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Gingerbread Cinnamon Rolls {#GRAINHoliday}

Gingerbread Cinnamon Rolls from
A while back, I posed a serious question on Facebook. "Gingerbread: Cake or Bread?"  I mean, it's cake.  We all know it's cake.  So why is it called bread!?  It's one of life's little mysteries.  Like driving on a parkway and parking on a driveway.  It just is.  The majority of people said cake.  A few stepped out of the box and chose bread.  And I'm happy that somebody answered "cookies", because my life just would not be complete without one smart-alec in the mix.  Usually it's me, so...

But anyway, I decided then and there that I was going to make it my mission to turn gingerbreadcake into actual gingerbread.  I'm talking full-on yeast bread, too.  A quick bread would be just too close to cake to actually be considered different, I think.

Don't get me wrong, though - I LOVE me some good old-fashioned gingerbread.  Especially around Christmas and the holiday season, in general.  But I got it in my head to do something, so do it, I did.  That's a fun thing to say..."so do it, I did". Really. Try it.

Gingerbread Cinnamon Rolls from
But I didn't just do it.  I did it with style.  I turned it into cinnamon rolls.  Because not only does gingerbread remind me of Christmas, so do cinnamon rolls.  Christmas morning consists of hot coffee, oranges and fruit, cheese, and some sort of sweet bun or muffin warm and enticing straight from the oven.  The savory cheese and the fresh fruit are the perfect foil for the sweetness.

So, I went about putting together a cinnamon bun that used the same flavorings that gingerbread used. Warming spices like ginger (duh), cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, and allspice were a given.  Molasses and brown sugar did the sweetening.  A hint of cocoa powder for added color.
Gingerbread Cinnamon Rolls from
I also used a mix of flours.  Since Hodgson Mill sent me a few free bags, including one Hodgson Mill stone-ground White Whole Wheat flour, I added that to the mix because boosting a cinnamon roll with fiber and vitamins is never a bad thing.  But I also used some white bread flour, because I find that using only whole wheat flour can make cinnamon rolls seem heavy, so they would benefit from that extra gluten power.

I topped them off with a tangy lemon icing, since that's what I love on top of my gingerbread.  The results were a delicious, lightly-gingerbread-scented cinnamon roll.  Yes, lightly.  So, back to the drawing board it is for an in-your-face version of gingerBREAD.  But that doesn't mean I'm snubbing these.  They are still very reminiscent of gingerbread.  Plus, they're delicious.  The sweet roll against the lemony icing?  Oh. Yes.

Gingerbread Cinnamon Rolls
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Gingerbread Cinnamon Rolls from
by Heather Schmitt-Gonzalez
Prep Time: 3 hours (mostly unattended)
Cook Time: 20-25 minutes
Keywords: bake bread breakfast dessert vegetarian soy-free nut-free flour lemons Christmas American

Ingredients (12 rolls)
  • 4 ounces (1 stick/½ cup) unsalted butter, at room temperature (soft, but not melty)
  • 1/2 cup whole milk, at room temperature
  • 1/4 cup molasses
  • 1/4 cup water, lukewarm (~115° F)
  • 3/4 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 large egg
  • 1-1/2 cups Hodgson Mill Whole Wheat flour
  • 1-1/2 cups bread flour
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 2¼ teaspoon (1 pkg) rapid rise yeast
for the filling:
  • 4 ounces (1 stick/½ cup) unsalted butter, at room temperature (soft, but not melty)
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • zest of 1 lemon
  • big pinch of sea salt
for the glaze:
  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • ~3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • zest of 1 lemon
equipment needed:
  • bread machine
  • measuring cups and spoons
  • small bowl
  • rolling pin
  • microplane zester
  • 9" x 13" baking pan
  • serrated knife

for the dough:
Place everything in the order listed in the insert of a bread machine. Select dough setting. During the kneading cycle, check the dough. It should be slightly tacky, but not sticky; adjust as needed by adding a light sprinkling of flour. Allow the bread to mix, knead, and rise in the machine until it signals.

for the filling:
While dough is rising, combine everything except the lemon zest, in a large bowl and beat with a wooden spoon to combine; set aside. Hold on to the lemon zest until later.

finishing the dough:
When dough has doubled in bulk, tip it out of the bowl onto a lightly floured work surface.
Pat and roll into a roughly a 16"x12" rectangle. Spread the reserved cinnamon-spice butter evenly over the dough, leaving a 1-inch border all around. Sprinkle the lemon zest over the filling (I just use my microplane and zest it right over the top). If your filling is too cool to spread, stick the bowl in the microwave in 5 second blasts, stirring until just smooth. Don't leave it in longer than needed, though, or it will be too runny and just pour out the edges when you try to roll and cut it.

Roll the dough into a tight cylinder, starting at a long edge. Pinch all along the edge to seal. Place dough, seam side down, on a cutting board. Using a serrated knife, slice off the ends if they are uneven; cut into 12 equal slices.

Arrange slices, cut side up, in a greased 9"x13" pan. Each roll should have a bit of space on all sides. Cover with plastic wrap and leave to rest in a warm place for 90-120 minutes, until they've puffed up nice and big and are touching. Preheat oven to 375° F during last 15 minutes of rise time.
Gingerbread Cinnamon Rolls from
Slide into preheated oven and bake for 20-25 minutes, until golden.

for the glaze:
While the rolls are cooling slightly, whisk the lemon juice into the powdered, if it seems too stiff, loosen it up with a drop or two of hot water or more lemon juice. Lastly, stir in the lemon zest. You want a good, thick icing.

Drizzle or spread over slightly cooled rolls.

My kids thought the icing was too lemony.  If you want to tone it down a bit, just use water, milk, or buttermilk in place of the lemon juice, but keep the zest in there.  Or go half and half with the lemon juice and "other".
Gingerbread Cinnamon Rolls from
Hodgson Mill is providing one of my readers with a $25 prize pack of assorted Hodgson Mill products.  The winner will have their choice of whole wheat or gluten free products as defined below.  This giveaway is open to anybody with a shipping address (no p.o. boxes) in the USA.

Whole Wheat Prize Assortment:
  • A copy of the Hodgson Mill Cookbook
  • 1 2LB bag Whole Wheat Flour
  • 1 bag 9-Grain Bread Mix
  • 1 box Whole Wheat Angel Hair Pasta
  • 1 package Quinoa & Brown Rice (Garlic and Herb flavor)
  • 1 package Steel Cut Oats
  • A variety of promotional products spatula, measuring spoon, pizza cutter
Gluten Free Assortment:
  • A copy of the Hodgson Mill Cookbook
  • 1 package Gluten Free Brown Rice w/ Golden Milled Flax Seed
  • 1 box Gluten Free Sweet Yellow Cornbread mix
  • 1 package Gluten Free Seasoned Coating Mix
  • 1 package Quinoa & Brown Rice (Garlic and Herb flavor)
  • A variety of promotional products spatula, measuring spoon, pizza cutter

How to enter: (mandatory) Leave a comment on this post letting me know which of the two prize packs you would choose.  Don't forget to confirm your entry in the rafflecopter widget, after which many more optional entries will be available.

In the meantime, Hodgson Mill is holding a "25 Days of #GRAINHoliday" Sweepstakes.  You can enter to win a $25 prize pack every day for 25 days on their Facebook page.  Click HERE to enter!

While you're waiting, feel free to grab this $1 off coupon from Hodgson Mill – good for any 5 lb. bag of flour or cornmeal.  Holiday baking waits for no one!
a Rafflecopter giveaway

A winner will be chosen using random draw via the rafflecopter widget within 48 hours of the close of this contest, and notified via email. Winner will have 24 hours from the time the email is sent to respond with their shipping information and prize pack choice. If no response is received in that time frame, a new winner will be chosen.

I was not compensated for this post, but I did receive three bags of flour and a baking mix from Hodgson Mill for the purpose of testing the product and developing a recipe to enter in a Hodgson Mill baking contest.  All opinions are my own.