babka cinnamon roll
Photo credit Sheri Silver

You Are Going to Love These Giant Babka Cinnamon Rolls

Too delicious to share.

When I was a kid, my family would occasionally start Saturday mornings off with a treat that every little girl with a sweet tooth dreams of: Pillsbury Grands cinnamon rolls. They were ooey and gooey and messy topped with a cream cheese icing that rivaled Cinnabon any day of the week. I could’ve eaten a dozen if left to my own devices. 

As I’ve gotten older, the magic of a can of cinnamon rolls has faded a little. These days, I prefer to make my own, tweaking the traditional recipe to combine this childhood treat with one of my favorite Jewish bakes. Enter: Babka Cinnamon Rolls. 

This recipe takes a traditional brown sugar-cinnamon babka and turns it into pure decadence by condensing the standard loaf into single-serving brioche rolls and topping them with a cream cheese icing. Different from the cinnamon rolls you may be used to, this dough isn’t as sweet and includes ribbons of buttery brown sugar and cinnamon layered throughout.

You can use bread flour or all-purpose flour to make the babka dough, though I prefer bread flour because it has a higher protein content and leaves the rolls fluffier and chewier. 

These rolls are not complicated to make, but need to proof/rest three times, for a total of three hours. The first, and longest, proof is two hours, so plan your day accordingly!

This recipe yields four big, generous cinnamon rolls that perhaps should technically feed more than one person each, but that you’ll probably eat all by yourself (and enjoy every bite). They are the perfect breakfast pastry  – after all, how bad can a day be when it starts with one of these? 

If, for whatever reason, you’re not able to finish them all at once, you can store the baked rolls in the fridge for up to three days. Just pop them in the microwave for 20-30 seconds to warm them back up before digging in.

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Photo credit Sheri Silver

Giant Babka Cinnamon Rolls

These babka cinnamon rolls are inspired by the Pillsbury Grands cinnamon rolls I loved as a child. This recipe takes traditional brown sugar-cinnamon babka and turns it into single-serving (giant!) brioche rolls, topped with a generous amount of cream cheese frosting. 

  • Total Time: 4 hours
  • Yield: 4 rolls 1x

Ingredients

Scale

For the dough: 

  • ½ cup milk
  • 1 packet (2 ¼ tsp) active dry yeast
  • ¼ cup sugar + ¼ tsp, divided
  • 7 Tbsp unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 egg + 1 egg yolk at room temperature
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • ¼ tsp cinnamon
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 3 ½ cups bread flour

For the cinnamon filling:

  • 1 cup dark brown sugar
  • 3 Tbsp cinnamon
  • ⅓ cup butter, softened

For the cream cheese icing:

  • 4 oz cream cheese, softened
  • 1 ½ cups confectionaire’s sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 Tbsp milk

Instructions

  1. Start by making your dough. Heat milk to 100-110°F (about 45 seconds-1 minute 30 seconds in the microwave). If you don’t have a thermometer, you can insert a (clean!) finger into the milk, which should feel warm but not scalding hot. Stir in yeast + ¼ tsp sugar and allow to sit for 10 minutes until the yeast activates and becomes foamy.
  2. In a stand mixer with the dough hook attachment, add in the egg, egg yolk, vanilla, ¼ cup sugar, cinnamon, salt, yeast mixture and flour, and mix until combined. It’ll be crumbly at this point and not fully come together.
  3. Begin adding softened butter a Tbsp at a time. Allow each piece of butter to fully incorporate into the dough before adding more. Once butter has been fully incorporated, continue mixing until dough is uniform and elastic.
  4. Transfer dough to a large greased bowl and cover with a towel or plastic wrap. Allow the dough to rise until it has doubled in size, around 2 hours. 
  5. Meanwhile, make the cinnamon filling: Add ingredients to a bowl or a stand mixer with the paddle attachment and mix to combine.
  6. After the dough has risen, prepare a cookie sheet with parchment paper.
  7. On a floured cutting board or a silicone baking mat, roll the dough to about 12×9 inches and spread the cinnamon filling across it, leaving ½ inch bare around the perimeter of the dough. 
  8. Using water, wet the longest bare dough edge nearest you and then roll the dough tightly into a log.
  9. Refrigerate the dough for 20-30 minutes. 
  10. Cut the log in half lengthwise to expose the layers then cut the strips in half lengthwise again. This should leave you with four long pieces of dough.
  11. Wet one side of each piece and pinch one end together. Starting with the pinched end, tightly roll each piece with the wet side facing in, so that the dough will stick to itself. Pinch and wet the other end and tuck it underneath the roll to keep it from unraveling. 
  12. Once you’ve made your four rolls, place them evenly spaced apart on your cookie sheet.
  13. Preheat your oven to 350°F and allow your rolls to rise for 30 more minutes. 
  14. Bake the rolls for 20-30 minutes.
  15. Meanwhile, make the icing: Place 1½ cups confectionaire’s sugar and the cream cheese in a mixer bowl and beat well to combine. Add the vanilla and the milk. For thicker icing, add more confectionaire’s sugar, a Tbsp at a time until you reach the desired consistency. Allow the rolls to cool slightly before topping with the cream cheese icing.
  • Author: Hannah Paperno
  • Prep Time: 30 minutes
  • Cook Time: 30 minutes
  • Category: Breakfast
  • Method: Baking
  • Cuisine: Ashkenazi

9 comments

Leave a Comment

Recipe rating 5 Stars 4 Stars 3 Stars 2 Stars 1 Star

  • Mary Loera

    Fir all that work and time, I would make them smaller and thus have more rolls!

  • Dave Schwartz

    I have a question that I wish someone could answer.

    Can the dough be prepared with the dough cycle in a bread machine? Is there any difference to how the stand mixer works to mix the dough compared to just using the bread machine and stopping at dough cycle (not baking).

    • The Nosher

      We have not tested this recipe with a bread machine, but there are babka recipes out there that use one, so it could work. Please report back!

  • Esther Moss

    I’ve been looking for a cinnamon bun recipe that makes only a few rolls. I’m eager to try these.

  • JOSÉ ROBERTO PENNA FIRME

    IT´S AN AMAZING RECIPE … AS A CHEF I TRIED AND REAL WORKS … JUST NEED TO FOLLOW THE RECIPES…

  • esther rose

    a wonderful Babka to make and share with friends just the smell of them cooking is delightful

  • Jesuspeople R Stupid

    Then why did you five it one out of five stars???

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