Gingerbread Sweet Rolls

December  7, 2020
5 Ratings
Photo by Carolina Gelen
  • Prep time 3 hours
  • Cook time 25 minutes
  • makes 13
Author Notes

Gingerbread meets cinnamon buns: That was the premise for this recipe. I wanted to incorporate the classic gingerbread flavors in a soft, gooey, and delicate bun. Here, we are working with an enriched dough as our base; a buttery spiced filling full of cardamom, ginger, cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg; and last but not least, subtle hits of orange in the dough and in the icing that will take this bun to the next level.

Just like any other homemade pastry, these will be best served fresh. You can let the dough rest in the fridge overnight for the first proof, and shape and bake the buns the next day. There is nothing like a steaming-hot bun fresh out of the oven paired with a warm cup of coffee or tea, is there?! Top this scenery off with a beautiful snowfall and you’ve got yourself the perfect winter morning. —Carolina Gelen

What You'll Need
  • For the dough
  • 2/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon lukewarm whole milk
  • 2 1/4 teaspoons active or instant dry yeast
  • 5 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted, plus more for greasing
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 whole egg plus 1 yolk
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine salt
  • 3 to 3 1/3 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
  • For the filling and icing
  • 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon ground cardamom, or 6 whole pods, freshly ground
  • 1 teaspoon orange zest
  • 1/2 teaspoon grated nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves, or 4 to 6 whole cloves, freshly ground
  • 2/3 cup brown sugar
  • 9 tablespoons room temperature butter
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup powdered sugar (for icing)
  • 2 tablespoons orange juice (for icing)
  1. Prepare the dough: Combine the lukewarm milk and yeast in a bowl, then let the yeast bloom for 2 to 3 minutes until foamy. Add in the sugar, whole egg, yolk, vanilla extract, and melted butter and whisk everything together until combined. Add 3 cups of flour and the salt to the liquid mixture and roughly mix everything with a wooden spoon.
  2. Dump the dough onto your work surface and start kneading. The dough should feel slightly sticky in the beginning, but it will become less sticky the more you knead it. If necessary, add the remaining 1/3 cup of flour and keep kneading until the dough looks completely smooth, for about 5-10 minutes. Form the dough into a ball, place it in a greased bowl, cover it and let it proof in a warm place for 1 1/2 to 2 hours, or until doubled in size.
  3. Prepare the filing: Combine all the ingredients for the filling in a bowl and mix them with a spatula until everything is completely incorporated. I suggest using freshly ground spices for a better flavor.
  4. Once the dough is done proofing, lightly dust your work surface with some more flour and roll out the dough into a 39 cm x 43 cm or 15 inch x 16 inch rectangle; it should be about 1/3-1/4 inch or 5 to 6 mm thick. Evenly spread the spiced sugar mixture all over the dough using a spatula. Start rolling the dough tightly from the longer side closest to you.
  5. Next, divide the roll of dough in 12-13 pieces, using a sharp knife or a long piece of thread or dental floss. The second method will give you the best result in my opinion. Simply slide the thread or floss under the dough, then cross the two ends over the top of the dough and pull them in opposite direction wherever you want to make that cut.
  6. Arrange the buns in a buttered round 9 inch (25 cm) diameter pan and let them proof in a warm spot, covered, for 30 minutes.
  7. In the meantime, preheat the oven to 375°F or 190°C.
  8. Bake the buns for 20 to 25 minutes or until golden brown on top, then take them out and let them cool for a few minutes.
  9. Combine the powdered sugar and orange juice and mix everything until combined. Drizzle the icing all over the buns and serve them right away. They are best served fresh!

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • charlotte
  • Shan Diego
    Shan Diego
  • Jennifer Belle
    Jennifer Belle
  • Carolina Gelen
    Carolina Gelen
  • Michelle Adele Kenyon
    Michelle Adele Kenyon
Carolina is a resident at Food52. She's also one of the hosts of Choose Your Own Recipe Adventure, our YouTube show where our Food52 readers pick the ingredients and techniques for a brand new recipe. Carolina recently immigrated to the U.S. from Transylvania, a place she spent most of her life. She continues to get inspired by the classic Romanian and Hungarian foods she was raised on, creating approachable, colorful, and fun recipes. For more cooking ideas and candid moments, check out her Instagram @carolinagelen.

12 Reviews

charlotte December 13, 2020
I made this yesterday. The flavor is great, seasonal. It was satisfying to make. My rolls did not have a lot of room to expand in the pan, they grew upwards & were denser than I expected. Curious how they would turn out if given a bit more room in a muffin tin.
Shan D. December 12, 2020
I was a Carolina Gelen-believer after I followed her babka recipe and ended up with a perfect loaf, and this recipe is just as good. The rolls are pillowy, the flavors are so comforting, and they baked up just as expected. Absolutely delicious.
Carolina G. December 17, 2020
That's so kind of you to say Shan, I'm so happy you gave this recipe a go!
Katiecooks1205 December 12, 2020

Can you make the dough the night ahead of time? If so, can you just let it proof for an extended amount of time, make the filling ahead of time, and then combine and make the next morning?
Carolina G. December 17, 2020
You can definitely make the dough a night ahead and proof it in the fridge overnight. For the filling, you could make it even 3-5 days ahead if you feel like it!
Michelle A. April 5, 2021
What about soing everything except baking them, have them sit in the pan overnight in the fridge and bake them the next morning?
ShannonLC December 8, 2020
Hey Friends - I just finished making the dough for this recipe and I believe the flour is off by 1 cup. The first batch I made I dumped in the 3 2/3 c flour called for and the dough was extremely dry. So dry it wouldn't even hold together when kneading. I made a second batch and added just 3 cups and it was perfect. I can't imagine needing 4 cups for this recipe.
Carolina G. December 9, 2020
Hi Shannon, I apologize for the inconvenience! My instructions were not clear enough when adding the flour, you were actually supposed to add only 3 to 3 1/3 cups flour to the dough, the rest of it was for having on hand to dust on the work surface in a couple of other steps, while kneading and while rolling out the dough. I just fixed that mistake in the recipe, thank you!
Jennifer B. December 8, 2020
About how long would you suggest kneading in Step #2? Obviously, it depends. BUT, would you say 5-10 minutes?
Carolina G. December 9, 2020
5-10 minutes should definitely be enough!
Alyson C. December 8, 2020
These sound wonderful! What are your thoughts about making the rolls and freezing the dough in a log? What tips would you suggest to do that successfully?
Carolina G. December 9, 2020
I think freezing the log and cutting it afterwards might be tricky. I would do the first proof, add the filling, form the log, slice the buns and freeze those. Then whenever you want to bake them, thaw them in the baking pan at room temperature or overnight in the fridge, then pop them in the oven.