Before Coronavirus stopped me from leaving my house, I visited this adorable diner/cafe in Cocoa Village, Florida called Wanderlust Cafe. They had a small breakfast menu that features a few different recipes featuring bisctuis, and one was their homemade cinnamon roll with buttercream icing. Long story short, the four of us loved the flaky warm biscuit cinnamon roll so much we tried to get the recipe from the waiter, who said he’d been working at the restaurant for years and has never been able to get the recipe from the chef.
When that didn’t work, I tried using my feminine wiles on the chef himself, but it was not lost on him that the recipe wouldn’t remain a secret for long. He did not supply the secret ingredients, but I’m going to make it my mission to get pretty damn close to copying his sweet treat. It’ll be a long time before I visit Cocoa Village, so recreating the recipe from my small apartment kitchen in Pittsburgh is the best I can do for me and everyone who’s inclined to go on this dough-y delicious journey with me.
My first recent attempt is revising a Biscuit Cinnamon Roll recipe from Mel’s Kitchen Cafe. I’ve actually never baked a cinnamon roll in my life so I couldn’t start from scratch. I tweaked a few ingredients and came out with a pretty close rendition of the Wanderlust Biscuit Cinnamon Roll. I think because I decided to make the recipe “healthy” and easier on my gut by using spelt flour, it didn’t come out as light and flaky as regular all-purpose flour would have. That said, it still melts in your mouth even if you choose to use spelt flour!
Hot Tip: When the recipe calls for super cold butter, listen. Put the butter in the freezer for a few to make sure it stays chilled. That’s the key to a flaky bun!
What You’ll Need for the Biscuits:
- 4 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (I used Spelt Flour from Arrowhead Mills)
- 1/3 cup granulated sugar
- 1 tbls cinnamon
- 3/4 tsp baking soda
- 2 1/2 tbls baking powder
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 13 tbls chilled butter (add it to the freezer before using)
- 2 cups buttermilk (plus a few tablespoons more, if needed)
What You’ll Need for the Filling:
- 4 tbls butter, melted
- 1/2 cup light brown sugar
- 1/2 to 1 tbls cinnamon (depending on how cinnamon-y you like them)
What You’ll Need for the Icing:
- 1 cup powdered sugar
- 2 tbls butter, melted
- 4 tbls heavy cream
- 1 to 2 tbls buttercream
- 1 tsp of vanilla extract
- 1 tsp of cinnamon
- Prep your filling ingredients. Melt the butter and set the bowl aside for later. Also, mix the cinnamon and brown sugar and set that aside for later.
- Onto the biscuits! Mix your dry ingredients. Combine the flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, salt and cinnamon in a bowl, or in a large bowl. Cut the butter into the flour mixture until the mixture is like coarse meal and the butter is in small, pellet-sized pieces. (I actually used a blender and pulsed a few times to mix all of the ingredients and cut the butter.)
- Pour in the buttermilk and mix/pulse. Be careful not to overmix, just let the dough come together enough to hold. Mel’s tips say that if there are lots of dry patches throughout the dough, add a bit more buttermilk, just a tablespoon or two at a time until the dough comes together but it’s ok to have dry bits here and there.
- Time to fold the dough! Scrape the dough out of the food processor or bowl onto a lightly floured counter. This step is similar to making croissants… Do not pick up your rolling pin yet unless you want to ruin this recipe! (Folding with the cold butter creates flaky layers.) Flour your hands and gently pat the dough to about 1/2-inch thick. Fold the dough in thirds (see visual below), repeating three times and pressing gently to 1-inch thick after each fold
- Quickly roll the dough. With a lightly floured rolling pin, roll the dough into a 1/4-inch rectangle. Roll quickly – the more the dough is worked with and processed, the less flaky and tender the rolls will be.
- Butter it up and bring on the cinnamon-sugar. Spread the melted butter over the top of the dough. Then, spread the sugar-cinnamon mix evenly over the butter.
- Start rolling up the cinnamon rolls, beginning with one long edge, rolling tightly without pulling and stretching the dough.
- Reposition the long roll until it is seam side down. (This will help the roll to not fall apart once you start cutting.)
- Pre-heat your oven to 400 degrees F. If you plan to bake the cinnamon rolls immediately, you’ll want to pre-heat the oven now. (It’s best to not let the room get too warm while you’re working through the first 8 steps so that the butter stays cool.)
- Cut the rolls and place on the baking sheet(s). Mel suggests to use a serrated knife, dental floss, or a bench knife/scraper to cut into 1- or 1 1/2-inch rolls. (I used a butcher’s knife which wasn’t the best but it worked without smashing the rolls too much.) The key to keeping the roll together is to tuck the loose end of each roll underneath then place the rolls an inch or so apart on the prepared baking sheet(s).
- If you’re not ready to bake these bad buns yet, you can refrigerate them for up to 2 days or freeze them for longer.
- To bake immediately, bake for 12-15 minutes. If baking straight from the refrigerator, add a couple minutes to the baking time.
- For the icing, whisk together the powdered sugar, melted butter, heavy cream and vanilla until smooth and creamy.
- Let the rolls cool for 10 minutes or so before drizzling with the icing.
- Enjoy the buns while they’re warm or save these in the fridge for a few more days!
Once you’ve flattened and folded the dough three times, then you’ll roll the dough into a rectangle. Now it’s onto the buttering.
Butter the flattened dough.
Add the cinnamon-sugar mix and spread it evenly.
Tightly roll the cinnamon roll.
After the dough is rolled, flip the seam so that it’s on the bottom of the roll. Cut the roll into several slices, and get ready to put them into the oven or freeze/refrigerate them depending on your plans.
Hot tip: I sprinkled more cinnamon and brown sugar onto the dough before baking the rolls.
Pull apart the cinnamon rolls and enjoy!