#SamLikesItHot: Yummy cinnamon rolls

Sam Oh
There’s something really fascinating about making bread right in your own kitchen

STICKY, DECADENT. The perfect homemade weekend merienda for your family and friends. Photo by Sam Oh

MANILA, Philippines – Although cinnamon rolls originate from Sweden, the ones that we have come to know and love — sticky, decadent and filling — are more closely associated with the United States; Philadelphia, to be specific.

These delicious, cinnamon-filled sweet buns are enjoyed the world over as breakfast, snack or dessert. They might seem a tad intimidating to make at home but they’re actually pretty easy to prepare, with quality that rivals that of store-bought ones! 

This cinnamon roll recipe comes from Chef Jackie Ang-Po whom I worked with on the set of “True Confections” a couple of years ago. Chef Jackie is not only a very capable chef who has won awards in international competitions abroad but is also a delight to work with! Her sense of humor is one of the things I miss most about her. 

Before getting started, it is wise that you test your yeast. All your hard work will be for naught if your yeast has a bad case of the deads. To do that, you’ll need:

  • 1 T active dry yeast
  • 1 T sugar
  • ½ cup warm water

Simply dissolve the instant dry yeast and sugar in the warm water. If your yeast is good, this mixture will foam up. No foam, no go.

Photo by Sam Oh

This is actually the first step of this recipe. If your yeast starts to foam, set this aside for 10 minutes.

While the yeast mixture is busy foaming up, you can prepare the rest of the ingredients.

Start with the dough. You’ll need:

  • ½ cup milk (room temperature)
  • ½ t salt
  • 2 eggs (room temperature)
  • 1/3 cup butter, softened
  • 4 1/3 cups all-purpose flour

For the cinnamon sugar:

  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 2 t ground cinnamon

For the rest of the filling:

  • ¼ cup softened butter (for brushing)
  • 1 cup nuts (I opted for toasted walnuts but you can, well, go nuts. Other good additions are chocolate chips and raisins.)

For the syrup:

  • 1/3 cup butter (melted)
  • ½ cup brown sugar

For the cream cheese icing:

  • ½ cup butter, softened
  • 1 ½ cups confectioner’s sugar
  • ¼ cup cream cheese
  • 1 t vanilla extract

I know — it looks like a lengthy list of ingredients, but it’s mostly the same stuff and you can work on everything else while the dough is rising so it doesn’t even take very long to make!

On that note, let’s get the dough out of the way.

1. Whisk milk, eggs, salt and softened butter in a big bowl. Whisk in the yeast mixture after the required 10 minutes and gradually add the flour.

Photo by Sam Oh

2. You will eventually be able to knead this mixture with your hands and form a dough. Try to feel out the amount of flour for yourself, too — the dough needs to be just dry enough so it doesn’t stick to your fingers. 

Photo by Sam Oh

3. Grease a big bowl with butter and transfer the dough. Cover with cling wrap and let rise in some place warm for an hour and a half.

Photo by Sam Oh

This part, called “proofing” in the baking world, is always exciting for me and almost borders on anxiety.

4. To keep your mind off the dough, you can get busy with the cinnamon sugar. Just give the two ingredients a thorough mixing in a small bowl and set aside.

Photo by Sam Oh

After your dough has been proofing for an hour and a half, it should have doubled in size. 

Hallelujah, the dough has risen! I love this part! Photo by Sam Oh

5. Punch the dough (a process of gently pressing down to let gas bubbles out) and transfer to a floured rolling surface. I don’t have a whole lot of rolling surface in my kitchen so I halved the dough and worked in batches.

Knead the dough a little bit and roughly form into a rectangle with your hands. Roll out using a rolling pin to a thickness of ¼ inch. (Have extra flour nearby for dusting.)

6. Brush the dough with softened butter and sprinkle evenly with cinnamon sugar. Top with nuts or chocolate chips/raisins if using.

Photo by Sam Oh

7. Roll the dough (so you end up with what looks like a scroll) and cut into equal parts. This recipe yields 12 rolls but this really depends on how big you want your cinnamon rolls to be. 

8. Pour melted butter into a 9 x 3 baking pan and tilt to distribute evenly. Sprinkle brown sugar on top. This will turn to a thick syrup while baking.

Transfer the sliced rolls on to this baking pan, making sure to space them evenly. Sprinkle cinnamon sugar and nuts on top.

Preheat the oven to 190 C/375 F. Let the rolls rise a second time for 30 minutes.

Here are before and after shots:

BEFORE. Photo by Sam Oh

AFTER. Photo by Sam Oh

9. Bake in the oven until lightly brown on top, 10 to 15 minutes.

10. While waiting for the cinnamon rolls to bake, you can prepare the cream cheese icing by whisking everything in a medium bowl until it’s creamy and fluffy. 

Photo by Sam Oh

11. When done, let the cinnamon rolls cool for 5 minutes…

Photo by Sam Oh

12. …then coat generously with cream cheese icing.

My first homemade cinnamon rolls – aren’t they pretty? Photo by Sam Oh

There’s something really fascinating about making bread right in your own kitchen; the fascination doubles when you produce something you see all the time and take for granted.  

The bread is as soft and fluffy as it looks. The brown sugar is transformed into a deep, dark cinnamon syrup and the icing lends it a rich kind of sweetness, all of which make these rolls so delicious and satisfying. 

I’m already thinking of other filling ideas. Off the top of my head: cookie butter.

Oh, this is gonna be fun. – Rappler.com


Chef Jackie Ang-Po is the chef and owner of Fleur De Lys Pattiserie. She also teaches cake decorating classes for Wilton at Living Well, Podium. To inquire, you may call (02) 812-3022. 

Check out our other recipes:

Sam Oh

Sam Oh is a professional TV and events host, radio jock and foodie. Catch her on radio at First Thing In The Morning with Sam and Gibb on Magic 89.9, Monday to Thursday 6 to 9am. She is also a food blogger at Sam Likes It Hot. If you have questions or recipe requests, email desk@rappler.com with subject heading SAM LIKES IT HOT.



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