Cake Batter Cinnamon Rolls

Soft & fluffy Cake Batter Cinnamon Buns from scratch. They taste like cupcakes! 

Soft & fluffy Cake Batter Cinnamon Buns from scratch. They taste like cupcakes!

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!

Baking with Yeast Guide

Reference this Baking with Yeast Guide whenever you work with baker’s yeast. I include practical answers to all of your common yeast questions.

Soft & fluffy Cake Batter Cinnamon Buns from scratch. They taste like cupcakes!

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. 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.**

Cake Batter Cinnamon Rolls (without cake 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.

Soft & fluffy Cake Batter Cinnamon Buns from scratch. They taste like cupcakes!

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 happy sprinkles. 😉

Soft & fluffy Cake Batter Cinnamon Buns from scratch. They taste like cupcakes!

**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.**

Follow me on Instagram and tag #sallysbakingaddiction so I can see all the SBA recipes you make. 

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Cake Batter Cinnamon Rolls

  • Author: Sally
  • Prep Time: 3 hours, 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 25 minutes
  • Total Time: 4 hours
  • Yield: 15 rolls
  • Category: Breakfast
  • Method: Baking
  • Cuisine: American

Description

Soft & fluffy cake batter cinnamon buns from scratch. They taste like cupcakes! 


Ingredients

Dough

  • 1 cup milk
  • 2/3 cup granulated 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 (spoon & leveled), plus more for dusting/rolling

Filling

  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour (spoon & leveled)
  • 2 Tablespoons nonfat dry milk powder (or dry coffee creamer – do *not* omit)
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, cold & cut into 4 pieces
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup sprinkles (not nonpareils)
  • 6 Tablespoons unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
  • 1 Tablespoon ground cinnamon

Glaze

  • 1 cup confectioners’ sugar
  • 3 Tablespoons heavy cream
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Instructions

  1. 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°F (35°C)). 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.
  2. 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.
  3. Line the bottom of a 9×13 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 10×24 inch rectangle. I used a ruler for accuracy. Make sure the dough is smooth and evenly thick, even at the corners.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. Preheat the oven to 400°F (204°C). Cover the rolls with aluminum foil and bake for about 25 minutes, until they are golden. Transfer the pan to a rack to cool for about 15 minutes.
  7. 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.

Notes

  1. Make Ahead & Freezing Instructions: 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.
  2. Yeast: 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.
  3. Shortcut: Omit first 6 ingredients from filling recipe and use 3/4 cup yellow cake mix instead.
  4. Reference my Baking with Yeast Guide for answers to common yeast FAQs.

Keywords: cake batter cinnamon rolls

PS: 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.

143 Comments

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  1. Rachel @ Baked by Rachel says:

    I want a bite of these so bad right now! Such torture reading delicious posts first thing in the morning after a substandard breakfast 😉

    1. Thanks for tweeting these, Rachel!

  2. Avery @ Southern Belle Living Well says:

    The fact that these don’t have to be made with a boxed cake mix just makes my heart sing. I get sooooo tired of finding delicious recipes that I have to head to the store for!

    1. I’m glad to hear that Avery! Let me know if you make them sometime.

  3. Averie @ Averie Cooks says:

    Cha-ching! Pinterest will be exploding with these. Nice work, my friend 🙂

    And onto the recipe and idea…so smart! I love a good scratch roll and the homemade cake batter crumbles are genius! I could sprinkle that on anything! I love that you can use dry milk powder OR coffee creamer powder. Now that’s something I am loving right there…along with all the sprinkles, the frosting, the buttery soft rolls. Yes, you totally outdid yourself!

    1. Thanks Averie! It’s tough because my most popular recipes are sweet rolls AND recipes where I have used cake mix. But there are so many mixed feelings on cake mix! Glad you like them!

  4. Tina @ Tina's Chic says:

    Oh my goodness these look so pretty & tasty. I love cinnamon rolls! There is a time & place for cake mixes but I’m glad your recipe doesn’t have it in it. For some reason I find myself making cinnamon buns last minute in the morning & I don’t usually have a cake mix handy. Cannot wait to try these!

    1. Let me know how you like them, Tina!

  5. Kelly @ Hidden Fruits and Veggies says:

    This is the perfect way to start off a week! Your sweet rolls are already pretty amazing, so my mind is pretty much blown by this

    1. It puts a little fun into Monday, right?!

  6. Cassie | Bake Your Day says:

    Isn’t Platinum the best? It’s all I use anymore, regardless of what kind of recipe I’m making. Never fails me. I love these, girl!

    1. YES! It’s like a miracle working little packet of yeast, Cassie. Seriously – it took me less than half the time to make these using platinum. Insane and I love it!

  7. Erin | The Law Student's Wife says:

    I never get tired of your fun twists on sweet rolls! Thanks for the happy Monday sprinkles Sally!

    1. I’m glad to hear that b/c I have more where these came from! 🙂

  8. These are really fun! They would be perfect for a birthday breakfast!

    1. I agree! That’s why I’m freezing them for my birthday in a couple months!

  9. Kayle (The Cooking Actress) says:

    ahhhh stop it! Amazing. Too awesome for words (and I love that you didn’t use cake mix)!

  10. Eva @ Eva Bakes says:

    Gorgeous cinnamon rolls, Sally! Sprinkles definitely make everything better, and these rolls are no exception! Sounds like yet another must-try item to add to my to-bake list. 🙂

    1. Let me know how you like them, Eva! And use Red Star Platinum yeast here – it is the best yeast to work with!

  11. Jennie @themessybakerblog says:

    Girl, you just brightened my day with these rolls. They look fantabulous! Now, to trudge out in the snow 🙁 If only I had one of these!

    1. Stay safe in the snow, Jennie!

  12. Sally, when are you going to write your own cookbook!??!

    1. hopefully very very soon. 🙂

  13. Mondays should ALWAYS have sprinkles! These are lovely Sally! I’m inspired!

    1. I 100% support Monday = sprinkles. 🙂

  14. Sarah @ Making Thyme for Health says:

    Wow, I can’t think of a better combination! These look incredible!

  15. Beautiful rolls, Sally! Everything just looks better with sprinkles, amiright?! So fluffy and soft-looking…can’t wait to try these! 🙂

  16. Ali | Gimme Some Oven says:

    Great idea! All of those sprinkles are so fun!

  17. Agreed! That’s what I suggested too, Easter is the perfect morning for these!

  18. Jocelyn @BruCrew Life says:

    We always use the Platinum yeast when making homemade pizza dough…it is the best one out there!! What an absolutely fun anytime breakfast! Sprinkles in the morning are definitely the way to wake up!!! And homemade cake batter crumbles…girl, you are seriously on a roll!!!! LOL no pun intended 😉

  19. Gloria @ Simply Gloria says:

    Don’t you just love making homemade cake mix? We were brought up always making it from scratch. I always have a box of dry powdered milk in my pantry for things like the homemade hot coco mix, too. But Ialso use it in my (yeast) breadsticks…I’ll let you know when I put that recipe up! But these Cake Batter Cinnamon Rolls are to die for! So pretty…and perfect for ANY occasion…I’m thinkin’ this weekend! (=

    1. Yes I need to see that breadstick recipe Gloria! 🙂

  20. Jen @ Savory Simple says:

    Whyyyy don’t you live closer? I need these ASAP!

  21. Marcie @ FlavortheMoments says:

    Sally, these look phenomenal! You’ve out done yourself yet again!

    1. Well thank you very much Marcie!

  22. Caroline @ Pass the Cocoa says:

    These are amazing Sally!! I love the idea of a cake batter flavored filling, instead of the dough. It looks delicious (:

    1. It was easier to impart the flavor into the filling than mess with the dough. I took the easy way out. 😉

  23. I’ve made cake batter cinnamon rolls before, but always with a box mix for the filling! The fact that there’s no box mix involved makes this so much easier because everything else is already in my kitchen!

    1. how perfect then Faith! Let me know if you make them sometime.

  24. sarah k @ the pajama chef says:

    delicious! sprinkles make anything better 🙂

  25. These look absolutely amazing!! I bet they taste great!

  26. Ari @ Ari's Menu says:

    OMG. Hold on, just going to hijack a plane to Baltimore so I can show up at your doorstep and demand you feed me the best looking cinnamon rolls I’ve ever seen. I hope that’s not a problem.

    1. haha not a problem at all Ari 🙂

  27. Anna @ Crunchy Creamy Sweet says:

    Oh, these are so genius, Sally! I love the idea of cake mix from scratch as a filling. Pinning!

    1. Thanks Anna! and thank you for pinning.

  28. I second Red Star Platinum yeast! Works great EVERY time and I think it seems to cut down on proofing time as well.

    1. Yes, exactly! That’s why I love it so much. It saves so much time.

  29. Jen @ Jen's Favorite Cookies says:

    I’ve never been big on cinnamon rolls, but I might change my mind if they have sprinkles! 😉

  30. Jocelyn (Grandbaby Cakes) says:

    Those just look like so much fun to eat! And eating should be fun right?

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