Malto Mario


The Lady & Sons

1,000 Italian Recipes

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Reinhart vs. Cinnabon™ - The Smack Down!

After our Daring Baker September challenge of cinnamon rolls and sticky buns, hosted by the most lovely Marce of Pip in the City.. a few of us gals started talking about what kind of differences the hugely popular commercial Cinnabon™ cinnamon rolls had vs. the outstanding cinnamon rolls we made from Peter Reinhart's The Bread Baker's Apprentice.

Reinhart's on left / Cinnabon™ knock-off on right

It was mostly unanimous that the Cinnabon™ rolls were a bit more ooey-gooey and the icing was about 10,000 times better as they use cream cheese in their icing. Well the next thing you know, some dork suggested we make the Cinnabons™ so we could compare.

And so we - and by we, I mean moi, Marce, Helene, Sara, Kelly, Laura Rebecca, Chris and Mary got baking last Sunday. Now you'd think that since we've all made cinnamon rolls in the past, that this baking session would go smoothly.. but uhh.. not so much.

Cinnabon cinnamon buns

Well everyone's buns baking went smoothly, I don't think anyone had a problem, the dough was delightful and the icing was as easy to whip up as the icing in Reinhart's tome. But the actual act of getting together on Yahoo Instant Messenger to lend support and chit chat through most of the process didn't go quite as well..

Firstly there's the part where we forgot to tell everyone to meet on Yahoo.. *sigh* So some bakers weren't there to witness the HELL we went through trying to get Kelly online with us. GAWD. You know? As far as I know, Kelly might still be baking these damn rolls today. We spent most of the day (during rise times) trying to get her Mac to behave and join us in a conference on Yahoo. It never happened. By the time we were all enjoying warm ooey gooey Cinnabon™ knock-off's, Kelly was still at her Mac installing and uninstalling various versions of Yahoo IM. Also? She was trying to make U-Stream work - as she wanted to allow us to see her bake the rolls..

Cinnabon cinnamon buns

She did, finally, succeed in that - and a few of the gals got to watch her in her kitchen making cinnamon rolls. I was not a part of that. *sob* I heard it was very funny though.. and I can just imagine Ms. Sexy Thang getting her groove one amidst puffs of flour and schmears of cream cheese. ;)

No.. the Queen of Dorkdum, could not participate in the fun video-blogging. For she remembered how she had forgot to make her pretzels for her anniversary post the following day. Are we seeing a theme here? Forgetting to let everyone know about Yahoo and then forgetting one of my most important posts of the year needed to not only be written up but actually BAKED? Ugh. So I rushed off to throw together more yeast and flour while the other gals watched Kel.

Reinhart on top / Cinnabon™ on bottom

Okay.. so what was the verdict of our Cinnabons™ vs. Reinhart's rolls? We all agreed that although Reinhart's rolls were completely delish, the Cinnabons™ ended up being a lil more gooey-er in the middle and the Cinnabon™ icing, totally blew the Reinhart icing out of the water, so to speak.

Which would I make again? Most likely the Cinnabon™ variety. I really liked how the filling was butter/brown sugar/cinnamon and yeah, that icing was good enough to eat with a spoon. I even added cardamom and orange zest to my icing so it was that much more heavenly. Still though, I can say - that these did not turn out exactly like a real Cinnabon™.. the recipe was a knock off that I paid a whole .79¢ for.. so I knew it wouldn't be 100% authentic, but they were close. I have yet to master the art of making those huge tiered cinnamon rolls though.. mine usually end up more disc like. I get a good rise in my dough, but when I roll them and slice them, the middle doesn't rise above the rest as much as Cinnabon's™ rolls do. There must be a trick there that I am unaware of?

Cinnabon cinnamon buns

Anyhoo.. it was a blast chatting with the gals all day as well as calling my sweet Kel on the phone to hear the desperation in her voice while she was trying to make fakkin Yahoo work. hahahahaaaaa! If we've learned anything from this experience.. it's A- butter will make ANYTHING better and B- next time find a chat platform that works with a Mac first. ;)

If you'd like to do your own comparison, you can find Reinhart's recipe on Marce's site here and the Cinnabon™ knock-off recipe below. Note my horror at the thought of using margarine. But that's what the original recipe calls for and I'm sure there is a reason as I know butter and margarine don't cook/bake the same, but I just couldn't go there.

Cinnabon™ Knock-off Cinnamon Rolls


1 pkg. active dry yeast (1/4 oz. size or 2 1/4 tsp.)
1 c. warm milk (105º to 110º F.)
1/2 c. granulated sugar
1/3 c. margarine, melted (ewww - I’m using butter!) :P
1 tsp. salt
2 eggs
4 c. all-purpose flour


1 c. packed brown sugar
2 1/2 TBS. cinnamon
1/3 c. margarine, softened (ewww – see above!) :P


1/4 c. (1/2 stick) margarine, softened (again ewwwww) :P
1/4 c. (2 oz.) cream cheese, softened
1 1/2 c. powdered sugar
1 TBS. whole milk (I ended up using about 4 TBS. to get consistency that I wanted.)
1/4 tsp. vanilla
1/8 tsp. lemon extract


  1. For the rolls, dissolve the yeast in the warm milk in a large bowl
  2. Mix together the sugar, BUTTER, salt & eggs. Add flour and mix well
  3. Knead the dough into a large ball, using your hands lightly dusted with flour. Put in a bowl, cover, and let rise in a warm place about an hour or until the dough has doubled in size.

Cinnabon cinnamon buns Cinnabon cinnamon buns

  1. Roll the dough out on a lightly floured surface. Roll the dough flat until it is approximately 21 inches long and 16 inches wide. It should be about ¼ inch thick.
  2. Preheat oven to 400º F.
  3. For the filling, combine the brown sugar and cinnamon in a bowl. Spread the softened BUTTER evenly over the surface of the dough, and then sprinkle the cinnamon-sugar evenly over the surface.

Cinnabon cinnamon buns Cinnabon cinnamon buns

  1. Working carefully from the top (a 21 inch side), roll the dough down to the bottom edge.
  2. Cut the rolled dough into 1 ¾ inch slices and place 6 at a time, evenly spaced, in a lightly greased baking pan. Let the rolls rise again until doubled in size (about 30 min.). Bake for 10 minutes, or until golden on top.

Cinnabon cinnamon buns

  1. While the rolls bake, make the icing by mixing the BUTTER and cream cheese in a large bowl with an electric mixer on high speed. Add the powdered sugar and mix on low speed until the sugar is incorporated, then add the milk and flavorings. Mix on high speed again until the icing is smooth and fluffy.
  2. When the rolls come out of the oven, let them cool for about 10 minutes, then coat generously with the icing.

Cinnabon cinnamon buns

Freezing: These rolls can be frozen after baking. Just pop one into the microwave for 20 to 30 seconds to reheat. So says the recipe.. I’d still freeze after the first rise and cutting/shaping.


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Comments on "Reinhart vs. Cinnabon™ - The Smack Down!"


Blogger Laura Rebecca said ... (11/24/2007 11:10 AM) : 

"Smack-down" --- hee! I had so much fun baking with you!


Blogger kellypea said ... (11/24/2007 12:49 PM) : 

Bwahahahaha! My post still isn't done. *sobs into closed fist or something like that* But this was absolutely so much fun! Even with the Yahoo! crap. Do you know, Lis, at this point, there is absolutely no such way to download any kind of email program for them anywhere except the web version. Unbelievable. There are some cool features on the newer versions though... ;D

I did get my rolls baked, showed them on "TV" and they were luscious. The icing was so much better, and the next day, the centers were gooey just like cinnabons. YUM. Thanks so much for trawling the internet (snort!) for the recipe. And I WILL get my post up.


Blogger Helene said ... (11/24/2007 1:06 PM) : 

The whole experience was fun and special. Smack down indeed...the best sugar high of my life too!!
Thanks for getting the recipe!


Blogger Lydia (The Perfect Pantry) said ... (11/24/2007 2:56 PM) : 

Honestly, it is torture to read this post and look at those photos -- my mouth is watering, and not a cinnamon bun or cinnabon in sight! What fun, to cook "together". I'll have to try this with some of my non-baking friends!


Blogger Caribbean Dreamer said ... (11/24/2007 3:12 PM) : 

Lis - your rolls look a hell of a lot better than my stupid rolls that I blogged about last. Once I get over the pain of my fiasco, I'll give these a try! Yummy!


Blogger Peabody said ... (11/24/2007 4:07 PM) : 

Yeah, I figured that the icing would kick the other icing's butt. I made cream cheese frositng for most of the Reinhart buns. I still plan on try out the cinnabon recipe you sent though.
Sounds like you guys had a good time.


Blogger Valentina said ... (11/24/2007 4:18 PM) : 

Oh, you guys are so amazing!! truly inspiring. miss you gals.


Blogger Jenny said ... (11/24/2007 6:02 PM) : 

Yum, yum, yum!
I am copying this one out and trying these!


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (11/24/2007 11:02 PM) : 

Your pictures are killing me! I already had way too many of those last weekend, my hips are screaming, please have some mercy, woman!
But we definitely need to do some sort of mid-month easy recipe again, it was a blast.


Blogger Rachel Medanic said ... (11/25/2007 1:19 AM) : 

I agree with Lydia- there is something truly pornographic about your photos- but I mean that in the kindest of ways. Kudos for a lovely contribution to the world of sugar porn!


Blogger Karen Baking Soda said ... (11/25/2007 4:19 AM) : 

Gosh do we know about that! Ilva and I are on Yahoo and Tanna's mac chokes on we're on G-chat as well.. screens popping up and sounds emanating, cyberbake!

The centers rising might be helped along by rolling the log tighter I think. Not much room to expand so they will go up up up. Will try this recipe as well, kids love cinnamon rolls!


Blogger breadchick said ... (11/25/2007 8:57 AM) : 

I'll do another "smack down" with you any time sweetie! I had so much fun baking with you gals and wish I hadn't double booked myself :-( Needless to say I think your buns looks great and don't worry about the middle not is the goo in the middle that counts;-)

Thanks so much for getting this little group together. Hugs


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (11/25/2007 9:43 AM) : 

Cinnabons are my guilty pleasure, especially when it's available at an airport stop or at a food stop during a trip. So sorry couldn't join you gals, I was finishing some paperwork - as you might have noticed my blog has been neglected lately...hopefully december will be back to normal.
Your buns look so delicious!


Blogger Sara said ... (11/25/2007 12:10 PM) : 

Yours look just like store bought.
Hope you are not too disappointed in me for using margarine :P


Blogger MyKitchenInHalfCups said ... (11/25/2007 4:10 PM) : 

Sounds like a wahoo time was had by all.
I didn't like the icing on the cinnamon rolls (the sticky buns were fab) and I always use brown sugar in the middle. Have to try for the rise in the middle thing, I've not had that work either.
Yep, the mac will do g-mail. I'm not sure but I think the newer intel macs also might do all the platforms (yahoo included) but then I don't have one of those :( dream for Christmas or January . . .


Blogger Annemarie said ... (11/25/2007 6:07 PM) : 

Nice head-to-head battle. I do love the gooey-ness of the cinnabon variety and as good as the Reinhart buns were I did want more goo. Margerin though - ugh, talking about making sacrifices for the good of the whole!


Blogger Brilynn said ... (11/25/2007 8:32 PM) : 

Cream cheese icing makes everything better, remember the red velvet cake? Case in point.


Blogger Chris said ... (11/25/2007 9:11 PM) : 

Oh comment went into the blogger abyss!

Your buns sho' do look tasty! I am so, so bummer I wasn't virtual with time my friend! Thanks the getting the recipe for us.


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (11/25/2007 10:44 PM) : 

Oh my sweet heavens, Lis! Those look amazing and they actually do look like the Cinnabon ones. I bow to you ladies and your baking efforts!


Blogger Marie Rayner said ... (11/26/2007 2:46 AM) : 

Oh gosh, those look so wonderfully deliciously scrumptious! Amazingly good read, and not just for the food porn either.


Blogger Julie said ... (11/28/2007 11:23 AM) : 

Funny...I hate to admit it, but I've never had anything that tastes better than cinnabon. Your orange-cardamom icing sounds wicked good!!


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (12/25/2007 6:25 PM) : 

I've seen no comments about the type of cinnamon used.....Isn't that important to the quality?


Blogger Tracy said ... (12/28/2007 2:04 PM) : 

Those both look amazing!

My son got a recipe that he wanted to make off of the Internet the other day. He gave his dad the list of ingredients and I didn't check it closely enough. Dad came home with margarine! Ewwww. I guess since it costs less than a buck, I could just throw it out, but it seems so wasteful...


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (1/12/2008 3:01 PM) : 

i don't know how much i like it! the icing is wonderful!


Blogger Unknown said ... (3/30/2008 10:07 PM) : 

OMG!!! Delicious! The icing was superb - I usually hate icing in all of it's guises.

I wonder how you folks get the rolls to rise in the middle all pretty though. Mine were pretty level throughout.


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