Sourdough Cinnamon Buns

Hello and welcome to big, fluffy PERFECT cinnamon rolls packed with a cinnamon brown sugar filling and covered with a vanilla cream cheese glaze that drips into the middle and soaks every single bite.  Following on from my previous post about using sourdough starter discard to make pizza dough, I decided it was time to give it a go within cinnamon buns.  Now, there aren’t many things that can improve and enhance the incredible flavours already coming from cinnamon buns but sourdough is definitely one of them.  This recipe adds a boost in flavour and a subtle chewy texture from the ripe sourdough starter and takes these soft, buttery, cinnamon sugar-laced buns over the top.  The only downfall is slightly longer proofing times but anyone who has sourdough experience knows that we’re not here for a quickie, you’ll be glad you waited!


Healthy?  Not so much.  Especially when in lockdown and if, like me, you have no self control and end up eating 10 of the buns within 3 days.  10.  But life is too short and sometimes you need something a little indulgent for moments in your life that require a little something special, like a Thursday.

A couple of tips and tricks for this recipe –

  • The trick to keeping the cinnamon rolls soft and fluffy is bread flour.  Yep that’s right.  The one and only.  The rolls really won’t be the same otherwise.
  • Make sure your starter is ripe, so 2 or 3 feeds before you use it within this recipe should do the trick!
  • If you don’t want to wait for your starter to be completely ripe (or if you’d like a little added leavening insurance), add 1 teaspoon of optional yeast to your dough. Note that the rising/proofing times will be shorter with additional yeast, likely just 2 to 2 1/2 hours (with just two to three rounds of stretching and folding the dough) for the first rise, and 1 1/2 to 2 hours for the second.


Ingredients –
  • 230g ripe sourdough starter
  • 170ml lukewarm whole milk
  • 1 large egg
  • 55g butter, softened
  • 400g strong bread flour
  • 50g granulated sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon instant yeast, optional (see tips and tricks above)


  • 135g dark brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons ground cinnamon
  • 55g unsalted butter, softened

Cream Cheese Frosting

  • 115g cream cheese, softened
  • 45g unsalted butter, softened
  • 75g icing sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract



  1. To make the dough: Mix together all the dough ingredients except the salt (and optional yeast) until the flour is evenly moistened and the dough has formed a cohesive, sticky mass.  I like to do this by hand but you can also pop it on the low speed of a stand mixer for 2 to 3 minutes.
  2. Add the salt (and yeast) on top of the dough (without mixing it in), then cover and let the dough rest for 20 minutes.  This rest is period is known as an autolyse.  Our house is a bit inconsistent temperature-wise so I like to rest my dough in the oven with the door shut and the light switched on.
  3. After the autolyse, mix in the salt (and yeast) until fully incorporated, about 1 minute on low speed of the stand mixer.  Turn the mixer up one speed and knead the dough until it’s smooth and supple though still somewhat soft and tacky, about 2 to 3 minutes.  If you don’t have a stand mixer, you can of course do this by hand but it will probably take a few minutes longer!
  4. Cover the dough and let it rest in a warm place for 4 hours.  To develop strength in the dough, stretch and fold it in the bowl three to four times during the rest.  You can be fairly flexible in your timing of these.  One stretch and fold per hour is ideal. The goal is to end up with a strong dough with good elasticity.  I always wet my hand before doing the stretch and fold so it doesn’t all stick to me!


  1. To make the filling: Make sure your tray is ready, you want it to be about 9″ x 13″ and I like to line it with baking parchment to catch any sugary sauce that inevitably escapes out during baking.
  2. When your dough is ready, turn it out onto a lightly floured work surface and gently deflate it, patting or rolling it into a 14″ x 20″ rectangle.
  3. Spread the softened butter evenly over the surface of the dough, leaving about half an inch of exposed dough along one of the shorter edges.  Then sprinkle the brown sugar and cinnamon evenly over the butter and use your fingers to rub it in, it should be a bit like wet sand.
  4. Starting with the filling-coated short edge, roll the dough into a log.  As you roll, the log will lengthen to around 18″.
  5. Cut the log into twelve 1 1/2” slices and place them into your tray.  Cover the tray and let the buns rise until they’re puffy, 2 to 3 hours.
  6. At this point, you can let the buns rise for another hour or so and then bake them; or you can place the pan in the fridge overnight, covered, and bake the buns the next day (up to 24 hours later).
  7. To bake the same day: Bake the buns in a preheated 180°C oven for 18-22 minutes, until golden.  
  8. To bake the buns after being in the fridge overnight: Remove the tray from the fridge and leave the buns covered at room temperature while you preheat the oven to 180°C.  Bake the buns for 20-25 minutes, until golden.


  1. To make the icing: In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine cream cheese, butter, powdered sugar and vanilla extract.  Beat until smooth and fluffy.
  2. Remove the buns from the oven and cool for 5 to 10 minutes, spread over cinnamon rolls and serve immediately.  Enjoy!


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