I would use 22 g potato flour (not starch), 29 g buttermilk powder, and 325 g water. This makes the dough have a roughly 71% hydration including the eggs. I use Bob's Red Mill potato flour, and Saco cultured buttermilk powder, both will keep very long in the frig. so I can always have them on hand. 

This is a very slock dough, but if you keep your butter cool and cream it, don't melt it, and fold your dough well, it should be manageable. 

I appreciate all of the comments and feedback, and glad so many have tried this recipe. Happy Holiday Baking!  ~Mountaindog 

iluv2bake's picture

Dear Mountain Dog,

I took the liberty of substituting 2 Tbsp mashed potato flakes, 1 Tbsp milk and 2 Tbsp water for the boiled and mashed potato so I could make this dough in my bread machine.

I run the levain ingredients through the machine's dough cycle (including the rising time), and it usually doubles 2-3 hours afterwards.

I make these rolls with Bob's Red Mill Measure-for-Measure gluten-free flour, and take them to my doctor's office on the days when he does procedures to relieve my chronic pain. I've had 4 disc fusions in my neck, which interferes with the way my neck and shoulder muscles function. My head permanently leans to the left (cervical dystonia), causing very painful muscle spasms and headaches. My doctor injects a type of Botox A in those muscles with great skill. He has a gluten-free diet and DESERVES THESE CINNAMON ROLLS! 

Needless to say, I'm a popular patient at this chronic pain clinic.

Thank you for sharing this wonderful recipe.