Perfect, Gooey Cinnamon Rolls Get a Peachy Upgrade

July 26, 2018

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Top of the list of things to know about me: I’m an early bird in the truest sense of the word. Sometimes, I’ve been up for hours before my fiancé pours his morning coffee. As he gets older, even my dog sleeps in later than I do—he groans and stays in bed, then meanders in a few hours later when he’s ready for his walk.

When you’re an early riser like me, you really love breakfast. I love everything about the meal: deciding what to make, the process of making it, and diving in, totally famished, after all that early a.m. thinking. Since I’m normally eating breakfast alone, I keep it pretty simple. But when I get to bake for others in the morning hours—buckle up—I’m going to take it way too seriously and you better believe it’s going to be memorable.

Photo by Bobbi Lin

Growing up, one such breakfast item that my whole family took pretty seriously was cinnamon rolls. I remember my mom or grandma baking them from scratch from time to time—heavy on the filling and smothered in a thick frosting. I also remember fighting with several family members over the gooey center of the particularly giant ones we’d buy and share from the good bakery in town. Naturally, when I learned how to bake, I set about making the cinnamon rolls of my dreams. I made them all the time, and they’re damn good, if I do say so myself.

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But come warmer weather, I abandon my usual simple cinnamon filling in lieu of something more exciting. See, by June, I get a certain kind of restlessness in the kitchen I’m sure most folks can relate to: I have a hard time not using fresh, peak season fruit while I can. I remember the barren winter months where I used my spice cabinet, plenty of canned pumpkin, and citrus galore (winter’s relieving gift to bakers and cooks).

So I can’t help but remix my favorite breakfast buns once more, and my favorite version so far has been these peach butter rolls. I start with a soft, buttery dough—the kind that browns beautifully on the outside, but stays super soft inside. Then I fill it to the brim with plenty of homemade peach butter, scented with a little cinnamon, nutmeg, and vanilla bean, and top the whole thing off with a super simple (but insanely delicious) frosting situation. Basically, it’s the dreamy, peachy breakfast treat of legends.

The Difference is in the details

Like all my favorite breakfast buns, these must follow a few rules to be considered properly excellent in my book:

I like big (breakfast) buns and I cannot lie.

The homemade cinnamon rolls my family made were delicious, but they were so reasonably sized. For me, the giant ones from the bakery held so much more appeal. More importantly, they have a much higher ratio of golden brown exterior to gooey interior—a must for me.

Go heavy on the filling.

They’re not called “rolls with cinnamon filling” after all. I like my breakfast buns of any sort to have plenty of filling. In the case of these bad boys, that means abundant sweet and tangy peach butter inside. To help make the filling a little sturdier, I whisk in a little bit of flour to give the peach butter a little more heft.

Make them work for any season.

Peach butter is one great choice for peach season—but I make these rolls year round. In fall, you can substitute apple butter, pumpkin butter, or make classic cinnamon rolls. In winter, I love to fill them with citrus curd. And in spring, I’ll make a thick rhubarb or strawberry jam as the base for the filling. (Another option: Make some extra peach butter for canning, so you can use it all four seasons. It also freezes well in freezer canning jars.)

You don’t have to use frosting…oh wait, just kidding, yes you do.

I guess you can make the frosting optional, but I may give you the side eye and continue to slather mine in frosting all the same. I love the way the swoopy frosting looks on top, and I love the way it sort of melts into the roll, really upping the gooiness factor.

Serve 'em when they're warm and toasty.

A room temperature breakfast bun is nothing compared to a warm, gooey one from the oven. It’s important to let them cool a little, otherwise the frosting (you’re definitely using frosting, right?) may melt on contact. To help achieve this perfect warm peach butter roll moment, I like to plan ahead. The dough is made to have a slow rise overnight in the refrigerator and the peach butter can be made ahead. So come morning, you’re ready to roll.

If you hit all the details just right, you’ll fall in love with these rolls the way I did. And if you’re really smart, you can just plan to go back to bed after eating them. Hey, you just made an insanely good breakfast—you earned it.

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See what other Food52 readers are saying.

I always have three kinds of hot sauce in my purse. I have a soft spot for making people their favorite dessert, especially if it's wrapped in a pastry crust. My newest cookbook, Savory Baking, came out in Fall of 2022 - is full of recipes to translate a love of baking into recipes for breakfast, dinner, and everything in between!