Rose Dinner Rolls, and Cinnamon Roses

IMG_9465Sometimes “yummy” just isn’t enough. Sometimes it’s necessary to go for the WOW factor. A visual delicacy…food porn, if you will.

So I made roses out of a rich dinner roll dough, turning them into dinner rolls and then cinnamon rolls. Both ways were hugely successful. These roses aren’t just appealing to the eyes, they’re also easy to devour politely, one fluffy petal at a time.

Manners were strictly enforced during my formative years. We knew better than to butter an entire slice of bread. Rolls were torn into small pieces, each of which was buttered just before it disappeared in our mouths. If I’d taken a bite out of a whole roll my father’s fist would have come down on the table sharply, making the silverware rattle. I’m grateful for the knowledge now, though the years of screaming babies (and shoveling food in as fast as possible while there was a spare moment) have probably made my manners pretty rusty.

Think about it – does anyone actually bite into a cinnamon roll? Personally, half the enjoyment I get from eating a cinnamon roll is derived from unwrapping it slowly, sticky fingers and all. But with these beauties, pulling the petals off one by one is just as fun, and a lot less messy. IMG_9468 The dough I used isn’t too sweet, so it works well as a dinner roll, but is rich enough to turn into a cinnamon roll. I picture these rose shaped rolls on a buffet line at a luncheon or tea; probably not something you’d serve for a Super Bowl party.

Here is the recipe and lots of how-to photos. They really are simple to shape, just a little more time-consuming than regular rolls. Well worth the effort when you consider the visual impact.

Rose Rolls
Makes 12 rolls.
  • ¼ cup warm water
  • 1 pkg active dry yeast
  • 1¼ cups half & half (whole milk will do in a pinch)
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • ¼ cup softened butter
  • ¾ teaspoon salt
  • 1 egg
  • 4-5 cups flour
  • 2 tablespoons melted butter
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 1 tablespoon cinnamon
  1. In a small bowl, combine the warm water and yeast. Set aside for 5 minutes.
  2. Heat the half & half until hot but not boiling.
  3. In a large bowl (I use a stand mixer) combine the half & half, sugar, ¼ cup butter, and salt.
  4. Add the egg and mix well.
  5. Add the yeast mixture and 3 cups of flour. Beat with a paddle attachment until well combined. Switch to a bread hook and add 1 more cup of flour and knead for 5 minutes. (If you are kneading by hand, keep the work surface well floured, as the dough will be sticky until it picks up some of the flour and the kneading is done. By hand, knead 7-8 minutes.) If the dough isn't coming cleanly away from the side of the bowl after 5 minutes of kneading, add flour a little at a time. You want a soft, elastic dough - not sticky.
  6. Place the dough in a greased bowl and allow it to rise until doubled, at least an hour. Punch dough down.
  7. Roll out dough on floured surface. The dough should be thin - about ¼-inch. Cut into 78 2-inch circles. (I used a small brandy snifter. You may have to get creative - milk jug cap, stainless prep cups, etc.)
  8. Spray a muffin pan with an oil/flour spray like Baker's Joy, or grease well (including the top surface of the pan!)
  9. For dinner rolls, stretch out 60 circles slightly-into a teardrop shape-and place in prepared muffin pan, 5 to a cavity. Let the rounded petals curve over the top of each opening slightly. Press the inside center gently and brush lightly with butter. Slightly stretch out 12 circles and place one in each cup, pressing down firmly in the middle of each and brushing lightly with butter. Cut 6 circles in half and with the straight side facing you, roll each half-circle up to create the bud. Place one in the center of each rose.
  10. For cinnamon rolls, follow the procedure above, but dip rounded side of the large petals in butter and then in cinnamon sugar and place 5 in each cavity. Brush the bottom surface with butter and sprinkle with about ⅛ teaspoon of cinnamon sugar. Place the single circle inside and brush the bottom surface with butter and sprinkle with cinnamon. Then add the bud and brush the top of it, sprinkling lightly with cinnamon.
  11. Cover the pan with a clean dishtowel and allow the rolls to rise until puffy-about an hour.
  12. Heat oven to 375 F.
  13. Bake for approximately 20 minutes, or until a rich golden brown.
  14. Remove to rack and cool a few minutes in the pan - then remove rolls to finish cooling on rack.

IMG_9449.JPG cropped

Cut 2″ circles.


Stretch the dough slightly, making a teardrop shape.

Place five pieces of dough in the prepared pan to form outer petals

For dinner rolls, place five pieces of dough in the prepared pan to form outer petals

The only difference between the dinner rolls and the cinnamon rolls is a sprinkling of cinnamon sugar between each layer.

For cinnamon rolls, dip the petal tops in butter and cinnamon first.

For cinnamon rolls, dip the petal tops in butter and cinnamon first.


Lightly butter the bottom surface, add single circle. Brush with butter and add "bud"

Lightly butter the bottom surface, add single circle. Brush with butter and add “bud”


Adding the "bud" to the cinnamon roses.

Adding the “bud” to the cinnamon roses.


Risen and ready to bake.

Risen and ready to bake.


Baked and smelling goooooood!

Baked and smelling goooooood!

Cinnamon roses with a simple glaze of powdered sugar, milk, and vanilla.

Cinnamon roses with a simple glaze of powdered sugar, milk, and vanilla.

Hopefully I’ll never run out of new recipes to try, but even if I do, there are always old standbys to tinker with. So one of my father’s favorite admonishments: “Don’t play with your food!” is still ignored by me. Pffft…food is meant to be played with. Stop and taste the roses!

6 thoughts on “Rose Dinner Rolls, and Cinnamon Roses

    • One package of dry yeast is approximately 2 1/4 teaspoons. You’ll want to use less if you’re using instant yeast. Try 1 3/4 teaspoons, added when you add the flour. Half and half is half milk, half cream. Most people buy it for adding to coffee. You can use whole milk if you prefer.

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