Every once in a while, it’s fun to break the rules. Take these High Rise Cinnamon Rolls, for instance. Generally speaking, sweet rolls are usually baked close together, producing a bunch of puffy rolls in one even layer. But if you change just a few things about those traditional recipes, you wind up with tall-spired cinnamon rolls with crispy edges and soft centers.
High Rise Cinnamon Rolls are my take on the rolls at The Upper Crust Bakery in Austin, Texas. Whenever I visit my sister, Emily, down there, I just have to have one. Rather than being baked together, theirs are baked in muffin tins—crispy edges and soft centers, y’all!
Getting these cinnamon rolls to turn out like those that inspired them wasn’t as easy as just placing the rolls in muffin cups and letting them rise. Nope! I did that for round one and ended up with flat rolls. After doing a little more research, I set out to alter my usual method.
The simplest (but ultimately, most dramatic) change is in the rolling. Once your yeast dough is made, risen once, flattened into a rectangle, and filled, it’s time to roll it up. Traditionally, the sheet of dough is rolled starting at a long edge. Here, we roll the dough from one of the short edges. This allows for each roll to have a longer spiral.
Once the dough is rolled into a cylinder, slice it into a dozen pieces. Working with one at a time, pick it up and gently press the bottom center upward before placing the roll in a greased muffin cup. This small amount of pressure encourages the rolls to expand up instead of out during their second rise.
After the rolls have spiraled upward, bake them for twenty minutes or so—they should be deeply golden. And look at those tall spires! Some of them may start to topple over a bit, but I kind of love that no two are exactly alike.
While you could certainly top these High Rise Cinnamon Rolls with a quick glaze or cream cheese frosting, I take another note from Upper Crust here and dip each in butter and cinnamon-sugar! The contrast between the caramelized cinnamon filling and the crunchy granules on the outside is absolute heaven.
High Rise Cinnamon Rolls
makes 12 rolls
3/4 cup whole milk
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
2 1/4 teaspoons (1 packet) active dry yeast
1 3/4-2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour, divided
1/2 cup bread flour
1 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
1 large egg + 1 large egg yolk, beaten
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
1/3 cup light brown sugar, packed
4 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
1 cup granulated sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
Make the dough. In a small saucepan, heat whole milk and butter until hot to the touch, about 115F. Pour into a large mixing bowl. Stir in sugar. Sprinkle the yeast over the top. Let sit for 5-10 minutes, until the yeast is bubbly. If your yeast doesn’t bubble, it’s dead. Discard the mixture and start again with new yeast.
In a small mixing bowl, whisk together 1 3/4 cup all-purpose flour, bread flour, and salt. Once the yeast has bloomed, use a silicone spatula to stir in flour mixture. Stir in eggs. Add more flour in 2 tablespoon increments, just until the dough pulls away from the side of the bowl. I usually need 4-6 tablespoons more flour, but you may add up to 8 tablespoons (1/2 cup) depending on your dough.
Turn dough onto a floured surface and knead for 5-6 minutes, until smooth. Place dough ball in an oiled bowl and cover in plastic wrap. Let rise in a warm, draft-free environment for 90 minutes-2 hours, until doubled in bulk.
Grease a 12-cup standard muffin tin. Set aside.
Make the filling. In a small bowl, use a fork to mash butter, light brown sugar, and cinnamon into a paste.
Punch dough down. Turn it out onto a floured surface. Roll the dough out into an 11×17-inch rectangle. Spread the filling in an even layer over the top, leaving a 1/2-inch border on all sides. Starting with one of the short sides, tightly roll the dough into a cylinder. Smooth any seams with your thumbs. Slice into 12 rolls. Place the rolls in the muffin cups, lightly pushing up the middle of each roll. Loosely drape the pan with plastic wrap and place in a warm, draft-free environment to rise for another 45 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 350F. Remove the plastic wrap from the pan. Bake rolls 20-25 minutes, until browned with lofty spiraled centers. Let rolls cool in the pan on a rack for 5-10 minutes. Remove rolls from the pan and let cool completely on the rack.
Prepare the coating. Melt butter in the microwave or in a pot on the stove. In a shallow dish, stir together sugar and cinnamon. Working with one roll at a time, dip each in butter and then roll or sprinkle them with cinnamon-sugar. Serve immediately.
Coated rolls will keep in an airtight container at room temperature for up to two days. Uncoated rolls may be frozen. Thaw and coat before serving.