Cinnamon Roll Muffins

June 3, 2012

My love for all things lemon took a turn for the worst when I attempted a chocolate citrus adaptation of this recipe. Everything seemed to be going so well, I rubbed the lemon zest into the sugar that went into the dough, and I replaced the cinnamon/brown sugar filling with orange zest, granulated sugar, and shaved chocolate. Big mistake.

Everything sank to the bottom of the muffin tin. I was left with a dozen, semi-naked, embarrassed rolls of dough. The small amount of chocolate that managed to cling to the surface of each roll just looked sad and defeated. Good try, chocolate. Good try.

(I heard the bottle of cinnamon trying to hold back stifled laughs.)

Lesson learned. Not everything can be replaced with lemons.

This recipe is relatively easy because it doesn't require yeast. (If it had, I would not have made it a second time, and utensils would have been thrown.) The only thing you really need to be careful of is how much you handle the dough. You need to be extra gentle. If it's overworked, it will be tough, and bland, and antisocial. But, if you're kind and sweet, it will return the favor.

These cinnamon roll/muffin hybrids are spectacular! They kind of remind me of extra-large chunks of monkey bread who caught a lucky break and managed to find their own way in the vast, fast-paced world of breakfast pastries.

I doubt that my lemon versions would have stood a chance against these gems...even if the filling had made it through the oven's skeptical scrutiny.

Cinnamon Roll Muffins
yields 12 muffins

for the filling 
2 Tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
2/3 cups brown sugar
3/4 tsp. ground cinnamon

for the dough
1 cup room temperature buttermilk
1 egg, lightly beaten
zest from 1 orange (don't worry about an exact amount)
1/2 cup tightly packed, brown sugar (light or dark)
1 tsp. baking Soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
3 cups flour (extra for dusting)

for the drizzly drizzle

1 cup confectioners' sugar
1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
2-3 Tablespoons. cream

Preheat the oven to 375 F.  Butter or spray a standard 12-cup muffin tin.
Prepare the filling: In a small bowl, whisk together the brown sugar and cinnamon; Set aside.
Prepare the dough: In a separate small bowl, lightly beat together the buttermilk and egg; Set aside. In a large mixing bowl, combine the orange zest, brown sugar, baking soda, salt, and vanilla. Whisk to combine. Add the buttermilk/egg mixture and, using a fork, mix everything together. Add the flour and gently mix all the ingredients together with a large wooden spoon or rubber spatula. [Try not to over-mix.]
Place the dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead for a good minute. Grab the rolling pin and roll the dough out into a 12 x 24-inch rectangle. The dough is quite friendly and flexible, but try not to over-work her, (or she will get tough on you).
Use a pastry brush to coat the entire surface with the melted butter. Sprinkle with the brown sugar/cinnamon mixture, and gently press it into the dough. [Not too hard, just enough to make it adhere to the butter.]
Starting on the longest side, begin rolling the dough into a tight log, stretching slightly as you roll. If the ends are scraggly, cut them off with a sharp knife. Cut the log into two equal pieces, and cut each of those pieces in half. (You'll be left with 4 logs of dough.) Cut each log into 3 equal pieces (12 all together). Place each one into the prepared pan. Bake for 13-15 minutes, or until golden brown. Remove from the oven and allow the muffins to rest in the pan for about 5 minutes before transferring them to a cooling rack. Cool completley before adding the drizzle.

Drizzle: In a small mixing bowl, combine the confectioners' sugar, cinnamon, and 2 Tablespoons of cream. Mix until well-combined and smooth. If it looks too thick, add a little more cream until it thins out enough to glaze. Dip a large fork or small whisk into the glaze and allow it to fall onto the muffins. Make zig-zag patterns it you like, or simply smear each muffin with the glaze, using an offset spatula. Have fun, lick your fingers, be happy.

Recipe adapted from The Baker Chic


  1. Oh, I'd do anything to have one now... Those looks amzing!



  2. Ah, I've had those moments when I have wanted to throw utensils. It usually occurs when trying to make my nemesis, eggplant parmigiana. ;-)

    These cinnamon roll muffins are gorgeous! How creative, and my goodness, do they ever look tasty. You do such beautiful work!

  3. I think I've found a new favorite muffin. The lemon adaptation was a good idea, but I think this recipe is so perfect, it's impossible to improve on it.

  4. Ils sont magnifiques~ Je viens tout juste de faire un g√Ęteau avec de la canelle..

    Je le trouvais joli avant de voir vos muffins:)

  5. These sound so good! I love the orange zest and the fact that they are yeast-free when I'm in a hurry for my cinnamon roll fix :).

  6. Haha, that cinnamon knows its stuff :) These look unbelievable.

  7. I think that cinnamon is full of crap! Imagine laughing at a bold recipe attempt like that! I'm so happy that these ones turned out though, they look absolutely amazing. I have no shame in saying that they are quite possibly the best cinnamon rolls ever!

  8. Cinnamon rolls for breakfast? Yum! Cinnamon roll muffins for breakfast? Definitely! I'd love to start my morning right, sweet and just perfect. Thanks for sharing.

  9. Such a shame that the lemon version didn't turn out because it sounds completely delicious! The traditional version also looks great, love the fact they don't have yeast in them :)

  10. It's so disappointing when you try something new and it doesn't work out. But at least now you know what doesn't work and you can try, try again :-) I know that I'm definitely going to try these muffins!

  11. i have buttermilk in the fridge that is looking for a home, and now i can report back to it and let it know it will be going in these! i cannot wait to make them!

  12. I can see why you were tempted to add chocolate to these! I'd love to try this version - they look wonderful & so much easier than traditional cinnamon rolls.

  13. Yay no chocolate! I might have laughed too.
    These look great and I know they're called muffins, but are they muffin-y or biscuit-y? I'd like them either way, but I just want to be prepared.

  14. @Mary, They're supposed to be muffin-y. If they're not, then you know you have over-worked the which case you can tell yourself that they are meant to be biscuit-y. :p

  15. These look fantastic! Def going to make these soon!

  16. i was so excited to make these however they turned out tuff, tasteless and dry, maybe it was just a bad batch but i was definitly disappointed. :(

  17. @iheartbaking123, I'm so sorry about first batch (the lemon/chocolate), was on the tough side too, and I think it was due to the fact that I worked the dough too much. (The key is to try not to over-mix the flour.)
    I hope you will give these another go sometime.

  18. These look fantastic. So sorry about the chocolate but these certainly made up for it. Congrats on the Top 9.

  19. These sound delicious! Congrats on the Top 9 today :)!

  20. They look amazing! Seriously, I could so break my diet with those right now. I love the fact that they aren't super complicated to make either. I must give these a try over the weekend :-)

  21. Ok so here's my question to you: how do you avoid eating these all in one sitting??? They look amazing, I'm drooling already!!!

  22. @May I have that recipe: I hide them behind Brussels sprouts. ;)

  23. Lovely pics and a beautiful recipe. I just made them tonight (it's 2:44 am where I'm at) and they are delish! I love how quick they are and the orange peel (I used dried since I didn't have a fresh orange) really makes the dough sparkle. Thank you for sharing the recipe!

  24. Hi. I tried to make these today and the dough came out super sticky, I couldn't even roll it out. What did I do wrong? Thanks.

  25. Hi Nicole,
    I'm sorry about the sticky dough. Was it an especially humid day? Heat and humidity can turn an otherwise flexible dough, into something messy and goopy. If you decide to try the recipe again, maybe leave the dough in the fridge for a longer time...and be sure to generously flour the surface you are using (as well as the rolling pin).
    I hope that helps! (I know how frustrating it is to work with sticky dough.) :)

  26. Oh dear, what a shame the chocolate didn't want to play along! Good try though. I for myself am a cinnamon addict,so I'd deffo root for these! Lovely!


Thanks for visiting, and for taking the time to read through my ramblings!
If you have a recipe comment or question, I'd love to hear from you.

Happy Baking!
♥ Valerie


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