The Attempt

Do you have that thing that you will not even attempt to make or bake because someone else holds the honorable “best ever” title?  Perhaps your husband informed you that his mom’s cinnamon rolls are “The Best”.  Perhaps he said this while devouring one of said cinnamon rolls.  Perhaps there was moaning and groaning involved.  Perhaps you made a mental note NEVER to make cinnamon rolls.  EVER.  (Um, hello?  The BEST, people.  Who are you to top the best?  More importantly, who are you to top, ahem, his mother?)  In our world, Grandma T is the reigning Queen of the Cinnamon Roll.  Great Grandma JoAnn is the reigning Queen of the Caramel Roll.  That’s just how it is.  So, I have not ever tried to make either one.  Ever.

Well, up until two Sundays ago when I finally gathered up the courage to make The Attempt.

I was puttering around the kitchen feeling the need to bake something and thought I’d see just what these famous little rolls entail.  My Google search quickly led me to a recipe by Molly Wizenburg.  I became acquainted with Molly and her Orangette website through my friend Beth.  But the fact that I found her through Google and on the Bon Appétit website no less…well, I just KNEW that I had to make Molly’s Cinnamon Rolls.  At least to TRY.  So, I printed the recipe off and decided to give it a go.  Then, I made the shocking discovery that I did not have enough cinnamon.  I think the whole house let out a sigh of disappointment.  The shingles and gutters even heaved a bit.  I was forced to wait a few days until the cinnamon stars aligned.  At which time, I (somewhat nervously) gave it a go.

My husband entered the kitchen a few times during the process and expertly offered his input.  When he discovered that I was not using his mom’s recipe, he nearly fainted.  He told me to call her.  Call the Queen?Are you crazy?  My very sensible woman logic reasoned that if I did not use her recipe, there would be that much less to compare.  Yes, I know.  Silly.  I ordered him out of my kitchen and pressed on with Molly.

I am proud to say that The Attempt was successful.  I know this because I received compliments from the Cinnamon Roll Expert.  I actually received multiple compliments throughout the annihilation of the rolls.

If you have a few hours on a Saturday morning, you may want to give it a go.  Just keep in mind the rise times.  You could always make them up the night before and put them in the refrigerator (they will still rise), then bake in the morning.  I found that we liked ours better with a bake time of 18 minutes.  It may depend on your oven, the pan (metal, glass), the stars, the altitude, your luck, and personal preference.

I figure I can try for princess or duchess at the very least, keeping current royalty intact.

Praise and adoration await you.  Did I mention the cream cheese glaze?  Mmmmm…

Here is Molly’s recipe:  click here for printable version



  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 3 1/2 cups (or more) unbleached all purpose flour, divided
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 1/4 teaspoons rapid-rise yeast (from 2 envelopes yeast)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • Nonstick vegetable oil spray


  • 3/4 cup (packed) golden brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature


  • 4 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract



  • Combine milk and butter in glass measuring cup. Microwave on high until butter melts and mixture is just warmed to 120°F to 130°F, 30 to 45 seconds. Pour into bowl of stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment. Add 1 cup flour, sugar, egg, yeast, and salt. Beat on low speed 3 minutes, stopping occasionally to scrape down sides of bowl. Add 2 1/2 cups flour. Beat on low until flour is absorbed and dough is sticky, scraping down sides of bowl. If dough is very sticky, add more flour by tablespoonfuls until dough begins to form ball and pulls away from sides of bowl. Turn dough out onto lightly floured work surface. Knead until smooth and elastic, adding more flour if sticky, about 8 minutes. Form into ball.
  • Lightly oil large bowl with nonstick spray. Transfer dough to bowl, turning to coat. Cover bowl with plastic wrap, then kitchen towel. Let dough rise in warm draft-free area until doubled in volume, about 2 hours.


  • Mix brown sugar and cinnamon in medium bowl.
  • Punch down dough. Transfer to floured work surface. Roll out to 15×11-inch rectangle. Spread butter over dough, leaving 1/2-inch border. Sprinkle cinnamon sugar evenly over butter. Starting at 1 long side, roll dough into log, pinching gently to keep it rolled up. With seam side down, cut dough crosswise with thin sharp knife into 18 equal slices (each about 1/2 to 3/4 inch wide).
  • Spray two 9-inch square glass baking dishes with nonstick spray. Divide rolls between baking dishes, arranging cut side up (there will be almost no space between rolls). Cover baking dishes with plastic wrap, then kitchen towel. Let dough rise in warm draft-free area until almost doubled in volume, 40 to 45 minutes.
  • Position rack in center of oven and preheat to 375°F. Bake rolls until tops are golden, about 20 minutes. Remove from oven and invert immediately onto rack. Cool 10 minutes. Turn rolls right side up.


  • Combine cream cheese, powdered sugar, butter, and vanilla in medium bowl. Using electric mixer, beat until smooth. Spread glaze on rolls. Serve warm or at room temperature.

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