whole wheat cardamom-cinnamon rolls with orange-almond glaze

Once, while at a ladies’ retreat in the mountains, a few of us decided to escape the camp food and explore the quaint college town below for a few hours. Eventually we ended up at a funky little coffee shop where I found a large, luscious cinnamon roll covered with thick cream cheese icing. Time was short, so we piled in the car, me with my sweet treasure in hand, and headed back up to the camp. In the back seat, I took a large bite of my cinnamon roll and let out a sigh of ecstasy, making my friends laugh while one said, man, that must be some cinnamon roll. 

Although that cinnamon roll was the stuff of dreams then, I’ve found another one that meets that standard and more, and it’s made entirely with white whole wheat flour. A combination of cardamom and cinnamon in the filling and some almond extract in the glaze add an interesting quirkiness. The doughy sweetness of the roll is balanced by the creamy sourness of the glaze, and the combination knocks me out.

To make these cinnamon rolls I adapted the dough and filling recipe from kingarthurflour.com’s “Ridiculously Easy No-Knead Sticky Buns” and tweaked Peter Reinhart’s cream cheese glaze from his “Whole Wheat Cinnamon Buns” recipe in Whole Grain Breads:New Techniques, Extraordinary Flavor. With an easy overnight rise that requires only one roll-out before baking and one hour to proof, it’s relatively easy to do. There’s also an option to shape and refrigerate the unbaked rolls overnight and bake them the next morning, making it easy to serve them for breakfast. Fresh, warm, homemade cinnamon rolls for breakfast? Yes, yes, yes and yes.

Whole Wheat Cardamom-Cinnamon Rolls with Orange-Almond Glaze

(adapted from kingarthurflour.com and Whole Grain Breads:New Techniques, Extraordinary Flavor by Peter Reinhart)

2-1/3 cup/12.30 oz./350g white whole wheat flour, freshly ground if possible
1-1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 tablespoon instant yeast
2/3 cup/5.35 oz./150g warm water
2 large eggs
3 tablespoons/2 oz./60g raw honey
3 tablespoons/1.35 oz./38g unsalted butter, melted

2/3 cup sucanat (you can substitute brown sugar)
1/2 tablespoon ground cardamom
1/2 tablespoon ground cinnamon
1/2 tablespoon water

4 ounces cream cheese
3 tablespoons whole milk
1 teaspoon almond extract
2 tablespoons raw honey
1 teaspoon grated orange zest
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

The night before:

Measure and mix dry ingredients for dough together in a medium bowl or container. Measure and mix together wet ingredients in a separate bowl, then stir into the dry ingredients until completely incorporated. Dough will be very moist and thick. Cover loosely, set in a warm area, and let rise for 2 hours. After the 2 hours, cover bowl or container tightly and place in refrigerator overnight.

The next day:

Remove dough from refrigerator. Mix together ingredients for the filling and set aside. Dust a work surface with flour. Remove dough from container and form into a round, then flatten into a small rectangle. Dust work surface with more flour, and roll the dough, working out from the center, into an 18-inch by 12-inch rectangle, with the long side of the rectangle facing you horizontally. If the dough is sticky, dust very lightly with flour as you continue to roll it out. When the dough is completely rolled out, spread the filling evenly over the dough, pressing down lightly, and leaving a 1/4-inch border around the edges of the dough without filling.

Begin to roll the long side of the dough towards you into a cylinder, using a plastic dough scraper to lift the edges of the dough as you roll, being careful not to roll too tightly. Continue to roll the dough until it forms a cylinder. Make a cut in the length of the cylinder every 2 inches, creating 9 separate rolls. Butter an 8-inch by 8-inch square pan and place the rolls in the pan, spacing evenly, three to a row. Press down lightly on each roll to flatten the top very slightly. Cover with plastic wrap and place in a warm area. Let rise for one hour until rolls are very puffy and crowding each other in the pan.

(Note: To make ahead of time, the recipe can be made up to the point of placing the rolls in the pan, flattening the tops, and covering with plastic wrap. Instead of proofing for an hour, refrigerate overnight. A good strategy is to start a couple days ahead of the morning you want to serve them. On the first evening, mix the dough, let rise, cover and refrigerate overnight. On the second evening, prepare the rolls, place in the pan, cover with plastic, and refrigerate overnight. The next morning remove the rolls from the refrigerator, preheat the oven, then bake, adding several minutes to the baking time to compensate for the chilled dough).

Remove the cream cheese from the refrigerator so it can soften while the rolls rise. About 15 minutes before the rolls are finished rising, preheat the oven to 350ºF. When the rolls are done rising, place in oven on center rack and bake for 25 minutes, rotating pan 180º degrees halfway through the baking time. Remove from oven when the top of the rolls are lightly browned. Let stand for 10 minutes in the pan.

While the rolls are cooling slightly, mix together the ingredients for the glaze, whisking until smooth. Once the rolls have cooled for 10 minutes, scoop about a tablespoon of glaze on top of the center of each roll, spreading it over each roll as you go, until entire pan is covered. Glaze will melt slightly and spread between each roll. Let cool a little longer and drizzle a little more glaze on the top of each roll. Serve any leftover glaze on the side with the rolls.

Makes 9 medium cinnamon rolls

9 thoughts on “whole wheat cardamom-cinnamon rolls with orange-almond glaze

  1. Wow! I cannot wait to try these. I’ve been looking for an amazing cinnamon roll recipe to try, especially something that I can let rise overnight and bake in the morning to Wow the fam. This will do! Thanks!

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