Grandma Matson’s Sexy Cinnamon Rolls — Made 5 Ways

Last Bite Old Fashion Cinnamon Roll Bake This Cake

Is it my imagination? Or are Grandma Matson’s Homemade Cinnamon Rolls too sexy for the pan? Oh yeah! Bring ’em on baby! Vintage style and all tucked into cute little heart-shaped pans — though they taste just as awesome baked in round and sheet pans too! haha! πŸ™‚ And we’ve prepared them 5 different ways — kinda like a cinnamon roll slap-down!

Homestyle Yeast Cinnamon Rolls recipe by Bake This Cake

(psst! watch for some secret ingredients — like cocoa-in-the-dough and in the filling.)

Cinnamon Rolls in Heart-shaped pans Bake This Cake

Special Gift: Grandma Matson is not my own grandma and I never had the pleasure of meeting her Grandma Matson's recipe box Bake This Cake— but her grandson gave me the special gift of her well-worn recipe box and now I feel like I know her. I am so honored to have her little treasure box in my kitchen! And what a delightful collection of well-worn recipe cards!

(And won’t it be fun to bake something for her grandson with one of his grandma’s own time-tested recipes?)

Spring rain is here! And it seems to be bringing us great things — like big floppy peach roses in the garden. So I’m thinking this spring season might be a great time to gather friends round the kitchen to have a go at a breakfast-making party gone wild with these tender scratch cinnamon rolls locked with butter and honey and sprinkles of cinnamon and cocoa.

Big Peach Rose Bake This Cake

Everyone’s a Winner! We had an elaborate taste testing of these little goodies to determine the best of the variety, however, we ended up with a 5-way tie for the winner with all votes cast evenly (though I noticed some votes were for all choices – ha!). So you’ll have to choose — or just make a little of each for your own taste testing party. πŸ™‚

One thing’s for sure. These little swirls of old-fashioned breakfast sweets will wake up the house with a smile!

Jump photo by Leslie Macchiarella for Bake This Cake

SLOW COOKING WARNING: This is a lovely yeast recipe that requires a one-hour first rise and then a half-hour to one-hour second rise and then about a half hour for baking. Oh, and toss the bread machine (for the moment) cause we’ll be doin’ this old-school style — by hand. So factor in an extraΒ 10 minutes of arm-toning time to knead that dough and get your meditation game on. πŸ™‚

Dr Lepper's Bottles photo by Leslie Macchiarella

Preserving special vintage treasures from the past!

Keep it peaceful and serene while you knuckle down on the dough OR jack up the music! but prepare to fill your home with the amazing aroma of fresh flowers from the garden banging up against the incredible smell of rising yeast rolls and cinnamon!

Grandma Matson's Cinnamon Rolls in various pans BakeThisCake

Choose Your Lane! We’re making these rolls with 5 different fillings (although you can choose just one if you like): 1) butter and cinnamon; 2) honey and cinnamon; 3) butter and cinnamon and honey; 4) butter and cinnamon and sugar and honey; AND 5) butter and cinnamon and sugar and honey and cocoa! (I won’t say that you could throw some chopped pecans in there because I might just pass out from overwhelm!) whoo hoo! We’re also baking them into different pans to show you how it can go!

Grandma Matson's Cinnamon Rolls in Heart Pan Frosted sideview Bake This Cake

Grandma Matson’s Cinnamon Rolls:

Tools Needed for Cinnamon Rolls:
Cooking spray (or butter, for greasing dough bowl and pans)
2 heart-shaped pan(s) (we used 8″ and 6″) or 1 round 10″ pan, all should be 2″ deep
Small bowl or cup (for warming egg with warm water)
Small sauce pot (for scalding milk)
Large bowl for mixing all ingredients
Large wooden spoon for initial stirring of dough
Measuring cups and spoons
Elbow grease (for kneading dough) πŸ™‚
Pastry brush (or clean hardware brush, or knife, for brushing butter on the rolls)
Plastic wrap (or clean cotton dish towel) for covering rising dough)

Ingredients for Cinnamon Rolls:
1 large egg, room temperature
1/2 cup scalded cooled milk
1/2 cup warm water
2-1/2 teaspoons active-rise or rapid-rise yeast
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup honey (we used clover)
4 cups all-purpose flour
2 Tablespoons butter, chilled, chopped
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon cocoa powder
Extra butter for brushing baked rolls

Okay! Grab a pretty cup of coffee and let’s hit this road running!

Heart Foam Handsome Coffee photo by Leslie Macchiarella for BakeThisCake

Directions for Cinnamon Rolls:

Place into a warm cup of water to bring to room temperature:
1 large egg (in the shell)

In a small sauce pot, bring to just scalding (not boiling, more like a simmer):
1/2 cup milk

Set the sauce pot off the heat and allow it to come to room temperature.

In a small bowl or cup, stir until dissolved (and let set for about 5 minutes):
1/2 cup warm water
2-1/2 teaspoons active-rise or rapid-rise yeast (or a packet)

In a large bowl, just add in all of the following and stir with a wooden spoon for about 1 minute:
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup honey (we used clover honey but any will do)
4 cups all-purpose flour
2 Tablespoons butter, chilled, chopped
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon cocoa powder (secret ingredient alert!)
the prepared water yeast mixture that shows bubbling action
the prepared room temperature milk
the temperature-prepared egg, fork stirred
optional: 1/8 teaspoon rapid rise yeast (this is the good luck sprinkling yeast) πŸ™‚

Cinnamon Rolls Dough BakeThisCake

Gently knuckle the dough and fold it in the bowl for about one minute and then just press and fold it in your hands for another minute. (Get a feel for it.) πŸ™‚

Place it on the counter and knead it for about 8 minutes (for a total hand-kneading time of 10 minutes). No shortcuts please. Breathe and smile while you do this. The chilled butter takes some time to melt into the dough so don’t rush and focus on LOVE!! πŸ˜€

Wash the dough bowl with warm water (to take the chill off), dry it and spray it with cooking spray.

Place the dough into the prepared bowl and lightly spray the top of the dough with cooking spray (or just smear butter round the bowl and brush the top of the dough with a bit of softened butter).

Cover the bowl with plastic wrap (or a clean cotton dish towel) and place the bowl in a warm spot.
Tip: I place the covered dough bowl in the oven with ONLY the light bulb for warmth.

Kneaded Cinnamon Roll Dough Before First Rise BakeThisCake

Kneaded Dough Before First Rise

When your dough has doubled in size after 1 hour, it will look like this…(It’s alive!)

Cinnamon Dough Rising in the Bowl Bake This Cake

Dough After 1 Hour Rise

Remove the doubled dough from the bowl and knead it gently for a minute. You might hear some bubbles pop as you do this.

Now throw the dough on a lightly floured slab (or the counter) with a tiny sprinkle of flour on top…

Dough on marble slab after first rise BakeThisCake

Roll it out into a 12″ x 16″ rectangle. (I cover a raised marble slab but a raised cutting board or a flat counter will do just as well.)

Cinnamon Roll Dough rolled over edges of marble slab BakeThisCake

Trim the rolled-out dough to be a perfect 12×16 rectangle (okay, perfection is not required).

Trim edges of Cinnamon Roll Dough Bake This Cake

Mixable or Optional Filling Ingredients for Cinnamon Rolls:
1/3 cup unsalted butter, room temperature (spreadable consistency)
2 Tablespoons Ground Cinnamon
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup honey (we used clover)
1 Tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder

Choose your weapons! (You may choose 1 or more of the below fillings):

1. spread of soft butter, sprinkle of cinnamon (the best classic style!)

2. spread of soft butter, sprinkle of cinnamon and honey (our fave, maybe!)

3. drizzle of honey and sprinkle of cinnamon (less butter but just as awesome!)

4. spread of soft butter, sprinkle of cinnamon, sprinkle of sugar AND drizzle of honey! (the best!)

5. spread of soft butter, sprinkle of cinnamon, sprinkle of cocoa powder AND a drizzle of honey (gotta be the best, come on!)

Spread The Goodness!

If you selected two different fillings, slice your rolled dough down the center before you begin so you don’t cross over the line with different fillings. πŸ™‚

Even if you are filling all rolls with the same set of ingredients, slice your rolled dough in half so that you will end up with 2 nice workable rolls of filled dough.

If you’re using any option with butter, do the butter thing first. Use a pastry brush or knife to gently brush over the entire dough with butter, then evenly sprinkle on dry ingredients.

If you’re using honey, just drizzle it over top of all ingredients in a king-of-pattern.

Here’s a photo of the honey-cinnamon rolls (on the left) and the cinnamon-sugar rolls (on the right) just before they get rolled up and cut.

Spreading Dough with Cinnamon Sugar and honey Bake This Cake

Left side honey & cinnamon, Right side butter, cinnamon & sugar

Roll up the prepared rolled dough from the outer edges toward the center divide.

Use a very sharp serrated knife (or fishing line, according to my own grandma) to slice the roll into slices. We sliced these into 1/2″ slices (for a smaller roll). If you want a tall or thick roll, cut them about 1-inch thick. They will rise to almost double their starting height if everything goes as planned. πŸ™‚

Sliced cinnamon rolls BakeThisCake

If you use honey, the roll may get slippery and you may have to re-roll each roll after you cut it, but honey fingers are kinda fun. As Pooh Bear would say, “Oh yes, I’m rumbly in my tumbly. Time for something sweet.”

Place the rolls into the prepared pan(s) to just barely touch each other (or a little separated from each other), evenly distributed throughout the pan.

Honey cinnamon rolls in pan BakeThiscake

Honey Cinnamon Rolls in the pan!

Once all the rolls are locked and loaded in the pan, it’s time for the second rise in a warm spot for about a half hour to an hour. They’re ready to bake when they have doubled (or almost doubled) in size.

Tip: The baked rolls in these photos went through a half-hour second rise (cause we could not wait to test them, but I would recommend a full one-hour for the second rise for highest possible “lift”).

The butter and cinnamon rolls are rising nicely…

Butter cinnamon rolls rising in the pan Bake This Cake

Butter Cinnamon Rolls in their 2nd rise in the pan!

Notice where the sugar was sprinkled in globs, the yeast dough gets a little puffier (cause it gets excited whenever there’s sugar around), so try to be more even-handed with your sugar sprinkles than our kids were, though I think it looks kinda cute this way. πŸ˜€

Butter Cinnamon Rolls rising close up Bake This Cake

The honey, butter and cinnamon rolls are rising nicely…

Honey cinnamon rolls rising in the pan Bake This Cake

We also made individual cinnamon rolls set apart from each other on a cookie sheet pan (although I recommend you knock them up close to each other so they stay more tender and don’t unfurl their little tails).

Individual Cinnamon Rolls Rising in the pan Bake This Cake

Set the oven rack to center position and preheat the oven to 350.

Bake at 350 for about 30 minutes to a light golden color, about 190 degrees internal temperature.

Brush the tops of the baked rolls with a little butter while they are warm.

Honey Cinnamon Rolls brushed with butter Bake This Cake

The brushed butter on top will keep the crusts soft while you prepare the frosting.

Butter Cinnamon Rolls Brushed with Butter BakeThisCake

Tools Needed for Frosting:
Medium to large mixing bowl
Electric Mixer
Measuring cups and spoons
Offset knife (or back of a spoon or any ole’ knife, for spreading frosting)

Frosting Ingredients:
1/2 cup (8 Tablespoon) unsalted butter
2 cups powdered sugar
1/2 cup cream cheese
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract, fine quality

Cream Cheese Buttercream Frosting Directions:

Remove from fridge and set on counter to come to room temperature (or nuke in the microwave for a few seconds withoutΒ the metallic wrapper ):
1/2 cup cream cheese

Beat on high-speed in an electric mixer:
1/2 cup (8 Tablespoon) unsalted butter

Beat into the creamed butter, slowly and increasing to high-speed for about 2 minutes:
2 cup powdered sugar

Beat into the frosting for about 1 minute:
the room temperature cream cheese
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract, fine quality

Frost the tops of the cooled (or lightly warm) rolls, giving them a little swirl here and there to make them ravishing!

Here are the individual cinnamon rolls lavishly frosted…yum-o!

Individual Cinnamons Rolls Frosted BakeThisCake

The honey, butter and cinnamon rolls in the 8″ pan are lookin’ fine when they are frosted…

Honey Cinnamon Rolls in pan frosted Bake This Cake

The 6-inch heart pan of cinnamon rolls are frosted and ready to serve!

Butter Cinnamon Rolls in pan frosted BakeThisCake

Serve these babies with way-chilled milk or hot latte and a bouquet of fresh spring flowers!

Colorful Flowers photo by Leslie Macchiarella for Bake This Cake

Hope you have fun with this 5-way recipe and let me know how it goes (photos of your baking adventures are always welcome)! And thank you to Grandma Matson for preserving a lovely kitchen craft tradition! Your grandson loves them!

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Leslie at beachwood overview

12 thoughts on “Grandma Matson’s Sexy Cinnamon Rolls — Made 5 Ways

  1. What egg-actly do you do with that egg? It’s still sitting in that bowl… and there are no other directions as to what to do with it after that.

  2. Pingback: Honey Ginger Spice Cake – Rustica, Streusel-Topped or Muffin Style | Bake This Cake!

  3. Seriously delicious looking and the recipe(s) make them sound divine as well. Your photos and instructions are wonderful, as is your writing. Alas I will never make these as I know I would not just eat one and I can just see the whole dang pan congealing on my hips! There is something so lovely about keeping Grandma Matson’s traditions living on though and I love that you have kept her recipe box!

    • Hey Saucy Cooks! Thank you for stopping by and for your kind words! Yes, we’re big on keeping traditions alive over here (with some modern twists). P.S. Love your cookin! It’s so inventive (and I’ve got my eye on your Carrot Ginger Coconut Soup with Coconut Crusted Shrimp – yum!) πŸ™‚

  4. Yes they are too sexy for words.
    I grew up making Cinnamon Rolls with my mom and Grandma. And as good as they were… there was nothing sexy about them. Maybe because they were made with potatoes. πŸ™‚ All I can say is you are privileged to come from some good “sexy culinary genes”.

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