Cake Batter Cinnamon Buns… without cake mix.
I’m not sure you’re ready for this. I mean it’s only Monday. But a little sprinkle and funfetti to my mundane Mondays never hurt anyone, right?!
I made cake batter cinnamon rolls over the weekend and I didn’t even have to touch the box of cake mix I have in the pantry. That’s right! It’s possible to make these without cake mix. I found the inspiration for today’s recipe from my Mini (no yeast) Cake Batter Cinnamon Buns. I made those rolls last summer before I began baking with yeast and before I began using less cake mix in my homemade recipes. For a shortcut AND a mini version, try those instead.
The dough recipe I used for these rolls is the same dough recipe I used for my Raspberry Swirl Sweet Rolls. And it’s really quite easy! If you are afraid of yeast, please do not be intimidated; there is hardly any “work time” involved, just some “wait time” as the yeast does its job. Again, if you are fearful of using yeast, do not let that stop you from making these. It is a simple and straightforward recipe.
I chose to use this particular dough recipe as the base for today’s colorful rolls because I love how fluffy the end result is. The rolls are soft, tender, buttery, and sweet and truly make a wonderful “starter” dough recipe for any sort of filling. And I figured their fluffy, pillow-y texture and buttery taste would make the perfect base for a funfetti center. Swirls of sprinkles and sweet dough – how can you go wrong?
For the yeast, I used Red Star Platinum. I highly suggest this yeast as it significantly cuts down on waiting/rising time. And no, I am not compensated to say it – I swear by Red Star Platinum yeast for ultimate fluffiness!
I wrote a lengthy post about each and every step making this dough in my Raspberry Swirl Sweet Rolls post. **I highly suggest you read that before making these rolls because there are extra notes to know beforehand, especially if this is your first time baking with yeast.**
While the dough ingredients and prep methods are the same, I obviously used a different filling and I altered the glaze recipe a bit as well. Let’s start with the filling. The crème de la crème of today’s rolls. And there is no cake mix, preservatives, or funky little ingredients you can’t pronounce involved. It’s a win-win situation.
How did I achieve the cake batter flavor without cake mix? Well, I began thinking about the texture and taste of actual cake mix. Creamy, buttery, powdery smooth, vanilla-y, and sweet. I took those 5 main attributes and brainstormed ways to get them without using a box mix. For a creamy texture, I used dry milk powder. I had a box of dry milk powder in the pantry from when I made DIY hot cocoa mix a few weeks ago. You may find it in the coffee section of most grocery stores where the dry coffee creamer is. And in fact, you could also use dry coffee creamer instead of the dry nonfat milk powder. For the buttery flavor, I used cold butter. For the powdery smoothness, I used all-purpose flour. For the vanilla taste, I used vanilla extract. And for the sweetness, I used sugar. A cake batter filling without any cake mix.
Pulse it all in a food processor a few times with some salt to reach a crumbly texture. Stir in 1/2 cup of sprinkles – do not use nonpareils (the little balls) in your homemade cake batter mix. The butter will melt in the oven and the colors of the nonpareils will bleed. You may use nonpareils to decorate the rolls with the glaze before serving.
The recipe for the homemade cake batter crumbles makes a bit more than you will use in today’s recipe. Any extras may be tossed or used to make my Cake Batter Rice Krispie Treats or Mini (no yeast) Cake Batter Cinnamon Buns. **I do not suggest using this homemade mix to make my Cake Batter Chocolate Chip Cookies or Cake Batter Blondies – the texture and ratios will be off without a leavening agent present in the mix.**
Sprinkle the homemade cake batter crumbles on top of the rolled out dough along with some cinnamon and softened butter. The butter will allow the cake batter crumbles to stick and the cinnamon is just necessary for cinnamon rolls, right?! I do not suggest leaving out the cinnamon as there may not be enough flavor without it. Plus, cake batter + cinnamon rolls are a killer combination! Just look at them – this one INSANE breakfast pastry.
When the rolls are finished in the oven and ready to serve, glaze them with the easiest vanilla glaze in the entire world. Heavy cream, vanilla extract, and powdered sugar. Feel free to use half-and-half or milk in lieu of heavy cream. With either half-and-half or milk, keep in mind it you may need more sugar than I used to get the glaze to be as thick and creamy.
Shower the rolls with the sweet glaze and top with more sprinkles. The more sprinkles, the better.
I love the pops of color inside the coiled, fluffy dough – gorgeous tie-dye breakfast confections. And look how puffy and soft that dough is – this is truly the fluffiest, most tender yeast roll I’ve ever had. You will love this recipe!
Serve the rolls warm and glaze right before serving. Any extra rolls may be frozen for up to two months, without the glaze. My birthday is only 2 short months away and you better believe this will be breakfast. Breakfast in bed, please (Kevin are you reading?).
There is nothing like a homemade sweet roll. Especially one with so much
**I highly suggest you read this detailed post before making these rolls because there are extra notes to know about the dough beforehand, especially if this is your first time baking with yeast.**
Cake Batter Cinnamon Rolls
Makes 15 rolls. Active time: 30 min, Total: 4 hours (or overnight).
Make ahead: The recipe can be prepared through Step 5. Cover the rolls and let sit overnight at room temperature before baking in step 6. Baked rolls can be frozen up to 2 months and warmed up to enjoy at a later date. Glaze right before serving.
- 1 cup milk
- 2/3 cup sugar
- 1 and 1/2 tablespoons active dry yeast (2 standard size packets)*
- 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
- 2 large eggs
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 4 and 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting/rolling
- ½ cup sugar
- ¾ cup all-purpose flour
- 2 Tablespoons nonfat dry milk powder (or dry coffee creamer - do *not* omit)
- ¼ tsp salt
- ¼ cup unsalted butter (1/2 stick), cold & cut into 4 pieces
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- ½ cup sprinkles (not nonpareils)
- 6 Tablespoons unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
- 1 Tablespoon ground cinnamon
- 1 cup powdered (confectioners’) sugar
- 3 Tablespoons heavy cream
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- Make The Dough: In a small saucepan, warm the milk over low heat until lukewarm (no need to use a thermometer, but to be precise: about 95 degrees F). Pour the warm milk into the bowl of a stand electric mixer fitted with the dough hook attachment and manually stir in the sugar and yeast. Cover with a towel and let stand until the yeast is foamy, about 5-10 minutes. Add the softened butter, eggs, and salt. Scrape down the sides and manually stir as needed. Chunks of butter will remain. Gradually add the flour and beat at medium speed until a soft dough forms. Increase speed to medium-high and beat until the dough is soft and supple, about 6 minutes longer. *If you do not have a stand-mixer with a hook attachment, knead the dough by hand in this step.
- Transfer the dough to a lightly floured surface and knead it with your hands for about 2 minutes. Form the dough into a ball and transfer it to a lightly greased bowl. Cover the dough and let sit in a warm place until doubled in size, 1 to 2 hours.
- Line the bottom of a 9x13 inch baking dish with parchment paper, leaving room on the sides. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and, using a rolling in, roll into a 10x24 inch rectangle. I used a ruler for accuracy. Make sure the dough is smooth and evenly thick, even at the corners.
- Make The Filling: In a food processor, combine the sugar, flour, milk powder, and salt. Process for 10 seconds. Add the pieces of butter and pulse for 10 more seconds. Add the vanilla over the top and pulse until the mixture is crumbly, about 10 more seconds. Toss in the sprinkles with a fork.
- Spread dough with 6 Tablespoons of softened butter and top with cinnamon. Sprinkle 3/4 cup of the cake mix filling overtop. There will be some leftover. See below for suggested uses. Tightly roll up the dough to form a 24-inch-long log. Cut into 15 even rolls (about 1.5 inches in width each). Arrange them in the prepared baking pan, cut sides up. Cover the rolls and let them rise in a warm place until they are puffy, about 2 hours.
- Preheat the oven to 400F degrees. Cover the rolls with aluminum foil and bake for about 25 minutes, until they are golden and the berries are bubbling. Transfer the pan to a rack to cool for about 15 minutes.
- Make The Glaze: In a small bowl, whisk the confectioner’s sugar, heavy cream, and vanilla until smooth. Add more sugar or cream, depending how thick you want the glaze. Pour glaze over the rolls and serve warm.
*I suggest using Red Star Platinum yeast. This will cut the rising time down significantly. About 1 hour for the first rise and 1 hour for the second rise.
*Shortcut: Omit first 6 ingredients from filling recipe and use 3/4 cup yellow cake mix instead.
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Birthday morning breakfast? Yes!
No particular occasion? Of course. ;)
The homemade cake batter filling recipe makes a little bit more than what you will use for today’s cinnamon rolls. I suggest using the extras to make my Cake Batter Rice Krispie Treats.
You could also use the extra cake batter filling to make my Mini (no yeast) Cake Batter Cinnamon Rolls.
Love cake batter? See all of my cake batter recipes. Some with cake mix and some without.