Although my husband, Scott sometimes calls me “Speedy” (or “a whirling dervish”) as a nickname and laughs at how fast I run up and down the stairs, I thought that my age had finally caught up with me. You see, I’d seen some recipes on Pinterest for “60 Minute Cinnamon Rolls”. The blurbs claimed that you could have “fresh cinnamon rolls (from scratch) in less than 60 minutes”. Wow, was I impressed. That sounded pretty amazing… but it also made me feel like I was really slowing down… getting old. Even with super fast acting yeast, my cinnamon rolls take close to two hours. How in the world do they do it?
I decided to check into it as I was quite curious. So I googled “60 minute cinnamon rolls” hoping to find the secret. Sure enough, a whole slew of recipes popped up and lots of beautiful images of gorgeous sweet treats. I perused through the recipes and discovered that just like mine, they called for milk, butter, rapid-rise yeast, sugar, flour, eggs and salt. Same ingredients, just different proportions. The methods had a few variations, but basically, quite similar to mine. Nothing super startling or out of the box unique. So how could these other recipes be so much faster than mine?
That’s when I started to do the math on these “60 minute” recipes:
- 2 minutes to warm the milk and butter
- 8 minutes (mixing time) +
- 10 minutes (rest time) +
- 25 minutes (rising time) +
- 20 minutes (baking time) =
- 65 minutes!
65 minutes. Not including time to measure the ingredients, roll out the dough, add the filling, roll into a log and cut into slices. Even for a “Speedy” that would take a minimum of 15-20 extra minutes. Do you think the time calculation in these recipes might be just a wee bit off?
I did set a timer when I made these Cinnamon Rolls with Caramel Icing and discovered, if I work quickly, with minimal interruptions, I can go from raw ingredients to a fabulously delicious, fragrant sweet treat in just under 2 hours. And they are quite easy, as the title implies. Since the recipe calls for fast-rising yeast, there’s no yeast activation necessary, as in traditional sweet roll recipes. Just throw the yeast in with the other dry ingredients and away you go!
This yeast also allows great results with only one rising period versus two with regular active yeast. That in itself saves about 40-50 minutes. You’ll find fast-rising, also known as rapid-rising or instant yeast in the baking aisle of most larger grocery stores and online.
Did I tell you these Easy Cinnamon Rolls with Caramel Icing are crazy-good? My husband declared them to be “the best cinnamon rolls you’ve ever made”. Maybe it’s that they’re so moist and tender, perhaps it’s the sweet cinnamony-walnut layers swirled throughout these rolls, or it could be the silky smooth, deep caramel icing … I’m not sure, but I do know that his comment made old “Speedy” feel a bit younger and quite pleased with my results.
P.S. Oh, and if you’re truly pinched for time, I got cha covered there too! Check out this super duper easy cinnamon roll recipe that truly can be made start to finish in less than an hour.
- Ingredients for the dough:
- 1 cup whole milk
- ¼ cup butter, cut in 4 pieces (this will help it melt more quickly)
- 3 ½ cups all-purpose flour, divided
- ¼ cup sugar
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1¼-ounce (7g) package rapid rise yeast (1½ teaspoons)
- 1 large egg
- 1 yolk from a large egg
- Ingredients for the filling:
- 3 tablespoons butter, softened
- ¼ cup dark brown sugar, packed
- ¼ cup white sugar
- ¼ cup finely chopped walnuts
- 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
- Ingredients for the caramel icing:
- 2 tablespoons butter, melted
- 2 tablespoons milk
- ¼ cup dark brown sugar
- ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1½ cups powdered sugar
- Place milk in a microwave-safe bowl. Heat on high for 1½ minutes. Remove from microwave and add the butter. Stir for a minute until butter is melted, then set aside.
- In the bowl of an electric mixer with the dough hook attached, combine 2 cups of flour, the sugar, the yeast and the salt. Mix until ingredients are combined.
- Check the milk mixture. It should be quite warm to the touch but not super hot, 110˚F-120˚F. Add milk mixture to the mixing bow and mix with the dough hook until dry ingredients are incorporated. Add egg and egg yolk and mix until combined.
- Add the remaining flour and beat until all flour is incorporated. Continue to knead with the dough hook for 5 more minutes.
- Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and knead a few times to form a ball, coating the dough with flour. Cover the dough with the mixing bowl inverted and let it rest for 10 minutes.
- While dough is resting, make the filling. Combine brown sugar, white sugar, walnuts and cinnamon.
- On a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough with a rolling pin into a 12x14-inch rectangle. With a table knife, spread rectangle with the 3 tablespoons softened butter. Sprinkle evenly with the sugar/walnut/cinnamon mixture.
- Preheat oven to 375˚F. Spray a 9x13 inch pan with baking spray. Line with parchment paper allowing paper to extend over long edges of pan (to help with easy removal from pan). Spray parchment paper lightly with baking spray.
- Starting at a longer edge of the dough, tightly roll into a log. Pinch seam to seal. With a sharp, serrated knife cut log into 12 equal size pieces. Use very light pressure to cut. Place cut side up into prepared pan, spacing evenly. Cover with a clean kitchen towel and let rise until double, about 25-30 minutes.
- Bake for 18 minutes, then cover with foil to prevent over-browning and bake for another 6-8 minutes or until golden and dough in center is done. Remove from oven and cool for 10 minutes before drizzling with caramel icing. Serve warm or at room temperature. To freeze, place rolls in freezer uncovered for 1 hour, then wrap tightly with plastic wrap or foil and return to freezer.
- While the rolls are baking, make the icing. Place butter and milk in a medium-size microwave-safe bowl. Cover with a paper towel and cook on high power for 1 minute. Add brown sugar and stir to combine. Return to microwave and cook for another minute. Take a tiny taste to make sure mixture is not grainy. If there is any graininess, return to microwave for another 30 seconds.
- Add vanilla and powdered sugar and stir till smooth and lump-free. Icing should be fairly thick but "drizzlable". If it's too thick, add a bit more milk. If too thin add a bit more powdered sugar.