One Simple Trick Makes Cinnamon Rolls Look Gorgeous

These "cinnamon roses" smell just as amazing as they'll taste on your brunch table.

Cinnamon Roses Recipe
Photo: Michael Piazza

I come from a long line of sugar fiends: My mother is known to demolish an entire bar of dark chocolate with her evening tea, and I'm absolutely defenseless against a good Meyer lemon tart. It should therefore come as no surprise that I love the cinnamon roses from my favorite hometown patisserie, Tatte Bakery & Café. An especially lovely twist on the cinnamon bun, these tightly wound bundles of yeasted dough and cinnamon sugar "blossom" as they bake into a bouquet of breakfast pastry goodness. A single rose is the perfect pick-me-up treat, while the entire batch makes for a delicious, Instagrammable brunch centerpiece.

The recipe for the cinnamon rose, which was on the opening menu at the bakery's first Brookline location in 2008, comes from owner Tzurit Or's mother, Ruth. The simple yeasted dough is soft and tender, yielding golden, tear-apart rolls. Two things you'll notice: First, these cinnamon roses require no glaze. That's not an oversight, and I wouldn't recommend adding any–they're perfect as is. And second, the tighter you roll the roses, the more cinnamon and sugar you'll get in each bite, and the more dramatic "bloom" you'll get from each rose. Here's how to get started:

1. Wake up the yeast

Like other varieties of cinnamon rolls, Or's cinnamon roses rely on a yeasted dough, so you'll want to start these the night before you want to serve them so they can rise in the fridge — or first thing in the morning. And while the recipe takes a daunting nine-plus hours from start to finish, a lot of that time is actually just your dough chilling in the fridge, freeing you up to run errands, catch up on your Netflix queue, or, if you're like me, neurotically check how much time is left on your phone's timer every forty-five minutes. To wake up the yeast you'll need for your roses, stir it together with water and granulated sugar in a small bowl. Let the mixture mingle until foamy.

2. Form the light, fluffy dough and let it rise

Once the yeast has woken up, it's time to combine softened butter with salt and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer with a paddle attachment (or, if you don't have one, to a large mixing bowl and a handheld electric mixer). Beat until light and fluffy, then add some milk, an egg, and the foamy yeast mixture from earlier, and beat on low speed until incorporated. Be sure to scrape the sides of the bowl as needed, and don't freak out if the mixture looks broken at this point — that's ideal. Broken = Good (a mantra for us all).

With the mixer running on low speed, gradually add flour, beating until everything is nice and incorporated. Swap out the paddle attachment, for a dough hook and continue beating on medium speed until dough is smooth, elastic, and tacky. (If using a handheld mixer, you'll want to mix in the flour with a wooden spoon until incorporated, then knead the dough on a lightly floured surface instead of using the dough hook.) Transfer to a medium-size lightly greased (with cooking spray) bowl; cover tightly with plastic wrap. Chill at least 8 hours or up to overnight.

Cinnamon Roses Process
Michael Piazza

3. Roll out!

Turn out your dough onto a lightly floured surface and gently roll it out into a very thin layer. As you do this, gently rotate your dough and check underneath to make sure there isn't any stickage or rippage going on. Use a knife to cut your dough into an 18- x 12-inch rectangle, and make sure it's about 1/4-inch thick. Bask in the soothing sense of geometric perfection before you.

Cinnamon Roses Process
Michael Piazza

4. Make it rain cinnamon and sugar, then roll and slice

Get some butter very soft but not totally melted (patience is a virtue, here). Soften butter in a bowl on your countertop, but avoid using the microwave or heating it on the stove, since it'll melt rather than soften. Spread 6 tablespoons' worth of butter onto your dough rectangle. Stir together brown sugar, cinnamon, and remaining 1/3 cup granulated sugar; sprinkle mixture evenly over butter, pressing to adhere, but taking care not to make any indentations or small tears in the dough. Starting with 1 long side, tightly roll dough, jelly-roll fashion. Using a serrated knife or unflavored dental floss (really, this is not the time for mango or coconut floss), cut roll crosswise into 12 11/2-inch-wide slices. These are your roses!

5. Arrange your "roses" and bake

Preheat your oven to 350°F. Using a greased, parchment-lined round cake pan — or even a large ovenproof saucepan — arrange your roses cut-side down in a flower-like pattern, with one rose in the middle and the other roses in a circle around it. Cover loosely with plastic wrap, and let stand at room temperature until almost doubled in size, 45 minutes to 1 hour and 15 minutes. Bake roses in preheated oven until light golden brown, 22 to 26 minutes. Carefully remove roses from your vessel to a wire rack. Gaze lovingly at the most adult cinnamon rolls you've ever seen. Take too many pictures for Instagram. You've earned it!

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