One of my weaknesses as a human being is my love for sweets – and that includes sweet breads. Cinnamon rolls are not an exception. I love the sweet, sticky goodness in every bite. But I didn’t really like it before, it was an acquired taste.

When I was a kid, I only liked cookies. Now, my friend (and then neighbour) Mandy liked cinnamon rolls. Whenever her dad went to Manila, he always brought these chain store Red Ribbon Cinnamon Rolls back home in Iloilo. We’d feast on that pasalubong usually during merienda. Mandy is older than me, and I looked up to her like a little sister would. I wanted to have cinnamon rolls because, well, Mandy likes cinnamon rolls (I was 6, so hey) and I guess, it grew from there.

When our local bakery (Tinapayan, hello) made these glorious rolls, there we had our own weekend supply of cinnamon rolls. These are the rolls that cemented my love for sweet breads. They are not like Cinnabon’s fluffy-with-crunchy-sugar-frosting on top. They were simple and sticky and damn delicious. Fast forward to now, I’m 28 and I’m still in love with cinnamon rolls.

Our family has now moved and we lost the local bakery. We do have Red Ribbon here, though. Unlike the cinnamon rolls of 1994, Red Ribbon’s cinnamon rolls now are very basic and I feel like it’s just laden with syrup, and flour (the company has been bought by Jollibee and I blame the new management for the downgrade). It’s not the same. Also, I came to realise that cinnamon rolls are not pretty common here in the Philippine bakery scene. It seems to just come and go on the racks randomly! So, craving the goodness of a real cinnamon roll (real in my head), I made my own. Here’s how:

What you need:

  • 2 1/4 tsp instant yeast (1 packet), room temperature
  • 1 cup (240 ml) milk
  • 2 tbsp coconut oil
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 3 cups (408 g) all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 cup + 1 Tbsp (63 g) organic cane sugar
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • raisins (optional)
  • nuts (optional)
  • orange marmalade (optional)


Cinnamon Rolls

What to do:

  1. In a large saucepan or a microwaveable bowl, heat milk and until warm (30-second increments if you’re using the microwave). Don’t let it boil! Remove from heat and let cool the temperature of bath water. It should not be hot as it would kill the yeast!
  2. Transfer the milk to a large mixing bowl, add oil and 1tbsp sugar. Mix it well.  Sprinkle on yeast. Let rest for 10 minutes. It should have risen.
  3. Next, add in flour and salt. The dough will be sticky at some point. Use hands to knead it, and knead for a minute or so until it forms a nice, dough ball. Rinse your mixing bowl and cover it with 2 tbsp butter (or 2 tbsp coconut oil) and put the dough ball back in it. Cover with a cloth or plastic wrap and put it in a warm place for an hour to rise.
  4. See that miracle on the dough? Take the risen dough. On a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough into a thin rectangle using a rolling pin. Brush with 3 Tbsp melted butter and top with 1/4 cup sugar and 1/2 – 1 Tbsp cinnamon (to taste). You can add nuts, marmalade, and raisins on this flat dough as well.
  5. Starting at one end, tightly roll up the dough. It should look like a jelly roll (or a snake, if you’re a preschool teacher – like me!). Then with a sharp knife, cut the dough into 1.5 – 2-inch sections and put in a well-buttered oven-proof pan. Brush with remaining melted butter, some marmalade, and nuts. Put in a warm place to let rise again while you preheat oven to 180 degrees C.
  6. Once the oven is hot, bake rolls until slightly golden brown (which will take around 15 to 20 minutes). Let cool for a few minutes and then serve immediately.

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