For something completely different- Here is the Gordon family “Cinnabon® Cinnamon Rolls Clone Recipe” DM
Cinnabon® Cinnamon Rolls Clone Recipe
Recipe By: Ron and Shallen Gordon
Serving Size: 15 Rolls
Preparation Time: 3 to 4 Hours
Categories: Baking, Bread, Muffins, Rolls, Sticky-buns
We’ve worked very hard over the past several years to develop an accurate clone or copycat recipe that you can prepare at home for Cinnabon® Cinnamon Rolls. The recipe below is not their recipe, but one we’ve engineered through extensive research, careful tests, and much experimentation. We’ve improved upon our earlier recipe and after many test batches, we’re convinced that this revised copycat recipe will enable you to recreate that wonderful taste!
You may wish to visit their website, The Cinnabon Experience, and review their wonderful presentation, The Cinnabon Story. There’s some interesting information at their site, but alas, no recipe since the actual recipe is proprietary. Although several other Web sites claim to have the real recipe, we hope that you’ll find that the one presented here provides the most accurate taste and appearance. We’ve made every effort to closely reproduce their results and clone that great cinnamon roll flavor! Judging from the many letters we’ve received from readers around the world who have used our recipe and achieved great results, we’ve evidently succeeded!
This recipe has been sized so that the dough may be prepared using a large capacity (2 pound) bread machine.
Amount Measure Ingredient and Preparation Method
1/4 Cup Water (2 oz)
1 Cup Whole Milk (8 oz)
1/2 Cup Butter, unsalted sweet cream, melted (0.25 lb, i.e. 1 stick)
1 1/4 Ea Egg, Large Grade AA, well beaten or 1 extra large egg
1 Tsp Vanilla Flavor (preferably alcohol free)
1/2 Tsp Salt (0.0075 lb)
1/2 Cup Sugar, preferably Superfine Granulated (0.224 lb)
4 1/2 Cup Unbleached White Bread Flour (1 1/4 lb)
1 Tbsp Vital Wheat Gluten (0.021 lb)
1/4 Oz SAF Perfect Rise® Gourmet Yeast (1 envelope, 7 g)(Kroger or HEB)
Remove a large egg from the refrigerator and permit it to reach room temperature. Gently melt the butter. Add the water and whole milk. The resulting liquid mixture should be permitted to cool so that it is between 75°F and 85°F before proceeding further. Then add the remaining ingredients, in the order listed above, to the bread machine and prepare using the dough setting. (Follow your bread machine instructions for dough preparation.)
To help you achieve the very best results, see also our additional notes on ingredients and preparation.
Amount Measure Ingredient and Preparation Method
1 Cup Light Brown Sugar, firmly packed (0.4255 lb)
5 Tbsp Cinnamon, Korintje Grade AA (0.0745 lb)
½ Cup Margarine (0.25 lb, i.e. 1 stick)
Remove the margarine from the refrigerator once you’ve started the dough cycle and allow it to reach room temperature. In a small bowl, mix the brown sugar and cinnamon.
After the dough cycle has completed, roll and stretch the dough out on a lightly floured surface into a 15″ by 24″ rectangle.
Mark off 1″ along the 24″ edge of the dough, closest to you. You will not spread any margarine or sugar-cinnamon mixture on this edge so that you can seal the roll. Spread the softened margarine over the dough with a rubber spatula and then evenly distribute the sugar and cinnamon mixture. Be careful to leave your 1″ edge clean. As a final step, use your rolling pin to lightly roll the sugar and cinnamon mixture.
Starting at the far edge of the dough, roll it up tightly. Begin at the far edge and roll up the dough toward the 1″ clean edge. The clean 1″ edge is used to seal the finished roll.
Trim the left and right ends of the roll. The result will be a 24″ roll. Trim off the left and right ends of the roll so that you have a flush end at each end of the roll. Then mark the roll every 1 1/2 inches. Cut the roll into 1 1/2″ long portions. This may be done with a knife, as they do at the store. However we’ve found it easier to use dental floss. (We use cinnamon flavored dental floss just for dramatic effect!) Cut the roll by placing the thread under the roll at your mark, crisscross over and pull it to cut. You should get 15 rolls.
Line your baking pans with parchment paper. Place 5 rolls into 8″ square baking pans 1″ apart (one roll in each corner and one in the center). Cover with a lint free cloth and let rise in a warm, draft free place until almost double, approximately 1 hour. After rising, rolls should be touching each other and the sides of the pan. This is important for best results. This gives the resulting rolls the soft, moist outer edge that most people prefer.
After rising, bake in a convection oven at 310°F for 15 minutes. If you are using a conventional oven, bake at 335°F for 20 minutes. The resulting rolls should be only lightly browned. We bake only one 8 inch square pan of rolls at a time to obtain uniform results.
Cream Cheese Frosting
Amount Measure Ingredient and Preparation Method
4 Oz Cream Cheese (0.25 lb)
1/2 Cup Margarine (0.25 lb, i.e. 1 stick)
1 3/4 Cup 10x Powdered Sugar (or Sugar Fondant) (1/2 lb)
1 Tsp Vanilla Flavor (preferably Alcohol Free)
1/8 Tsp Lemon Flavor (preferably Alcohol Free)
There are several steps involved in the preparation of the frosting, but it is not difficult, and you’ll be surprised at the wonderful results you achieve. For the fluffiest frosting, use vanilla and lemon flavors that do not contain alcohol. A total of 50 minutes is required to prepare the frosting from start to finish. We normally prepare the frosting while the rolls are rising.
Generally, we use 10x powdered sugar. However, sugar fondant yields a smoother frosting. Please refer to our notes. Remove the cream cheese and margarine from the refrigerator and place it into the mixing bowl. Leave it for about half an hour so that it will not be too cold.
Use the flat beater (or paddle) to blend the cream cheese and margarine for 6 minutes. Use a speed of 65 RPM, or the “slow mixing” speed on your machine. We use setting #2 on our KitchenAid Mixer.
Switch to the stainless steel whip and whip the cream cheese and margarine mixture for 10 minutes. Use a speed of 150 RPM, or the “medium fast whipping” speed on your machine. We use setting #6 on our KitchenAid mixer.
Add 1 cup of the powdered sugar and mix for 1 minute using the stainless steel whip at 65 RPM. Add the remaining 3/4 cup of powdered sugar and mix for an additional minute.
Lastly, add the vanilla flavor and lemon flavor and whip for 1 minute using the stainless steel whip at 150 RPM.
Here’s an easy to follow table for the preparation of the frosting:
Add cream cheese and margarine to mixing bowl and let stand for 30 minutes.
Mix using paddle At 65 RPM for 6 minutes
Use stainless steel whip At 150 RPM for 10 minutes
Add 1 cup powdered sugar.
Use stainless steel whip At 65 RPM for 1 minute
Add ¾ cup powdered sugar.
Use stainless steel whip At 65 RPM for 1 minute
Add vanilla and lemon flavors.
Use stainless steel whip At 150 RPM for 1 minute
Transfer the finished frosting to a convenient covered container and refrigerate it. Once the rolls are finished baking, frost them while they’re still very warm and serve them immediately. Yum, yum!
Notes, Tips, Hints, and Suggestions
These notes are intended to assist you in achieving the same great results that we get at home when preparing our cinnamon roll recipe. Although experienced bakers may find these tips superfluous, they will help those of us who are more novice bread bakers more exactly duplicate that great taste!
The stores use only the finest ingredients. You’ll want to do the same to duplicate the wonderful taste of their world famous rolls. Begin by selecting a top grade of bread flour. We frequently use King Arthur Flour. They offer several products and we prefer their Unbleached Special Bread Flour. This product is available in Dallas at Whole Foods Market. Another top grade bread flour we’ve had very good success with is Gold Medal Better For Bread™ specialty flour.
When selecting a flour to use, look for these points:
Select bread flour. Do not use cake flour, general purpose flour, or self-rising flour.
The amount of Protein in a 1/4 cup (30g) serving should be 4g.
The flour should include Malted Barley Flour (Diastatic Malt).
Select a flour that has not been bleached or Bromated®.
A high-gluten, hard red spring wheat flour is best.
We do not include 1/2 tsp malted barley flour in our recipe as some others do, because this is included in the bread flour itself. Check the list of ingredients shown on the nutritional label of the flour you choose to use.
Adding 1 tablespoon of vital wheat gluten helps improve the overall quality of the dough. The vital wheat gluten helps the dough rise better. The resulting dough will be more elastic and easier to roll out. You can prepare the dough without the addition of the vital wheat gluten, especially if you follow our recommendations as you select your flour. We use it whenever we have it on hand, in an effort to achieve the best possible results.
When preparing the dough, remove all of the ingredients from the refrigerator and permit them to sit out on the counter for about an hour so that they reach room temperature. Warm the butter gently to melt it, being very careful not to let it boil! Permit the butter, milk, and water mixture to reach a temperature between 75°F and 85°F before you continue. This is important to permit the yeast to properly activate and grow. Above 85°F the yeast will be too active. Be especially careful not to proceed if your liquid mixture is too hot. At temperatures above 120°F the yeast may be killed and your dough may not rise at all.
Generally, in most parts of the United States, we use plain tap water in the dough. However, because this recipe is prepared worldwide, we feel compelled to warn you that some local tap water may not be suitable. The use of “still” (non-carbonated) spring water may give you much better results. For example, in some areas of South Texas the water contains a significant amount of dissolved sulfur that will impart an off taste to the dough. In Dallas during the month of August there is so much algae in the lake water (the source of our tap water) that the municipal tap water tastes poor! For this reason, we’ll frequently use Ozarka® Natural Spring Water to achieve consistently great results!
We use SAF Perfect Rise® Gourmet Yeast, and we recommend that you do the same. This product is purchased as a pair of envelopes, each containing a 1/4 oz. portion. Respect the expiration date that is printed on the envelope. Yeast is a live product. Store it in a cool location. We have also had good results using Fleischmann’s RapidRise Yeast®.
Instead of using an envelope (1/4 oz) of yeast, you may substitute 1 tablespoon of bread machine yeast. We’ve used Fleischmann’s Bread Machine Yeast with equal success. We store our bottle of bread machine yeast in the refrigerator to maintain its freshness. If you do too, remove 1 tablespoon from the jar and permit it to reach room temperature before using it in the bread machine.
Be sure that your yeast is fresh! Respect the expiration date that is printed on the container. Yeast is a living organism, so do not leave it in your car parked in the hot Texas sun while you run other errands, or let it freeze! Always select yeast that is intended for bread machines and includes ascorbic acid.
We use superfine granulated quick dissolving sugar in the dough. After adding the butter, milk, water, and beaten egg to the bread machine container, we add the sugar and salt. The use of superfine granulated sugar is intended to improve dissolving and mixing. If you do not have superfine quick dissolving sugar, regular granulated sugar will also work satisfactorily.
We use Frontier Natural Flavor brand vanilla and lemon flavorings. This is a premium quality product. We purchase both our vanilla and lemon flavors from Whole Foods Market in Dallas. We’ve also had very good results using Adams Best Natural and Artificial Vanilla Flavor in the dough. Adams extract contains alcohol, though, and because of this we prefer not to use it in the frosting since limits our ability to achieve a fluffy result.
Why does our recipe call for 1 1/4 large eggs? Someone once told us to use 20 large eggs to prepare 32 lbs of dough! This ratio equates to 1 1/4 large eggs in 2 lb of dough. Instead, you may substitute 1 additional tablespoon of milk in place of 1/4 egg. Or use 1 extra large egg, instead of 1 1/4 large eggs. I list 1 1/4 large eggs only in an effort to be as authentic and as accurate as possible!
We are very careful as we measure out the water and milk. To achieve the most accurate results, we use The Perfect Beaker. First, we add 1/4 cup of water and then continue by adding the whole milk to bring the level of the liquid to 1 1/4 cups. If we are not using 1 1/4 large eggs (or one extra large egg) we add an additional tablespoon of milk. We pour this into the bread machine container and then add the melted butter and the well beaten egg. Liquid ingredients first!
We use unsalted sweet cream butter in the dough. However, if your butter is not unsalted, go ahead and use it but reduce the amount of salt that you add to the dough by 1/4 teaspoon. If you do not have both butter and margarine on hand, you can substitute margarine for butter in the dough. If you substitute butter for margarine in the filling and frosting, you will get almost the same results, but the finished product won’t be as deliciously gooey. This is simply a scientific fact that results from the fact that margarine has a lower melting point. We recommend that you use margarine in both the filling and frosting, and real butter or margarine in the dough.
If you review other Cinnabon clone recipes on the web, you’ll discover that many of them include instant vanilla pudding in the dough. That isn’t a bad idea. Instant vanilla pudding consists mostly of superfine granulated sugar, food starch, vanilla flavor, and a little salt. We do not like the effect of the starch and other chemicals that are included in the pudding mix. Instead, we prefer to add the needed sugar and vanilla flavoring directly, rather than relying on instant vanilla pudding.
As a general rule, add the ingredients to your bread machine in the order I’ve listed them. That having been said, follow the instructions given for your specific bread machine.
Open the machine and check the dough during the first 5 to 10 minutes of the first kneading cycle. You should do this even if your manual says not to. Flour acts as a sponge, absorbing moisture on humid summer days and becoming dehydrated during dry winter weather. You’ll have to adjust for fluctuating humidity, barometric pressure, and your altitude by adding small amounts of flour or liquid to the dough.
To adjust the dough in your bread machine during the first knead cycle, wait until the ingredients have been mixed for 3 to 4 minutes. If the dough looks very wet and is coating the bottom and sides of the pan and not forming a ball, sprinkle in flour, a tablespoon at a time while the machine is kneading, until you have a smooth, supple ball of dough. If the mixture is dry and corrugated looking or the dough doesn’t hold together, sprinkle in additional liquid, a tablespoon at a time, until the dough is smooth and pliable and forms a cohesive ball. Give the machine and dough about 3 to 5 minutes to integrate the flour or water that you’ve added. If after several minutes you find a wet messy glob or a dry thumping sound is coming from the machine, press STOP, add a small amount of flour or liquid and press START. Stick around and make additional adjustments, if necessary, until the dough looks right.
Please note that cinnamon prevents the yeast from properly rising the bread. This is why cinnamon is never mixed directly into the dough. To avoid contamination, do not work with the cinnamon until after the bread dough is in the machine!
Other tips bread dough tips? We’ve always found the information at the King Arthur Flour Company website to be very helpful. They have several excellent pages on Baking Tips. Their page on Bread Machine Basics is particularly good.
The best and most accurate book we’ve found for baking and dough preparation using a bread machine is Bread Machine Baking: Perfect Every Time by Lora Brody and Millie Apter. We’ve probably made close to half of all the recipes in that book and yes, they do come out right!
If you do not have a bread machine, you may still prepare the dough the old fashioned way: kneading it by hand! Be sure, when you do this, to use an appropriate yeast in your dough. Proceed as you would for any 2 pound dough recipe that you prepare. The exact technique for hand-kneading are beyond what we can present here.
The best cinnamon makes the best cinnamon roll. There are several varieties to choose from. Some of the Cinnabon retail stores sell bottles of Makara cinnamon, the “official” cinnamon used in the preparation of their product. If you can purchase some from the store, we’d recommend it!
You’ll not find Makara cinnamon sold elsewhere. We’ve already search the internet high and low! Evidently, “Makara” is simply a marketing name for the actual cinnamon powder that is used by the retail stores and franchises. We’ve tried several types of cinnamon and after much experimentation we’ve concluded that the best product to use is Korintje Cinnamon, Grade AA. We purchase this in Dallas at Whole Foods Market.
Korintje Cinnamon comes from Mt. Korintje in Sumatra, Indonesia. If it doesn’t say Korintje, it is most likely an inferior type. Korintje cinnamon is a type of cassia cinnamon (Cinnamomum cassia). Chinese cinnamon or Vietnamese cinnamon are also cassia cinnamons, but perhaps not considered the very best.
Cassia cinnamon is sometimes referred to as “bastard” cinnamon. Cinnamomum zeylanicum (Ceylon cinnamon) is considered to be the true cinnamon. A simple search using any internet search engine will provide you with more detailed information about cinnamon and its varieties than you’ll ever really want to know! However, if you’re going to be an expert in cinnamon rolls, you’ll have to be able to rattle off at least some of this information!
Cassia cinnamon is the cinnamon that is generally sold throughout the United States. And from what we’ve been able to determine, Korintje (Cassia) cinnamon is simply the best type to use in cinnamon rolls.
Notice that our recipe calls for significantly more cinnamon than other clone recipes that you may find on the web. We’ve worked hard to determine the appropriate ratio of brown sugar and cinnamon and have concluded that 1 cup firmly packed brown sugar (0.425 lbs) mixed with 5 tablespoons (0.075 lbs) of Korintje cinnamon gives a result that most closely matches the flavor you’d get at the mall stores.
You may use a fork to mix the brown sugar and cinnamon. However, we’ve found that a pastry blender (also known as a pastry cutter) works best. Using this tool not only permits you to mix the brown sugar and cinnamon without creating a cloud of cinnamon powder, but breaks up most lumps in the brown sugar. Although that’s not what this tool is intended for, it works great!
We recommend that you visit a Cinnabon retail store to watch how they spread the dough and apply the filling. They typically start with 4 lb dough balls, which is twice as much dough as our recipe produces. They roll it out to a 30″ by 24″ rectangle. When using the two pound dough ball that our recipe produces, roll it out to a 15″ by 24″ rectangle, or as close to this size as you can. This isn’t particularly easy and takes some patience and practice!
We don’t have a marble table on which to roll out the dough. For several years, we sprinkled flour on our Formica® table and rolled and stretched the dough into a 15 by 24 inch rectangle. Recently, we’ve discovered the Roll’Pat Counter Pastry Mat made by World Cuisine, France. This mat is easy to roll up and store and its 25 3/8″ by 17 1/2″ size makes it a very convenient surface on which to roll out the dough. We purchased ours from Crate & Barrel. Since it is not necessary to sprinkle flour on this surface, the dough is less dry and more consistent.
When you visit the store, watch how they leave a 1″ edge along the wide dimension of the dough “clean”. (No proprietary or trade secrets here, they prepare the rolls in plain view!) No margarine or sugar-cinnamon mixture is applied along this edge so that the roll can be sealed. You should do the same.
We have been successful using either Blue Bonnet or Land O Lakes margarine in the filling and frosting. After rolling out the dough to 15″ by 24″ rectangle, spread the room-temperature margarine on the dough, being careful to avoid the last 1″ edge.
You may ask why margarine is used in the filling and frosting. Margarine has a lower melting point and this gives the moist gooey results that the store achieves. That is why the store uses only margarine and not butter in the filling and frosting. (We use real butter in the dough, however, because it generally gives the best flavor.)
After rolling the dough and sealing the edge, “caterpillar” the roll to achieve a uniform diameter. Manipulate the dough roll so that thicker portions are slightly stretched and thinner sections are compressed. You can watch them do this at the store. As they do this, they gently lift, roll, and place the dough much like the movement of a caterpillar.
At our home, we find that everyone enjoys the smaller cinnamon roll that is achieved by cutting 1 1/2 inch portions. Note: You cannot make the larger cinnamon rolls by simply cutting the dough roll into 2 1/2 sections. You must roll up 24″ of dough and then cut 2 1/2 inch portions!
The rolls are baked in a convection oven at a lower temperature than you may otherwise expect. A temperature of 310°F avoids a hard crust, producing the soft product that everyone enjoys. If you do not have a convection oven, use a slightly higher temperature. We recommend 335°F for 20 minutes in a conventional oven. Your oven temperature may vary, so a couple of minutes, more or less, may be necessary. When properly baked, the rolls should be lightly browned and soft. If a hard crust forms, the temperature is too high, or you’ve left the rolls in the oven too long.
We use 8-inch square aluminum pans to bake our rolls. These yield a better result than the stoneware products we’ve also tried. Line the pans with parchment paper for the easiest cleanup. We cut 10 inch square pieces of parchment, then cut a 1 inch slit into each corner (diagonally) toward the center. These cuts make it easier to press the parchment paper into the pan.
Cream Cheese Frosting:
In the frosting, it is best to use flavorings that do not contain alcohol. The alcohol in most vanilla extracts and in many natural lemon flavorings will prevent the cream cheese and margarine from whipping to the light and fluffy composition that you are striving for.
Flavors vary in strength. In our experience, you should use 1/8 teaspoon of Frontier Natural Lemon Flavoring since it has a stronger taste than other lemon flavorings. If you are using another artificial lemon flavoring (which should be alcohol free) you may need to use more. Start with 1/8 teaspoon. Depending upon the strength, you may need to use as much as 1/4 teaspoon to get the appropriate “hint” of lemon flavoring in your frosting.
You may wish to perform you own taste tests to confirm the amount of lemon flavor to use in the frosting. The Cinnabon store will be glad to sell you a small container of extra frosting that you can use in your own taste tests. It is fun to do if you are having friends over! In any event, there’s no need to “stress out” over the exact quantity of lemon flavoring! Use 1/16, 1/8 teaspoon, or even none at all, and you’ll get wonderful results!
Many professionals use fondant sugar when making cream icing. However, this fine grade of sugar is not readily available and it is several times more expensive than powdered sugar. That’s why our recipe calls for 10x powdered sugar. Fortunately, 10x will give you essentially the same results.
For special occasions you may prefer to use real fondant sugar. Fondant sugar is pure cane sugar that is pulverized to 1/100th the size of normal powdered sugar grains. It is especially formulated for the baking trade for icing and candies. Since the sugar does not dissolve in the cream cheese and margarine mixture, the finer fondant sugar produces a smoother icing than can be achieved with regular 10x powdered sugar. We purchase ours at any of the several specialty baking shops in Dallas. Look in the Yellow Pages under ‘Cake Decorating Instruction and Supplies’ for a store that may carry it in your town.
If you use fondant sugar instead of 10x powdered sugar, be sure to use 1/2 pound, rather than 1 3/4 cups. Go by weight, not volume! When using 10x powdered sugar, 1 3/4 cups equals 1/2 pound.
Preparing the frosting with a KitchenAid® K45SS Mixer is straightforward if you follow the directions that we’ve provided. We always use a digital kitchen timer as we time each step of the frosting’s preparation. Let the cream cheese and margarine sit in the mixing bowl for about a half an hour after you’ve removed them from the refrigerator. Use the flat beater to initially cream together the margarine and cream cheese, then switch to the wire whip for the remaining steps. Refrigerate the frosting after you finish preparing it. No KitchenAid mixer? I’m sure you can achieve very good results with only an electric hand mixer!
Several of our readers in other countries have asked for a listing of the ingredients with quantities using metric units. Sorry, I’ve not yet had a chance to do all of the conversions. However, here are some conversion factors to help you get started.
1 ounce (oz liquid) = 29.56 ml
1 cup (liquid) = 8 oz (liquid) = 236.5 ml
1 teaspoon (tsp or t) = 1/6 oz (liquid) = 4.927 ml
1 Tablespoon (Tbsp or T) = 3 teaspoons = 1/2 oz (liquid) = 14.78 ml
Solid Mass (Weight):
1 oz (mass) = 28.35 grams (g)
1 pound (lb) = 16 oz (mass) = 453.6 grams (g)
Oddly enough, a level teaspoon, a level tablespoon, and a level cup measure are used in America to portion out both solids and liquids. No one ever claimed that Imperial units made much sense! In cases where these measures are used for solids, I’ve also provided the equivalent weight, using a laboratory grade scale. This will help when one must convert to metric.
If you successfully convert the listing of ingredients to reasonable (and practical) metric equivalents, please send me an email with your results and I’ll publish them here, along with your name in lights! Thank you!
If you have any other comments, suggestions, or tips, please write this chef at Ron@GordonFamily.com. We’ll also do our best to answer any further questions that you may have. If you’ve prepared this recipe and have enjoyed the results, please leave us a comment in our online Guest Book. Thanks!