Diane, A Broad
September 21, 2012

Overnight Cinnamon Rolls

These rolls started out as no-knead bread, but then I decided it would be silly to make artisan-style bread in my kitchen when I can walk next door and get artisan-style bread any time. So I backtracked and made them into cinnamon rolls.

The no-knead bread method beginning is fantastic for one thing, though — the flavor in these rolls is beyond the normal cinnamon-and-sugar gooeyness. There’s a rich yeasty flavor that’s developed over the long rise time that makes these taste less like a guilty pleasure and more like a for-serious bread item that just happens to be sweet and buttery.

Plus? These things freeze like the dickens into hard little long-storing hockey pucks, only to thaw willingly on the counter overnight. When you wake up, they will have risen just enough for them to be ready to be popped into the oven for a few minutes, permeating your house with cinnamon-sugary essence and giving you just enough time to brush your teeth and shower before sitting down to freshly-baked rolls for breakfast.

Overnight Cinnamon Rolls

Inspired by Jim Lahey’s No-Knead Bread.

Makes 12 cinnamon rolls.

For dough:
2 cups lukewarm water
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon yeast
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 cups bread flour

2 eggs
1/4 cup butter, melted
2 tablespoons sugar
2 cups bread flour, plus more for kneading

For filling:
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup white sugar
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 cup softened butter plus more for pan and brushing

For icing:
1 cup powdered sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons milk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract


In a large bowl, combine the 2 cups warm water with 1/2 teaspoon sugar and yeast and stir. Let it sit for about ten minutes, until frothy. Mix in the salt and 4 cups of bread flour and stir until a shaggy dough forms. Place a piece of plastic wrap over the bowl and let it sit overnight (at least 8 hours, up to 24 hours).

After the dough has rested, add the eggs, melted butter, 2 tablespoons of flour, and 2 cups of bread flour to the bowl with the dough and mix thoroughly with a wooden spoon or with your hands. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead for 8-10 minutes until the dough is elastic and smooth. It should be soft and moist but not too sticky to work with. Cover the dough with plastic wrap or a clean kitchen towel and allow it to rest for about 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, thoroughly combine all the filling ingredients in a small bowl. Butter your baking vessel (a 9″x13″ pan if you plan to bake all of the rolls at once).

On a lightly floured surface, roll and stretch out the dough into a large rectangle about 16″x12″. Dab the filling all over the dough rectangle, then spread it out evenly with a spatula or your fingers. Starting at one of the long ends, roll up the dough into a tight spiral log, pinching the ends to seal. Cut the roll 12 sections. Place the rolls into your prepared baking vessel, cut sides down, snug up against each other. Optionally, you may melt a little butter and brush it over the rolls. Cover the pan with a piece of plastic wrap or a kitchen towel and allow to rise in a warm place for 1 hour or until nearly doubled in size.

Heat the oven to 375°F (190°C). Once the rolls are risen, pop them in the oven and bake for 15-10 minutes until they are golden brown. Pull them out and let them cool for a few minutes in the pan. Mix up the icing ingredients in a small bowl, then drizzle the icing evenly over the rolls in streaks. Serve warm.


I like to cut the rolls with unwaxed dental floss, using a garroting motion. The rolls keep their shape better that way.

To freeze the cinnamon rolls, double-wrap them individually in plastic wrap just after cutting them and before the final rise. Unwrap them and place them in a baking vessel and allow to come to room temperature, then rise to nearly double their volume, before baking. This can be done by removing the rolls from the freezer just before bed, and baking them off when you wake up.

If you aren’t baking off all of the rolls at once, use a baking vessel that will hold as many rolls as you plan to bake snugly. A 8″-9″ cake pan works well seven to eight rolls, and a standard loaf pan works well for four.

Music to cook by: Ho Hey [The Lumineers // The Lumineers]

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5 responses to “Overnight Cinnamon Rolls”

  1. tinakferris says:

    I have really been into baking breads lately and these cinnamon rolls look right up my alley. Also, I appreciate the tips on freezing. The new baking obsession has left me with quite a surplus of cooking goods.

  2. Candida says:

    I’m not much of a baker, but with the combination of cooler weather and this post… I might have to try!

  3. I bet the rolls would also freeze wonderfully once baked. I’ve done it with sticky buns with great success. I love a good cinnamon roll!

  4. […] had a huge sugar craving. What’s a sweet-toothed girl to do when there’s no way to make gooey cinnamon rolls or chewy […]

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