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, plus more for dusting/rolling (spoon & leveled)

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.

141 Comments

  1. These are just too pretty–I can’t even handle it. I love love love cinnamon rolls but I’ve never made them before! Crazy, I know. Maybe I’m afraid of yeast! I’m making this ASAP.

    1. Don’t be afraid! Red Star Platinum yeast is perfect for beginners – it cuts down on rise time. Let me know how you like them Alexis!

  2. Oh my goodness! I cannot believe this! It never crossed my mind to mix a cake batter with yeast, and get cinnamon rolls! Oh so amazing!

  3. I want to make this for Easter – we are doing brunch at my in-laws. They are all on diets so they will hate me for this LOL! Thanks for the amazing recipe!!

  4. Sally, every Monday morning should require sprinkles, fluffy bread and icing. Just looking at your pictures makes me smile.

    1. that was my goal. today is snowy, dreary, and rainy and I want to do is eat a cake batter cinnamon bun loaded with colorful, cheery sprinkles!

  5. I love how much you love sprinkles. Because I adore sprinkles, and then I get to see recipes like these COVERED WITH THEM. I can’t imagine a better breakfast heehee. 😉

  6. I think that in addition to writing a cookbook you need to open a bakery!

    Holy smokes girl, these look ridiculous! My kids would go bonkers if I fed them these for breakfast, or any time of day really. Sprinkles for the win!

  7. I love sprinkles {almost} as much as you, Sally! These cinnamon rolls will be perfect for the Easter brunch that I am making for my mom, husband and sister 🙂

  8. Sally, I made cinnamon rolls this weekend too! I swear we are on the same baking pattern 🙂 I made orange infused cinnamon rolls! Cake batter are definitely on my too do list- just haven’t gotten to them yet! Yours look so scrumptious! I just love how pretty things look with sprinkles! Your dough looks super soft and fluffy! And yes red star yeast is the best!! LOVE!

  9. How do you manage to update so frequently Sally?? You amaze me! And haha… your love of sprinkles makes me laugh. I do think they make everything look so happy though. And happiness + baking = a very very very good day! xx

    1. Hey Laura! I drink a lot of coffee and and have a lot of determination. 🙂 And yes, sprinkles = happy and baking = happy. Thank you for the kind words!

  10. At the risk of sounding like a commerical, those look magical! 😉 But really, they do! I love the dots of color on the inside, and the sprinkly glaze is so cute! I’m glad you got over your fear of yeast…you sure are coming up with a bunch of awesome recipes for us all to drool over as our eyes pop. 😀

  11. Wow I love that there’s no boxed cake mix involved.
    They look amazing! I pinned this 🙂

  12. Somebody ‘pinch me’ or wait….I don’t want to wake up from this yummy dream I’m having!!:-) so gonna try these!!

  13. ahh, I love that these have no cake mix in it and it’s made entirely from scratch! I can definitely tell a difference with your breads/pastries that use Red Star Yeast platinum – they just seem so airy and fluffy! These look so fun and perfect for any breakfast 🙂

  14. These sound amazing! I may have to make these for my coworkers birthday coming up. Also, I hope its normal to look at the computer screen and drool while viewing all your amazing creations.

  15. My fat pants are hating you right now… ;). But honestly, these cinnamon rolls are the best thing since slice bread.

  16. Oh Sally, is there anything you can’t do!? Lol just when I think you can’t be more amazing, you bake up something like this! So inspired/proud of you 😀

  17. These make me so happy Sally! All those sprinkles inside and out – I can’t wipe the smile off my face. I love how you recreated cake mix without any cake mix. These rock! Totally worthy of birthday breakfast.

  18. Sally, these all look so delicious! I have no idea what we’re doing for Easter dinner (or what we’re doing all day, except church in the morning) but maybe I’ll just stay home all day and cook all of these recipes!

    Ps. I’ve been taking your advice, on I think your photography tips you suggested taking pictures vertically and I have been loving it. I had to re think what I was doing at first, but now I think its making them better, plus the pics are huge and beautiful on my blog now and I love it.

    1. Hey Aimee!Shooting vertically is definitely awkward at first, but you get used to it. I’m glad you are starting to do it that way – headed to go check it out now!

      1. I’ve got a couple recipes upcoming in the next week that I’m really excited to share. And I’m really proud of my pictures of them too.

  19. Oh, hi, sexiest funfetti cinnamon rolls on the face of the freakin’ PLANET. I love you and want you in my face stat.

    These rolls and their lack of cake mix (which seems like it’s defying like, seven different kinds of physics laws or something), are incredible. Who couldn’t use a sprinkle overdose on a Monday morning?! And second, I want your bowls!

  20. I made these for my son’s birthday breakfast this morning and they were amazing! Thank goodness he had a picnic at school so I could send the rest off with him — I am sure I could not have been trusted with them. The leftover cake batter crumbs are great mixed into plain yogurt. Mmmmmm… cake batter yogurt….

    1. I am so glad to hear it. And cake batter yogurt – I never even thought about that! such a wonderful suggestion. Thank you for reporting back and happy bday to your son!

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