Masa Madre Cinnamon Rolls


Leavened bread has been around since Ancient Egyptian times. Mother Nature is key in developing what we know as yeasted bread. 

It is believed that leavened bread was first created when bread dough was forgotten about and left in the sun. It fermented and when it was baked, lovely air pockets freckled the bread.

 Another theory is that beer was mixed into the bread dough, causing the dough to aerate and lift. Whichever way it first occurred, bacteria are the ones responsible for the creation of leavened bread.

 Bacteria eat the maltose in flour, creating carbon. The carbon fills the dough with gas bubbles making it expand and puff.

All too often I reach for a pouch of commercial yeast to leaven my bread. This time, I wanted to use flour, water, time, and Mother Nature.

These cinnamon rolls are made with sourdough starter to give them their fluffy and aerated texture. These rolls aren't sour. They have a slight tang that pairs well with the sweetness of the filling.

Taking a step back from the baking process is something I want to practice more, and sourdough is a great way to do that. I operate as the hand that combines everything together, and nature's hand does the rest. Since this dough is made with sourdough, it takes substantial time for the dough to rise. Patience is key.

 Life begins to thrive inside the dough. It feeds itself with the ingredients from the earth, much like you and I. The bowl of dough becomes a terrarium, perched on the kitchen counter. You take care of it for a short time, and if you do well, it becomes a wonderful piece of bread.

These cinnamon rolls require a lot of time to make, but a lot of that time is hands-off. I recommend feeding your sourdough starter at night, 2 days before you want to make these cinnamon rolls.

Also, these cinnamon rolls can easily be made dairy-free! I've tried both methods and they are both equally delicious!

Baking Schedule:

Friday night:
Feed starter before bed.

Saturday Morning:
Mix dough and let it rise.

Saturday afternoon/evening:
Prepare the filling and assemble the cinnamon rolls. 
Slice and ferment overnight in the fridge

Sunday Morning:
Bake the rolls and enjoy!


Yield: 7 cinnamon rolls + 2 edge pieces

Bread Dough:
  • ½ cup + 2 Tablespoons (150g) warm whole milk, or dairy-free milk
  • 7 Tablespoons (100g) melted butter, or melted coconut oil
  • 1 (46g) egg
  • heaping ¼ cup (65g) ripe sourdough starter
  • 3 ½ Tablespoons (77g) honey
  • 2 ½ cups + 2 Tablespoons (355g) bread flour
  • 1 teaspoon (4g) salt
  • ¼ cup (50g) dark brown sugar
  • 1 Tablespoon (5g) cocoa powder
  • 1 Tablespoon (7g) ground cinnamon
  • pinch of salt
  • 2-3 Tablespoons (28g-42g) butter, or dairy-free butter
  • ⅓ cup (81g) unsweetened greek yogurt, or dairy-free yogurt unsweetened yogurt
  • 3-4 Tablespoons powdered sugar
  • a dash of vanilla
  • a pinch of salt

Feeding the starter:
  • Feed the starter (100% hydration) at night so that it's active and ready to use the following morning.
Making the dough:
  • The following morning:
  • In the bowl of a stand mixer, whisk together: milk, melted butter, egg, sourdough starter, and honey. Mix until incorporated. 
  • Pour the flour and salt on top of the wet ingredients, using the dough hook attachment mix the dough at low speed. Once the flour is more absorbed, mix at medium speed.
  • Mix for about 7 minutes, or until the dough is smooth and elastic.
  • Place the dough into a lightly greased bowl and cover with a damp towel.
  • Set a timer for an hour to begin the first fold.
  • The dough will need to be folded four times, once per hour. 
  • To fold the dough lift one portion up from the bottom to the middle and press it into the center. 
  • Give the bowl a quarter turn and repeat until all sides have been lifted and pressed into the middle. Think of it as wrapping a square gift.
  • Set an hour timer after each fold. Repeat until you have completed four sets of folds.
Bulk rise:
  • Cover the dough with a damp towel to rest an additional 4 hours, or until nearly doubled in size. 
Prepare the filling:
  • whisk all the filling ingredients together in a small bowl, except for the butter. set the sugar mixture aside.
  • Set out the few tablespoons of butter on a plate or piece of parchment. set aside.
Assembling the cinnamon rolls:
  • Grease a large cake pan or baking pan and line the bottom with parchment paper. Set aside.
  • On a clean work surface roll the dough into a rectangle, 15 inches long and 9 ½ inches wide. Flour the rolling pin and surface as little as possible.
  • Spread the butter onto the surface of the dough using a pastry brush or butter knife.
  • Sprinkle the filling over the dough evenly and press it lightly into the dough using your hands or rolling pin.
  • Roll the dough from the left end to the right end. Don't roll length-wise. I like to roll my cinnamon rolls like this to get a well-defined spiral.
  • With a serrated knife, slice off the ends of the roll. Make sure to use a sawing motion to prevent the spiral from getting squished. Don't throw those end pieces away, you can bake them in muffin tins! 
  • With a serrated knife cut the roll into 7 even pieces.
  • Place the cut cinnamon rolls onto the prepared baking dish.
  • Cover tightly and place the rolls in the fridge overnight.
Baking time:
  • In the morning, place the cinnamon rolls in a warm spot. Let them sit there for about 1-2 hours, they should puff slightly. 
  • Preheat the oven to 375F° and bake for 20-25 minutes. 
The glaze:
  • While they are baking prepare the glaze.
  • mix together all of the glaze ingredients and adjust to taste if needed.
  • Let the cinnamon rolls sit for about 10 minutes before glazing.
  • The yogurt glaze is not shelf-stable, so I suggest consuming the glazed cinnamon rolls upon serving. If you do not plan on eating all of the cinnamon rolls the same day, glaze those you want to consume and save the remaining yogurt glaze in the fridge for future consumption. 
  • My household is tiny, so I freeze the leftover cinnamon rolls in an airtight container and reheat them in the oven at 350F° for about 7-10 minutes. I take the remaining glaze from the fridge and top them after they've come out of the oven. They taste just as delicious as the day they were baked!
  • You can store unglazed cinnamon rolls at room temperature in an airtight container. They will stay fresh for about 2 days. I've actually found that the dairy-free version holds up best longer!
Enjoy! If you made this recipe post it to Instagram Instagram free icon using the #ingrainedkitchen hashtag and mentioning @ingrainedkitchen


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