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Sourdough Cinnamon Rolls (soft & not too sweet!)


sourdough cinnamon rolls

Sourdough cinnamon rolls are perhaps one of the most exquisite creations to grace our taste buds since the advent of sourdough bread. The sweet stiff sourdough starter produces a soft and fluffy texture that simply melts in your mouth. The cinnamon filling is perfectly balanced in its sweetness, making these rolls delightful on their own. However, don’t hesitate to pair them with my delectable cream cheese frosting that perfectly complements their flavor.

Personally, I find the processed, mass-produced cinnamon rolls found in grocery stores to be excessively sugary for my taste. These homemade sourdough cinnamon rolls, on the other hand, are on a whole new level and make for a fun, special holiday creation, or just for the pure joy of it!

What’s even better about this recipe is that no fancy equipment is required. Unlike most recipes that require a stand mixer, this one can be effortlessly prepared using only a silicone spatula and your own two hands.

sourdough cinnamon roll

What is a sweet stiff sourdough starter?

A sweet stiff sourdough starter is a type of sourdough starter that is characterized by its low hydration and sweetness. Stiff starters typically have around 50% hydration or less, which makes them thicker and more dough-like in texture. The sweetness comes from the sugar and the natural fermentation process of the starter, which produces sugars that give the dough a sweet flavor.

Sweet stiff sourdough starters are great to use in sweet recipes where you don’t want the sourdough tang to overpower the flavor. They also produce a denser texture, which is lovely in sweet recipes. The best part about it, is it still holds all that wonderful gut nutrition!

If you want to learn more about sweet stiff starters make sure to check out my informative article and recipe here!

sweet sourdough starter

Tips and Modifications

  • This is an overnight recipe where the dough will be made in the evening and baked the next morning. However, you can make the dough, shape the cinnamon rolls, and refrigerate it for up to 24 hours.
  • In this recipe, I have used both coconut sugar and brown sugar. Both work nicely!
  • Ensure your sweet stiff starter has doubled in size before using it, I typically make the starter in the morning to be ready by the evening. Alternatively, if you would like to mix the dough in the morning, you can make the sweet starter the evening before.
  • This is a 8-12-hour bulk rise at room temperature (68 degrees F). You may need more or less time depending on the temperature of your environment. For instance: I started at 7 PM and it was ready at 8 AM the following morning (66 degrees F).
  • Can the dough be long fermented? Yes! The dough itself can be refrigerated for up to 24 hours. You can also shape the cinnamon rolls, place them in their baking pan, cover them with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for up to 24 hours.
sourdough cinnamon rolls

How to make sourdough cinnamon rolls (step-by-step)

Baker’s schedule option 1:
  • Make the sweet stiff starter the morning of, and mix the dough in the evening (around 7 pm) to bake for the following morning.
Baker’s schedule option 2:
  • Make the sweet stiff starter the evening before you mix the dough. Mix the dough in the morning, shape and refrigerate overnight, and bake the following morning.

*Cinnamon rolls freeze well. They can be shaped and placed in the baking pan, covered with plastic wrap, and frozen for up to 3 months.

To bake frozen cinnamon rolls, remove from the freezer, remove the plastic wrap and replace it with fresh plastic wrap, and let them rest for 8-10 hours. Bake as instructed.

Equipment needed

Ingredients

For the sweet stiff starter

  • 15 grams active sourdough starter
  • 15 grams of sugar
  • 30 grams of water
  • 60 grams of all-purpose flour

Tip: there will be about 5 grams of leftover sweet starter. This is to account for any sticking to the sides of the jar. It is better to have more than less.

Dough

  • 310 grams (2 & 1/2 cups) of all-purpose flour
  • 84 grams (6 tablespoons) of unsalted butter (melted)
  • 100 grams (1/2 a cup) of sweet stiff starter from above
  • 1 large egg
  • 160 grams (2/3 cup) of milk
  • 50 grams (1/4 cup) of sugar
  • 5 grams (1 teaspoon) of salt

The Cinnamon Filling

  • 4 tablespoons of softened unsalted butter
  • 2 tablespoons of cinnamon
  • 1/4 cup of sugar
  • 1/2 cup of brown sugar (I’ve used coconut sugar as well)
  • 1 tablespoon of AP flour

The Frosting

  • 4 oz of cream cheese (brought to room temperature)
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter (brought to room temperature)
  • 1-2 cups of powdered sugar (adjust to your preferred sweetness)
  • 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract

*Optional: add a tablespoon of milk to the frosting to adjust to the desired consistency

How to make the sweet stiff starter:

  • To a clean jar add the active sourdough starter.
  • Next, add the water and stir until the water becomes “milky.”
  • Then add the sugar and stir until most of it has dissolved.
  • Lastly, add the flour and mix until no traces of flour are left. The stiff starter is dough-like and best mixed with a fork, your hand, or a silicone spatula.
  • Cover the jar loosely with the cap and the starter should double in size within 8-12 hours.
sweet starter

Step 1: Mix the Dough

*Ensure your sweet starter has doubled in size before mixing the dough*

  • In a small saucepan, heat the milk and butter over low to medium heat until the butter melts. Allow the mixture to cool for 5-10 minutes.
  • Then, add the mixture to a mixing bowl and dissolve your sweet starter and the sugar in the mixture by mixing it with a fork. It is okay if the sweet starter does not dissolve completely.
  • Next, add your egg, flour, and salt. Mix with a silicone spatula for best results. It will be wet and sticky.
  • Cover with plastic wrap and let it rest for 30-45 minutes.
sourdough cinnamon roll dough

Step 2: Knead the Dough

  • If you have a stand mixer, by all means, use it! You can knead the dough on low to medium for 5-8 minutes. Though, the dough can be kneaded by hand for 5-8 minutes. Use flour to help with the stickiness. It will come together nicely with a little elbow grease and patience!
  • Place it in a bowl coated with butter, cover it, and let it rest overnight (8-12 hours).
  • Optional: perform 1 stretch and fold an hour into the bulk rise (this helps with a better overall rise especially if kneaded by hand).
sourdough cinnamon roll dough kneaded

Step 3: Roll out your dough

  • The next morning, lightly flour your work surface.
  • Remove the dough from the bowl, shape it into a rough rectangle shape, and let it rest for 10 minutes (this is to relax the gluten and make rolling easier).
  • Lightly flour your rolling pin and your dough and begin to roll the dough out into approximately a 16×12 rectangle.

Step 4: Make the cinnamon filling

  • In a medium-sized mixing bowl, use your silicone spatula to mix 3 tablespoons of softened butter by itself (set the 4th tablespoon of butter aside). Once a creamy texture, add the cinnamon, sugar, brown sugar, & flour and mix well.
  • Melt the 1 tablespoon of sofened butter and brush the dough with this cooled melted butter. I find this helps the mixture spread better. You can also add a teaspoon of melted butter to the mixture to help soften it a bit.
  • Using your silicone spatula or spoon, begin to spread the mixture on the dough. Press it into the dough lightly using your hands. Leave about a 1/2-1 inch border to the edge.

Step 5: Roll and cut the dough

  • Starting from the long side (16 inches) begin to roll the dough tightly, pressing down lightly at each roll. TIP: If you find the dough is too sticky lightly flour your hands to help.
  • Once fully rolled, make sure the roll is seam side down and begin to lightly mark with your bench scraper 2-inch cuts (totaling 8 rolls). I use a tape measure for this, it really helps!
  • After the marks are made, begin to cut each roll and place them in your baking pan lined with parchment paper.
  • Cover with oiled plastic wrap and allow the rolls to sit for 2-3 more hours in the pan or until they have puffed up. Tip: turn your oven on and then off to create a warm environment for the rolls to rise.

Step 6: Bake the rolls & make the frosting

  • Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F and bake your cinnamon rolls on the middle rack for 35-40 minutes. Check your rolls at 35 minutes. They should be lightly golden brown and fully cooked through the center.
  • During this time, make the frosting. In a large mixing bowl, add the softened cream cheese and butter.
  • Using your electric hand mixer, beat the cream cheese and butter together on medium speed. Mix until they are well combined and have a smooth, creamy texture. This should take about 2-3 minutes.
  • Pour the vanilla extract in and mix until combined.
  • Reduce the speed of your hand mixer to low. Slowly add the powdered sugar, about one cup at a time. This prevents a sugary mess and ensures that the powdered sugar is incorporated evenly into the mixture.
  • After each addition of powdered sugar, increase the mixer speed to medium and continue to blend until the frosting becomes smooth and well combined. Be sure to scrape down the sides of the bowl with a spatula to ensure even mixing (optional: adjust the consistency by adding a teaspoon of milk at a time).
  • Once the rolls are done baking, allow them to cool for 15 minutes in the pan before transferring them to a wire rack to add the icing. Important: allowing the cinnamon rolls to rest will ensure all the dough has absorbed the butter .
  • These are best enjoyed the day of, but you can store them on your countertop in an airtight container for 2 days or up to a week in your refrigerator.
Sourdough cinnamon rolls - crumb

More sourdough dessert recipes:

sourdough cinnamon rolls
Print Recipe
5 from 3 votes

Sourdough cinnamon rolls (soft & not too sweet!)

This sourdough cinnamon rolls recipe is easy (no stand mixer needed) and the result is amazing! Soft, delicious & not too sweet.
Prep Time35 minutes
Cook Time40 minutes
Proofing time12 hours
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Keyword: sourdough cinnamon rolls
Servings: 8 rolls

Equipment

  • Mixing bowl
  • Bench scraper
  • Silicone Scraper
  • Round 8-10 inch baking pan spring form pan or cast iron
  • Parchment paper
  • Rolling Pin
  • Silicone saptula
  • Food scale
  • electric hand mixer

Ingredients

For the sweet stiff starter

  • 15 grams active sourdough starter
  • 30 grams water
  • 15 grams sugar
  • 60 grams all-purpose flour

For the dough

  • 310 grams (2 & 1/2 cups) all-purpose flour
  • 84 grams (6 tablespoons) unsalted butter melted
  • 100 grams (1/2 cup) sweet stiff starter from above
  • 1 large egg
  • 160 grams (2/3 cup) milk
  • 50 grams (1/4 cup) sugar
  • 5 grams (1 teaspoon) salt

For the cinnamon filling

  • 4 tablespoons softened unsalted butter
  • 2 tablespoons cinnamon
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar (coconut sugar works well too)
  • 1 tablespoon AP flour

For the frosting

  • 4 oz cream cheese brought to room temperature
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter brought to room temperature
  • 1-2 cups powdered sugar (adjust to your preferred sweetness)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Instructions

How to make the sweet stiff starter:

  • To a clean jar add the active sourdough starter.
  • Next, add the water and stir until the water becomes “milky.”
  • Then add the sugar and stir until most of it has dissolved.
  • Lastly, add the flour and mix until no traces of flour are left. The stiff starter is dough-like and best mixed with a fork, your hand, or a silicone spatula.
  • Cover the jar loosely with the cap and the starter should double in size within 8-12 hours.

Make the dough & knead

  • Ensure your sweet starter has doubled in size before mixing the dough. It will need 8-12 hours to rise. Refer to "notes" section to choose when to mix it.
  • In a small saucepan, heat the milk and butter over low to medium heat until the butter melts. Allow the mixture to cool for 5-10 minutes.
  • Once cooled add the mixture to a mixing bowl and dissolve your sweet starter & the sugar in the mixture by mixing it with a fork. It's okay if the starter does not dissolve completely.
  • Next, add your egg, flour, and salt. Mix with a silicone spatula for best results. It will be wet and sticky.
  • Cover with plastic wrap and let it rest for 30 minutes.
  • After 30 minutes, knead the dough into a smooth ball (5-8 minutes). Add additional flour during this process to assist with stickiness. It will come together nicely with a little elbow grease and patience!
  • Place the dough in a generously coated buttered bowl and cover it with plastic wrap and let it sit overnight (8-12 hours).
  • Optional: perform 1 stretch and fold an hour into the bulk rise (this helps with a better overall rise especially if kneading by hand).

Roll out the dough

  • The next morning, lightly flour your work surface to prevent sticking.
  • Remove the dough from the bowl and shape it into a rough rectangle shape and let it rest for 10 minutes (this is to relax the gluten and make rolling easier).
  • Lightly flour your rolling pin and your dough and begin to roll the dough out into approximately a 16×12 rectangle.

Make the cinnamon roll filling (& roll and cut your dough)

  • In a medium-sized mixing bowl, use your silicone spatula to mix 3 tablespoons (save 1 tablespoon for brushing the dough) of the softened butter by itself. Once a creamy texture, add the cinnamon, sugar, brown sugar, flour, and mix well.
  • Take the 1 tablespoon of softened butter and melt it. Using a pastry brush, brush the dough with the cooled melted butter. I find this helps the mixture spread better. You can also add a teaspoon of melted butter to the mixture to help soften it a bit.
  • Using your silicone spatula or spoon, begin to spread the mixture on the dough. Lightly press the mixture into the dough with your hands. Leave about a 1/2-1 inch border to the edge
  • Starting from the long side (16 inches) begin to roll the dough tightly, pressing down lightly at each roll. TIP: If you find the dough is too sticky lightly flour your hands to help.
  • Once fully rolled, make sure the roll is seam side down and begin to lightly mark with your bench scraper 2-inch cuts (totaling 8 rolls).
  • After the marks are made, begin to cut each roll and place them in your baking pan lined with parchment paper.
  • Cover with oiled plastic wrap and allow the rolls to sit for 2-3 more hours in the pan or until they have puffed up. Tip: turn your oven on and then off to create a warm environment for the rolls to rise.

Bake your rolls & make the frosting

  • Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F and bake your cinnamon rolls on the middle rack for 35-40 minutes. Check your rolls at 35 minutes. They should be lightly golden brown and fully cooked through the center.
  • During this time, make the frosting. Using your electric hand mixer, beat the cream cheese and butter together on medium speed in a medium mixing bowl . Mix until they are well combined and have a smooth, creamy texture. This should take about 2-3 minutes.
  • Pour the vanilla extract in and mix until combined.
  • Reduce the speed of your hand mixer to low. Slowly add the powdered sugar, about one cup at a time. This prevents a sugary mess and ensures that the powdered sugar is incorporated evenly into the mixture.
  • After each addition of powdered sugar, increase the mixer speed to medium and continue to blend until the frosting becomes smooth and well combined. Be sure to scrape down the sides of the bowl with a spatula to ensure even mixing
    (optional: adjust the consistency by adding a teaspoon of milk at a time).
  • Once the rolls are done baking, allow them to cool for 15 minutes in the pan before transferring them to a wire rack to add the icing. Important: allowing the cinnamon rolls to rest will ensure all the dough has absorbed the butter .
  • These are best enjoyed the day of, but you can store them on your countertop in an airtight container for 2 days or up to a week in your refrigerator.

Notes

Baker’s schedule option 1:
    • Make the sweet stiff starter the morning of, and mix the dough in the evening (around 7 pm) to bake for the following morning.
Baker’s schedule option 2:
    • Make the sweet stiff starter the evening before you mix the dough. Mix the dough in the morning, shape and refrigerate overnight, and bake the following morning.
Sweet starter: Ensure it has doubled in size before baking with it. There will be 5 grams of leftover sweet starter. This is to account for any sticking to the sides of the jar. It is better to have more than less.
The frosting: optional: add a tablespoon of milk to the frosting to adjust to the desired consistency.
How to freeze: Cinnamon rolls freeze well. They can be shaped and placed in the baking pan, covered with plastic wrap, and frozen for up to 3 months.
To bake frozen cinnamon rolls, remove from the freezer, remove the plastic wrap and replace it with fresh plastic wrap, and let them rest for 8-10 hours. Bake as instructed.

 

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Comments

  1. These are my favorite! Beautiful pictures!

    1. Thank you Laura! Yep heavenly!

  2. I just made these sourdough cinnamon rolls and they turned out so soft and delicious! The flavor was perfect – not too sweet, but still so satisfying. I will definitely be making these again and again. Thank you for sharing this recipe!5 stars