An Ingenious Tip for Better Cinnamon Rolls

published Oct 26, 2022
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cinnamon roll on a plate with fork
Credit: Patty Lee

For those of us who find joy in making cookies, pies, and all other manners of doughy, carby goodness, baking is a year-round activity. Even a 90-degree summer day won’t stop us from cranking on the oven to satisfy a craving for homemade chocolate cake. But there’s something about fall and its crisp, chilly air that calls for the type of baking requiring multiple steps, multiple pieces of equipment, and even multiple days. 

One of my favorite such baking projects is cinnamon rolls. Perhaps it’s the scent of the spiced filling or the cozy plush nature of the dough, but cinnamon rolls are exactly the kind of just-complicated-enough recipe that’s perfect for kicking off a season of long, leisurely bakes. The dough comes together easily, you get to work with your hands a bit, and the results are always well worth the wait. 

Like many home bakers, my biggest struggle with cinnamon rolls is getting the shape just right. After patiently waiting for the dough to proof and carefully rolling it up, there’s nothing more disappointing than slicing into the log and getting squished, lopsided, or torn pieces. After years of smushed rolls, I was excited to trade my knife for dental floss, using this nifty method to snip off rolls while keeping the shape intact.

The dental floss technique has been my go-to cutting method for a while now, but I recently stumbled across another interesting approach on baker Katarina Cermelj’s TikTok account @theloopywhisk. In the video, she uses a ruler to mark off even notches in the dough and slices down each one with a pizza cutter. She then takes the individual strip and rolls it up into one evenly sized spiral. 

I was so mesmerized by her tray of perfectly round cinnamon rolls that I had to give the method a try. I used my go-to recipe, the Kitchn Showdown-approved rolls from The Vanilla Bean Blog, following all the steps until it came time to roll the dough into a log. Instead, I broke out my ruler and made notches at 1.25-inch intervals, then sliced them using a pizza cutter, resulting in 13 strips of dough.

Credit: Patty Lee

I followed Cermelj’s lead and rolled up each one gently with my fingers to form the individual rolls. Some of my dough was sticky so they were not quite as pristine as the ones in her video, but they did come out nicely round at even heights.  

Credit: Patty Lee

In a follow-up post, Cermelj explains that her technique works especially well with gluten-free doughs, as they’re more delicate. The cut-then-roll technique helps avoid “smushing those spirals, which can be a problem with a fragile dough,” she says. Even though my cinnamon rolls didn’t end up quite as even as hers did, they still had a pretty great spiral. Next time, I’d make sure my work surface was more thoroughly floured so the dough doesn’t get stuck during the rolling process.