I decided to combine my three favorite things: brown butter, sourdough, and brunch… and all I can say is wow! These cinnamon rolls have it all— they’re warm, slightly nutty, sour and sweet— all in one! If you’re a fan of big, doughy cinnamon rolls that pack a strong cinnamon punch but aren’t too sweet, you’ll be a big fan of these! Time to feed your sourdough starter and get baking!
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: What is a sourdough starter?
A: A sourdough starter is a combination of flour, water, and natural yeast from the air that act as a leavening agent (as opposed to commercial yeast or baking powder/soda).
Q: Are the rolls actually sour?
A: Honestly, it depends on the intensity of your starter. Sourdough doesn’t taste like a sour gummy, rather it has (as we in the culinary world like to say) more depth of flavor. You’ll know it as soon as you taste it. Rather than tasting like white bread, it tastes yeasty, nutty, and slightly tangy. If you fed your starter with white all purpose flour, it will be more mild than if you feed it with rye or whole wheat flour.
Q: What is “fed” starter? How will I know if my starter is ready to use?
A: You “feed” your starter by mixing it with water and more flour. By adding flour you’re truly feeding the yeast colony and as a by-product they produce carbon dioxide which causes the starter to become bubbly and rise. You’ll know your starter is ready to use when it bubbles immediately after feeding. I like to let mine bubble and double in size before using it (which usually takes about 2 hours), but that’s up to you.
Q: Is browning the butter really that important?
A: YES. If you’ve never had brown butter, please go make some right now. It completely transforms the flavor and becomes rich, nutty, and absolutely delicious.
Q: Why do you pour half-and-half over the rolls?
A: I learned this secret from a Cinnabon copycat recipe. Pouring the half-and-half over the rolls makes them rise more and keeps them softer. It also helps create the cinnamon-caramel at the bottom of the pan.
Q: Do you have to flip the cinnamon rolls?
A: Yes. The brown sugar, brown butter, and half-and-half create a caramel sauce in the bottom of the pan. If you don’t flip the rolls, all of that delicious sauce will stay at the bottom (and that would be very sad).
How to Make Sourdough Cinnamon Rolls
Step One: Gather ingredients
Gather all of your ingredients. In this photo, the dough has risen overnight but I have not started the “stretch and folds” process.
Step Two: Prepare the dough
Perform a series of stretch-and-folds to develop the gluten in the dough. Roll it into a rectangle 1/4″ thick.
Step Three: Fill the rolls
Step Four: roll and slice
Roll the dough tightly into a log with the seam side down. Cut 1″ rolls.
Step five: Pour over the half-and-half
Step six: Bake and flip
Bake at 375°F for 30-35 minutes. Allow the rolls to cool slightly before flipping them upside down. Top with cream cheese icing, if desired.
Brown Butter Sourdough Cinnamon Rolls
For the Dough
- 1 cup fed sourdough starter
- 3/4 cup milk warm
- 1 egg
- 1/4 cup butter melted
- 3 1/4 cups all purpose flour
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 1 tsp kosher salt
For the Filling
- 1 stick butter
- 1 cup light brown sugar
- 1 tbsp cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp nutmeg
- 1/2 cup half-and half
Cream Cheese Icing (Optional)
- 4 oz cream cheese room temperature
- 1 cup powdered sugar
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
Make the Dough
- Combine the starter, milk (105F-115F), egg, and melted butter in a large bowl. Add the sugar and 3 cups of flour. Stir until no large clumps of flour remain. Set aside to autolyse for 30 minutes.
- After 30 minutes, sprinkle the salt and remaining 1/4 cup of flour over the dough. Stir to incorporate and turn it out onto a floured surface. Knead gently for 2-3 minutes, or until the dough comes together in a smooth ball.
- Place into a lightly oiled bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Leave the dough on the counter (at room temperature) overnight or until doubled in size (about 10 hours).
- Once the dough has risen, perform a series of “stretch and folds” by grabbing one side of the dough and pulling it over to the other. Repeat 8-10 times, or until the dough has become more tight. If you’re looking for a video demonstration, you can find one here.
- Turn the dough onto a floured surface and roll until it is approximately 1/4” thick. My rectangle was 20”x14”.
Make the Filling & Assemble
- Heat a small skillet over high heat. Add the butter and allow it to melt completely. Once melted, begin whisking slowly. Cook for 5-7 minutes, whisking slowly, until the butter is golden brown and smells nutty. The butter will foam before browning— that’s okay, just keep stirring.
- Spread the browned butter over the dough making sure to spread it to each edge.
- In a small bowl, combine the brown sugar, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Sprinkle it evenly over the butter.
- Roll the dough into a tight log and turn it seam side down. Cut into 1” rolls using a sharp knife or bench scraper.
- Place the rolls 1/2” apart in a parchment lined baking dish. Pour the half-and-half evenly over the top of the rolls.
- Bake at 375°F for 30-35 minutes or until the rolls are golden brown on top.
- Once the rolls are finished baking, let them cool slightly (about 5 minutes), and then flip them out onto a plate— be careful, they will be HOT. Flipping the rolls ensures that the cinnamon-caramel on the bottom goes back into the bun (rather than staying on the bottom). This step really makes a difference— don’t skip it!
- (Optional) To make cream cheese icing, combine room temperature cream cheese, powdered sugar and vanilla extract. Spread of warm rolls.
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