- 4 1/2 cups (22.5 ounces) all-purpose flour
- 1/3 cup (2.5 ounces) granulated sugar
- 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
- 2 1/2 tablespoons baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 13 tablespoons (6.5 ounces) very cold butter
- 2 cups buttermilk (plus a few tablespoons more, if needed)
- 4 tablespoons butter, melted
- 1/2 cup (3.75 ounces) light brown sugar
- 1/2 to 1 tablespoon cinnamon (depending on how cinnamon-y you like them)
- 1/2 cup (2 ounces) powdered sugar
- 1 tablespoon butter, melted
- 2 tablespoons heavy cream
- Splash of vanilla extract
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.
- Combine the flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder and salt in a bowl, or in the bowl of a food processor (you can easily do the following steps in a bowl by hand, using a pastry blender to cut in the butter). Cut the butter into the flour mixture until the mixture is like coarse meal and the butter is in small, pellet-sized pieces (slightly smaller than a pea). This will take a few short pulses in the food processor.
- Pour in the buttermilk and mix/pulse only until just combined. The dough should start to come together but you don’t want to overmix the dough. If there are lots of dry patches throughout the dough, add a bit more buttermilk, just a tablespoon or two at a time until the dough comes together (it’s ok to have dry bits here and there).
- Scrape the dough out of the food processor or bowl onto a lightly floured counter.
- Gently pat (do not roll with a rolling pin!) the dough to about 1/2-inch thick. Gently fold the dough in thirds (see visual below), repeating three times and pressing gently to 1-inch thick after each fold. These folds, combined with the cold butter, are what help to create flaky layers.
- With a lightly floured rolling pin (or pressing quickly with your hands), roll the dough into a 1/4-inch rectangle, about 18X10 or thereabouts. Roll quickly – the more the dough is worked with and processed, the less flaky and tender the rolls will be.
- Spread the melted butter over the top. Combine the sugar and cinnamon and spread evenly over the butter.
- Start rolling up the cinnamon rolls, beginning with one long edge, rolling tightly without pulling and stretching the dough.
- Reposition the long roll until it is seam side down.
- Use a serrated knife, dental floss, or a bench knife/scraper to cut into 1- or 1 1/2-inch rolls. Tuck the loose end of each roll underneath and place an inch or so apart on the prepared baking sheet(s).
- At this point the rolls can be covered and refrigerated for up to two days. To bake immediately, bake for 12-15 minutes. If baking straight from the refrigerator, add a couple minutes to the baking time.
- Let the rolls cool for 10 minutes or so before drizzling with the icing.
- For the icing, whisk together the powdered sugar, melted butter, heavy cream and vanilla until smooth and creamy.
I usually champion the homemade buttermilk solution, but it has failed miserably when I’ve used it in this recipe (dough too wet, rolls flattening while baking). I think it COULD work, but I’d suggest using a modified homemade version: half sour cream and half milk to equal the amount in the recipe so it’s a thicker homemade buttermilk than just adding lemon juice to milk.