Potato Cinnamon Rolls for two

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Rebecca Rather is my baking idol.  She runs a bakery in the Hill Country of Texas named ‘Rather Sweet.’  Everything Rebecca makes is the best version of itself, entirely from scratch, and completely mouth-watering.  Just for example, instead of the classic Tres Leches cake, she makes Muchas Leches Cake.  I’ve been making the pages of her cookbook, Rather Sweet, sticky for years.

Her recipe for ‘Jailhouse Potato-Cinnamon Rolls’ caught my eye in the breakfast chapter not only because they are perfect pinwheels of deliciousness, but also because the recipe is based on a version of leftover mashed potato rolls served in a nearby prison.  Only Rebecca could take such a recipe and spin it into a crave-worthy beauty.  It’s the first recipe in the book, so you know she’d hang her hat on it.

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The full-size recipe always turns out great; although, two people can (and should) only eat so many cinnamon rolls.  I scaled down Rebecca’s recipe to make just two cinnamon rolls.  When baked in a bread loaf pan, the serving size is just right.

Don’t be afraid of baking with yeast, I’m going to walk you through this one.  This recipe even works in the dead of the winter when your kitchen is a bit chilly.

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The best part is:  you don’t even have to have leftover mashed potatoes.  We’re going to boil a potato from scratch, and use the leftover starchy cooking water in the final dough.

So carb-alicious:

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We’re only dealing with a handful of dough to make these cinnamon rolls (see photo below).  If you find dough to be intimidating, please, start with this small-batch recipe. You’ll work your way up to yeast superstar in no time.  While we have 2 rise times in this recipe, you can use a preheated oven that is turned off for a quick rise.  You’ll have these rolls out of the oven in about 2 hours.  Not bad, right?  If that’s too much to ask for in the morning, I’ve had great luck using Rebecca’s instructions to store the dough in the fridge overnight after the first rise.  I’m convinced this recipe is flawless.

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4.8 from 4 reviews
Potato Cinnamon Rolls for two
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Yield: 2 large cinnamon rolls
:
Serves: 2
Ingredients
  • 5 oz. russet potato, peeled*
  • 1½ teaspoons active, dry yeast
  • 2 tablespoons sugar (plus a pinch for the yeast)
  • 2 tablespoons butter, melted (plus ½ tablespoon extra for bowl)
  • 1½ cups flour
For the filling:
  • 2 tablespoons butter, melted
  • ¼ cup light brown sugar
  • 1½ teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • ½ cup powdered sugar
  • splash of milk
Instructions
  1. See the note about the potato below. Place the raw potato and 1 cup of cold water in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil and cook until the potato is done (it slides off a knife when pierced after 10-15 minutes).
  2. Drain the potatoes, reserving the cooking water in a glass liquid measuring cup. Add enough fresh water to the reserved water to equal ¾ cup TOTAL. (Note: you may not have to add any water at all). Place a thermometer inside the water and wait until it cools down to 108-115-degrees F.
  3. Meanwhile, mash the drained potatoes and set aside in a medium bowl.
  4. Once the water has cooled to the ideal temperature range, add the yeast and a pinch of the sugar. Stir to dissolve, and then let rest until foamy, about 5 minutes. If the yeast does not foam, it's dead. Start over with fresh water and fresh yeast. (If this does happen to you, you could use all plain water for this step--no need to boil extra potatoes).
  5. Next, to the bowl with the cooled mashed potatoes add the sugar and melted butter. Stir very well to combine--no lumps! Then, add the yeast-water mixture. Stir well.
  6. Finally, add the flour, and mix until combined. Grab the sticky dough in one hand, and smear the extra butter up the sides of the bowl. Place the dough back in the bowl, cover with a towel and let rise in a warm place for 45 minutes-1 hour, or until doubled. If your kitchen is cool, turn on the oven to 200-degrees for 5 minutes, turn it off, and place the bowl inside to rise.
  7. After rising is complete, the dough can be punched down and refrigerated overnight to bake in the morning. I've had great results make the dough the night before.
  8. If not refrigerating overnight, flour your hand, then punch down the dough very well after its first rise. Gather the dough into a ball and roughly knead it a few times. Add enough flour to get it going into a ball that you can roll out. For me, this varies between 1-4 tablespoons, depending on the humidity that day.
  9. Next, we'll roll out the dough and fill it: Dust the counter with flour, and dump the dough onto the flour. Flour your hands, then pat out the dough into a 6" square. In a small bowl, combine the melted butter, brown sugar and 1 teaspoon of the cinnamon. Let it sit for a minute or so, then spread it evenly on the dough--almost to the edges.
  10. Gently, roll up the square, starting on the edge of dough closest to you. Roll tightly, and pinch the edge together when you get to the end (see photo for reference). Slice the roll in half, then place in a greased loaf pan.
  11. Let the rolls rise in the loaf pan in a warm place for 30 minutes.
  12. Preheat the oven to 375. Bake the rolls in the oven for 25 minutes. The rolls will be brown, don't be afraid of color.
  13. Take the rolls out of the oven, and combine the remaining ½ teaspoon cinnamon, powdered sugar, and splash of milk. Pour the glaze on the warm rolls, and serve.
Notes
*Most russet potatoes weigh more than 5 ounces, so either grab a tiny organic one, or pull out 5 ounces worth of raw potatoes while making mashed potatoes the night before. Store the raw potato pieces in cold water overnight, and they'll be fine in the morning.

*This recipe was updated to eliminate confusion about how much water to add. The amount of water leftover after boiling the potato varies, so add how ever much needed to equal ¾ cup TOTAL. Also, this dough is very sticky and slightly looser than the average cinnamon roll recipe. This is due to the potatoes. Add flour during kneading and rolling to make it not sticky. For me, it always varies between 1-4 tablespoons. If your dough is thin, do not worry! Keep going, and you'll see that after 2 rises, you'll have very tender rolls. I have added an extra ½ cup of flour to the recipe to help address this issue.

 

 

 


Comments

  1. says

    I’ve used potato in chocolate cake, so at this point, anything goes for me! I’m sure it makes the texture of these so soft and fluffy!

  2. says

    Hi Christina, I’ve been lurking on your site for a couple of years now and thought I should finally leave a comment. My husband is going to love this recipe, and I am going to love the fact there is one bun each. I have a weakness for a god cinnamon bun–which of course is a problem when there is an entire batch in the house for two people.

    I’ve tried scaling down recipes myself but I have to admit, when it comes right down to it, I usually come looking here to see what I can find. Your chocolate chip cookie recipe is one of the best and I trust your math much more than I trust mine. Thank you for all the work you put into this. I appreciate it!

  3. says

    I’ve used potatoes in cinnamon rolls and every time, my kids go nuts, they can’t believe it! I love this scaled down recipe! Most recipes just make too many for even our family of 5! They look beautiful!

  4. says

    What timing! I was just thinking how much I’d like to make homemade cinnamon rolls, but I don’t need a whole pan of them sitting around tempting me. This is the perfect solution :)

    Thanks for sharing!

  5. says

    I’ve been waiting for these! {Happy dance}. Yum, yum, yum! This is really the only way we can keep from eating a boatload of cinnamon rolls. And potato always makes yeast bread yummy. Looking forward to trying this recipe. Hope your week goes well.

  6. says

    Love this.. and that it’s for 2.. which means, just for me :) I’ve made mashed potato biscuits so I can imagine the flavor of these rolls are just incredible..

  7. Linda says

    Yummy….get in my tummy!!!
    hi i just recently found you out there in bloggerville… and I’m so glad I did!! We are empty nesting now (4kiddos out and on there own) so my family recipes are to big and then I have way to many leftovers… I can’t wait to try these! Thanks!!!

  8. Christinem says

    perfect portions! Hubby doesn’t eat sweets so these two would be for me. One for right away and the other for breakfast… lol

  9. Brooke Olenar says

    I have been waiting for this moment forever now.I live for cinnamon rolls but they always make way to many.I know my husband may think 6 cinnamon rolls is simply not enough for two I believe it’s way to many.I will be making these soon.

  10. Ronnie says

    Have worked with yeast doughs before, so was surprised when this did not work. Dough seemed more like a batter than a yeasted dough. Liquid to flour ratio seemed off.are they correct in given recipe?
    Thanks. I think that if you are making something like this, it doesn’t serve any purpose to only bake two, as you can always freeze the rest or give them away if you are concerned about eating too many. Just sayin’………

    • says

      Hi Ronnie!
      I’m sorry this didn’t work for you. I tested my recipe 4 times. Can you give me a more detailed description of your failure? Did you weigh-out 5 ounces of raw russet potato? Yes, 1 cup of flour is correct, but the dough will pick up a bit more flour when it’s being rolled out.
      I understand that I can freeze extra food, but I rather enjoy cooking for two. It keeps the calories in check for me :)
      Christina

      • says

        I also had a similar problem with my “dough” being more like a batter. I added another cup of flour and it’s resting in the fridge for now. It’s still very sticky though. I can’t touch it without half the dough coming off on my hands.

        I was curious also if the potatoes should have been mashed more before adding to the yeast?

        Appreciate your help! And I love the recipes for 2! Nothing tastes as good coming out of the freezer anyway ;)

        • says

          Ok, this is seriously concerning. The only thing I can think of is that I wrote down the wrong amount of water in my notes while recipe testing. I’m going to make these again this afternoon and let you know. I’m so sorry!

        • says

          Ok, Ace, I’m with you. I made these again this morning. The dough is very sticky, but I just add extra flour when I’m rolling. I wish I could write out an exact amount of flour added when rolling, but it all depends on the humidity and the type of flour. Flour is fickle. Today, I added 2 tablespoons, but on batch #4, all I needed was a sprinkle of flour. The moral of the story is: add enough flour until you can roll out the dough (1-4 tablespoons-ish?) This dough will never have the consistency of Pillsbury dough, you know? It’s because of the potatoes. I think their tenderness makes it worth it. Flour your hands, flour the counter, and off you go! :) Also, I assumed bakers would mash the potatoes before incorporating them, but I was wrong. I added that line to the recipe–thanks!
          I’m thinking that if you want a cinnamon roll close to the packaged kind, leave out the potatoes entirely? I’m going to test that recipe in the coming weeks. I can certainly understand people wanting a more firm dough that isn’t as delicate. I’ll nix the potatoes and make a cinnamon roll recipe that tastes more similar to the kind at the store, and share it soon :)

  11. says

    Christina, don’t you know you can just make a full pan of cinnamon rolls and freeze the rest?? :) :) :) I’m JOKING!

    What an awesome story behind these rolls! I can’t believe they really are Jailhouse cinnamon rolls! How fun. Also, “Rather Sweet” is probably the cutest name ever for a bakery, and even more so because that’s her name. Love it.

  12. Dede says

    As soon as I saw this recipe I thought “mmm I wonder how it will taste with sweet potatoes”! Challenge accepted!

    • Mary says

      I made these this morning…delicious.
      I used a tad less of Cinnamon, added grated orange peel and halved the butter. Easy dough to work with. Next time I would make 4 instead of two, because they’re kinda large.

      • Mary says

        And…I wanted to add that your recipe was easy to follow.
        I weighed the cooked potato. I also added a few chopped walnuts.
        This was soooo fluffy, I wondered if could double this recipe to make a loaf of bread?
        (I’m making these cinnamon rolls again this weekend!)

  13. says

    I seriously love the idea of having just enough dough to make two cinnamon rolls. Because, really, that’s all we need in this house. If I had an entire pan sitting around (or, say, a loaded pan in my freezer), I would be power eating cinnamon rolls just because they exist. Love this! Pinned.

  14. says

    Rebecca Rather is one of my favorites as well. LOVE her cookbooks! I’ve somehow missed this one, but I’ll be making them SOON. Gorgeous photos!

  15. Christie says

    I’ve not had luck in the past with yeast and have been intimidated to try again but this simple recipe is giving me courage!

    If I put the dough in the fridge overnight, does it need to come to room temp before moving to the next step? If so, how long of a wait?

    • says

      Hi Christie!
      Thanks for writing. When I refrigerate the dough the night before, I just proceed with the recipe as normal. The only thing is, it will take a little longer for the rolls to rise in the pan before baking. Give them 45 minutes instead of 30 minutes in step #11.
      Best of luck! Happy baking :)
      Christina

  16. Caroline says

    This recipe is amazing! (un)Fortunately, it made wayyy more than two rolls. After the second rise, a total of nine rolls filled a 9X9 pan from bottom to top, nearly overflowing! (I was nervous that they would overflow in the oven, but luckily they didn’t.) A spoon and knife was needed to remove the somewhat-amorfous rolls from the pan after baking, but they were definitely worth it. These rolls are incredibly light and fluffy with a pleasant starchy aftertaste… I ate three almost immediately, so much for self-control! :) I’m not sure what I did differently than you; my dough was very moist, almost batter-like, but I only added flour until it become workable (maybe 1/4-1/3 cup).
    I opened a brand new jar of yeast for this recipe, so perhaps it was just over-eager!
    Either way, certainly a delicious recipe!! (=

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