Cinnamon Rolls

Another one of my mother’s recipes, but this one is by far one of the best ones ever. The recipe originally came from a family-run dairy and bakery, called Bergey’s dairy. We used to get them on Saturday mornings when my brother and I were little as there was a shop near our mom’s house. Eventually, mom decided to get a copy of the recipe for herself and these have been a family breakfast staple ever since.

They are really easy to make, but you just need to be patient! The best way to do them is to make the dough the night before, and wake up early to roll them out and bake them. Your entire house will smell wonderful as they are rising and baking. My mother can attest to the number of times I woke up from the smell and came downstairs to help her finish making them. And by helping, I mean eating the icing by the spoonful. But if you have kids, these are a simple way to get them involved in the kitchen, as they are pretty much foolproof.

These are best served still warm from the oven, but will keep for a day or two if kept in an airtight container. Most people like them just fine at room temperature, but I love to stick them in the microwave and reheat for about 15 seconds.


  • 1/2 cup very warm water
  • 2 envelopes active dry yeast
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 cup sour cream, heated
  • 1/2 cup (115 grams) butter, at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 4 cups flour
  • 1/4 cup (60 grams) butter, very soft – nearly melted, really
  • 1/2 – 2/3 cups brown sugar, depending on how the dough is rolled
  • 1 Tablespoon cinnamon
  • raisins
  • icing sugar, sifted
  • milk
  • vanilla


1. In a small bowl, combine the warm water, sugar, and yeast. Let sit for at least 10 minutes. If the yeast does not foam, it is either too old or the milk was too warm, so dump the mixture and start again.

2. In large bowl, combine the heated sour cream and butter. Once mixed, add the salt and eggs. Gradually mix in the four cups of flour until the dough forms a soft, slightly sticky ball. Cover the bowl with a lid or some plastic wrap and put in the refrigerator overnight. When you get the dough in the morning, it will have doubled in size, so be sure your bowl is big enough that it has room to grow.

3. The next morning, tip the dough out onto a floured surface and with your rolling pin, roll the dough into a large rectangle about 1/4 inch thick.

4. Once the dough is rolled out, use the very soft butter to coat the top of the dough, spreading it with a spatula (or your hands, if you don’t mind getting a bit messy).  Mix the brown sugar and cinnamon in a small bowl (feel free to experiment with the ratio of brown sugar to cinnamon), and sprinkle the mixture over the buttered dough, completely coating the entire surface.

5. Sprinkle the dough with raisins, spreading them out as evenly as possible. You can add as much or as little as you’d prefer. Then gently press the raisins into the surface by grazing your rolling pin over them, being careful that you don’t actually roll the dough out more. This will help the raisins stay in place when you roll up the dough, otherwise they’ll all just fall out as you roll.

6. Starting at the longest edge closest to you, roll up the dough into a spiral, making sure that you do it evenly. Once everything is rolled up, seal up the edge by pinching the dough together. It also helps to put a bit of butter on the final edge to help it stay in place. The ends of the roll are usually kind of flimsy, so I sort of pat the ends of the roll as if I were straightening a pile of papers, to sort of “beef up” the end bits. (I realize that it’s a terrible description, but it will probably make more sense when you do it.)

7. Using a serrated knife, cut the roll in half, then each half into six rolls, giving you a total of twelve. You can get a few more out of the batch if you roll the dough out in a rectangle that is longer than it is wide, so you can slice more rolls. I managed to get eighteen out of this batch, and they were still pretty big.

8. Place each of the slices onto a baking sheet lined with baking paper, or into a glass baking dish (as seen in the background). Be sure to leave quite a bit of space in between them as they will need plenty of room to rise, and they’ll grow a bit more when baked as well – a good rule of thumb is to keep them about 2 inches apart. (The rolls in the picture above are in mid-rise, so they’re a bit bigger than what you’ll see when you first cut them.)

9. Place the baking trays in a warm place to rise for about an hour, or until the rolls double in size. As I’ve mentioned before, if you don’t have a warm place, you can put them in a cool oven with a pan of warm water on the bottom. 

10. Preheat the oven to 350°F (175°C). Bake the rolls for 15 – 20 minutes until they start to turn a light gold color. Be sure not to overbake, or else the outside gets a hard crust, which you definitely don’t want on these. Remove from the oven and let cool for about 5 – 10 minutes.

11. Mix together the icing sugar, vanilla, and milk to create a really runny icing. Add the liquids a VERY small amount at a time – it doesn’t take as much as you think. 1/2 cup icing sugar to 4 teaspoons of milk makes a pretty good starting point. It may be easiest to mix the milk and icing sugar first, then add a few drops of vanilla once you get close to the right consistency. If you dribble some off of a spoon back into the bowl, the icing from the spoon should disappear immediately back into the rest.

12. Drizzle the icing all over the still slightly warm buns. (If the rolls are too hot, your icing will melt right off/disappear, so make sure you’ve allowed them to cool for a few minutes.) Serve them up with a nice glass of milk/coffee/tea, and enjoy.

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