Yields 16 cinnamon rolls


Cinnamon Roll Dough

  • 3 packets of instant yeast
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk (preferred) or milk
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla paste or extract
  • 2 tablespoons molasses
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour 
  • 1/2 pound (2 sticks) unsalted butter, diced and soft
  • 1/4 cup dark brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup cream, for baking 

Gingerbread Cinnamon Filling

Yield: 1 pint

  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon cinnamon 
  • 1/2 tablespoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 tablespoon all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground pepper corns (black or white)
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom  

Royal Icing Cream Cheese Glaze

Yield: 1 pint

  • 4 tablespoons cream cheese
  • 1 pound confectioners’ sugar/10x
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla paste or extract
  • 2 egg whites
  • *As necessary, more confectioners’ sugar/10x 


In a stand mixer whisk together the yeast and buttermilk/milk, eggs, vanilla paste, and molasses. Add the all-purpose flour. Using the dough hook, mix the dough on speed 1 for 5 minutes. Change the mixer to speed 2 and mix for 3 minutes. Add the butter in multiple stages- not adding more until the previous addition is evenly mixed in the dough. Once all the butter has been added, mix for 15 minutes on speed 2. Add the sugar and salt, continue to mix the dough on speed 1 for 6 minutes. Transfer the dough to a sprayed bowl, covered with plastic. Allow to rest overnight in the fridge.

The next morning, transfer the dough to a floured work surface. Roll the dough into a rectangle about 11 x 20 inches. Brush milk on the dough and sprinkle the gingerbread spice cinnamon filling evenly. Lightly press the filling into the dough. Roll into a log. If the rolled dough log is firm enough to cut, cut into 1.5 inch portions. If the dough is too soft, transfer the roll to the freezer to firm. This allows for clean even cuts! When ready to bake, Place the rolls into a sprayed cake pan 1/4 inch a part. Proof in a warm and humid environment until just doubled in size. Covering the rolls with a damp towel to avoid them from getting a skin.  Once the rolls are close, preheat an oven to 325f. Once the rolls are ready and the oven is heated, Place the cake pan into the oven and bake for about 35 minutes or until an even brown color. Allow the rolls to cool before glazing. If you like your cinnamon rolls to have more of a thick goopy filling, pour 1/4 cup of heavy cream evenly over the cinnamon rolls just before baking. Sprinkle any remaining gingerbread cinnamon filling that wasn’t used. 

To make the Gingerbread Cinnamon Filling, place all the ingredients together into a bowl. Using a whisk, stir until everything is evenly distributed. Reserve for assembling the rolls.

To make the royal icing cream cheese glaze, place the cream cheese in the microwave and soften slightly.  Meanwhile, sift together the salt and confectioners. Add the softened cream cheese. Using a whisk or a spatula mix together until it is smooth and lump free. Once the paste is formed, add the vanilla paste, or extract and stir to combine. Lastly, add the egg whites and stir until smooth. You may adjust the consistency by adding more confectioners’ sugar/10x to make it thicker or more egg whites to make it thinner. 

Note: The Continental bakes its cinnamon rolls in rings, but in this recipe they are baked in a cake pan.

Recipe courtesy of pastry chefs Keaton Vasek and Michael Werrell of The Continental in Nashville