How to Make a Cinnabon Classic Cinnamon Roll at Home

Improving on the original while cutting out the caloriesSure, it's easy enough to walk into a mall and shell out $3 to $4 for a classic cinnamon roll at Cinnabon, but what if you could make a version at home that was better than the original and lower in calories? It sounds too good to be true.

Click here to see How to Make Your Own Cinnabon Classic Cinnamon Roll at Home

But Devin Alexander, author of Fast Food Fix and the Biggest Loser series of cookbooks, has done just that. She says:

"My version of the Cinnabon has also become the recipe in the book [Fast Food Fix] that I've used to prove to skeptics that, in fact, these [fast- food] recipes can be duplicated to satisfy cravings with a fraction of the fat and calories of their original counterparts. Though I believe many of the [other] recipes [in the book] truly duel the originals, this one happens to travel much better than many since it doesn't need to be hot. The rolls are just fine if they sit at room temperature for several hours."

Click here to Learn How to Make More Fast Food Favorites at Home

On top of the perks of being able to bring these cinnamon rolls to, say, a picnic, without diminishing their taste, they also have fewer calories (442 calories per serving versus Cinnabon's 880 calories) and less fat (a mere six 6 grams of fat versus a whopping 36).

Now do we have your attention?

We thought so.

Click here to see How to Make White Castle Sliders at Home

Give these a shot over the weekend and get ready to enjoy some freshly baked, ooey-gooey goodness on a lazy Sunday morning without the guilt.

Credit: flickr/noamanHumble Beginnings
The first Cinnabon store opened at Sea Tac Mall in Seattle on Dec. 5, 1985, after three months of concerted effort by a consultant hired by founders Rich and Greg Komen, who set out to make "the world's best cinnamon roll."

Credit: flickr/CrispyRiceRapid Expansion
The very first franchise location opened in Pennsylvania a year later. In 1992, Cinnabon's 100th location was established in New York City, and by 2001, the total was at 500, with the opening of a franchise store in Japan. Today, there are 943 locations worldwide.

Credit: flickr/half_emptySold!
In 2004, Cinnabon became a part of Focus Brands, whose portfolio includes Carvel (the ice cream cake folks), Seattle's Best Coffee, and Schlotzsky's Deli.

Credit: iStockphoto/ThinkstockSecret #1: Quality Ingredients
OK, this one is admittedly a no-brainer, but when you're making a cinnamon roll, you have to make sure the cinnamon's damn good. Seriously. Cinnabon's founders scoured the islands of Indonesia to find the highest-quality cinnamon. That's no small feat, since according to the CIA Handbook, there are 17,508 of them.

They even bothered to come up with a name for their special cinnamon, Makara® Cinnamon, that's also a registered trademark, as you can see here.

Credit: flickr/nerissa's ringWhat to Look for at the Store
So, when you buy cinnamon at the store, what should you look for? Ideally, look for whole sticks, which will have retained more flavor and aroma than their ground counterparts. Opt for "cassia" cinnamon from Indonesia for the closest flavor to Makara®, since it has a more complex, bittersweet flavor than the other variety, "Ceylon," which comes from Sri Lanka. Then, chop it into pieces and grind it at home using a coffee grinder just before using.

Credit: flickr/Sharon DrummondSecret #2: Treat Your Ingredients with Respect
Chances are you're not going to use up all of that expensive cinnamon at once. Store the leftovers away from heat, humidity, and light, which can rob spices of their volatile oils over time, taking their potency with them.

Credit: iStockphoto/ThinkstockSecret #3: Frost Just Before Serving
While Alexander's rolls do transport well, it's hard to beat having them fresh out of the oven. That's the best time to frost them, so that the frosting melts into the buns.

Credit: flickr/Justin and EliseUseful Equipment
Alexander advises having a plastic dough scraper or brittle plastic spatula to help get all the dough out of the mixing bowl without missing an ounce. (This will make baking in general easier for you.) To that end, we'd also suggest an electric stand mixer with a dough hook.

Credit: JupiterimagesNeat Trick
When a recipe says something like, "Dust a work surface with flour," how exactly do you do that? While we wouldn't recommend trying this recipe if you're a first-time baker, if you do insist, we would like to offer this one tip.

The writer of this article once had trouble with this very aspect of baking. Then, one day, an instructor at culinary school counseled thus: Take a handful of flour, and pretend you're throwing dice.

Even Steven, every time. A bit messy, but hey, that's baking - you can't be afraid to get your hands dirty.

Credit: George DoyleAnd Before You Start
Know your oven. Every oven is different. Some ovens run hotter than their stated temperatures, while some run cooler. If you haven't tested yours out before, borrow or buy an oven thermometer and see whether yours runs North or South of the dial. And ovens also have hot spots, too, so you may have to rotate baked goods halfway through their cooking time to ensure even cooking.

If you're really new to all of this or still don't feel quite ready, click here to see Foolproof Baking Tips.

Credit: iStockphoto/ThinkstockCinnabon Classic Cinnamon Roll Recipe
- Devin Alexander, Fast Food Fix

For the frosting:

1 1/2 cups confectioners' sugar
3 tablespoons reduced-fat Neufchâtel
3 tablespoons light butter from a stick, softened
1/2 tablespoon fat-free milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

For the buns:
Butter-flavored cooking spray
2 tablespoons light butter from a stick
1 cup fat-free milk
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup artificially sweetened fat-free vanilla yogurt
1 egg
1 egg white
One 1/4-ounce packet active dry yeast
4 cups unbleached flour, plus more as needed
1 teaspoon plus 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons corn syrup
3 tablespoons packed brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

For the frosting:

In a mixing bowl, combine the sugar, Neufchâtel, butter, milk, and vanilla extract. Mix on low speed with an electric mixer fitted with beaters or stir with a spoon until combined, about 1 minute. If using a mixer, increase the speed to high.

Beat or stir vigorously until smooth, about 30 seconds. Allow the frosting to set for at least 10 minutes. Place in an airtight plastic container. Refrigerate for up to 3 days. Just before using, stir well with a spoon.

For the buns:
Lightly mist a large bowl with cooking spray. Set aside 1 tablespoon of the butter to soften.

In a large microwavable measuring cup or a medium-sized microwavable bowl, combine the milk, granulated sugar, and the remaining butter. Microwave on high power until the milk is hot (130 degrees), 2 minutes.

Add the yogurt. Whisk until the sugar dissolves (some small lumps of yogurt may be visible). Add the egg and egg white. Whisk to beat well. Add the yeast. Whisk until dissolved.

In the bowl of an electric stand mixer fitted with the dough hook or in a large mixing bowl, combine 2 cups of the flour, 1 teaspoon of the cinnamon, and the salt.

Mix or stir by hand with a wooden spoon to blend. Add the milk mixture. Mix on medium power or stir vigorously to blend. (The mixture will be very sticky.) Add the remaining flour, mixing or stirring until absorbed.

Lightly flour a work surface. Turn the dough onto the work surface. (A plastic dough scraper or brittle plastic spatula is helpful for getting out all of the dough and starting the kneading.)

Knead until smooth and elastic, about 5 minutes. Add scant amounts of flour as needed. (The dough should be soft but not sticky.) Place in the reserved bowl. Lightly mist with cooking spray. Cover the bowl tightly with plastic wrap. Allow to rise until doubled in size, about 1 hour.

Meanwhile, in a small bowl, combine the corn syrup, brown sugar, the remaining cinnamon, and the vanilla extract. Stir to blend well. Set aside.

When the dough has doubled in size, gently punch it down and place it on the lightly floured surface. Knead for about 1 minute. Dust lightly with flour. Cover and let rest for 10 minutes.

Lightly mist an 11-by-7-inch nonstick baking dish with cooking spray. Set aside. Using your hands or a floured rolling pin, press or roll the dough into an 18-by-12-inch rectangle.

With a butter knife, evenly spread the softened butter over the dough. Drizzle on the filling. With a knife or spatula, spread it evenly to the edges. Starting at one shorter side, roll the dough, jelly-roll fashion, into a tube, ending seam side down. Cut into 8 equal pieces. Place, spiral side up, in the reserved dish.

Cover the dish with a damp kitchen towel and place in a warm spot. Let the rolls rise for another 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Bake until very lightly browned but slightly doughy in the center, 22-28 minutes. With a spatula, transfer 1 roll to a plate. Using a butter knife, spread 1 ½ tablespoons of frosting over the top and ½ tablespoon down the sides. Repeat with the other 7 rolls.

Makes 8 cinnamon buns

- Will Budiaman, The Daily Meal

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