Sweet, cinnamony, dripping-with-caramel-in-every-crevice rolls are one of my favorite breakfast indulgences.
As a kid, I became confused whenever I saw a caramel roll from a restaurant or bakery. Um, where’s the caramel?! Almost every time I ordered one, I received a dry brown roll with just a smear of caramel on top.
To me, any roll without sufficient caramel is just that:
I generally don’t order a dinner roll for breakfast. Call me crazy. Dinner rolls are great for dinner (especially if they’re slathered in honey butter Texas Roadhouse-style!), but for breakfast? I want a caramel roll, heavy on the caramel. Preferably one that doesn’t require a magnifying glass to find it.
The reason restaurant “caramel” rolls confused me as a child is because my mom and grandma were both known for their killer caramel rolls. I was used to the ultimate in caramel rolls–a recipe for homemade bread dough that had been passed down through the generations, sweet cinnamon filling, and, of course, a generous amount of caramel so thick that it ran off the sides of each roll.
That, my friends, is what a true caramel roll should be, in my humble opinion. :)
The only problem with said caramel roll is that it takes a lot of work. Is it worth it? Totally. But even so, sometimes there just isn’t time. Plus, homemade dough can be finicky. Nothing is more frustrating than spending hours on a batch of homemade dough, only for it to end in failure.
So I make cheater caramel rolls.
They’re not quite as amazing as completely homemade caramel rolls, but they’re pretty darn close. Truthfully, I make these more often than the real thing, because they’re so much easier and more foolproof, with practically the same results.
What’s the secret?
(P.S. I apologize in advance for the nighttime photos you are about to view. I recommend making the rolls the night before you plan to enjoy them, as I did here!)
I’m generally not the biggest fan of stuff like this. Boxed cake mix, canned frosting, frozen dinners…not my thing. But this frozen dough is a lifesaver, a time-saver, and the key to the cheater caramel roll.
Instead of slaving away in the kitchen over homemade dough that might not even turn out, I save the slaving for the caramel sauce and use the frozen dough as a shortcut. And the caramel really doesn’t take much slaving away, either.
You still have to plan ahead a bit for these rolls, but the frozen dough saves so much time! I always keep a package in the freezer, and I take it out to defrost in the sink a day before I want my rolls. That night, when the dough is thawed, I whip up a batch of caramel sauce over the stove:
I then roll out the dough, smear each third with a little butter to hold the cinnamon in place…
And sprinkle everything generously with cinnamon-sugar:
Next, I roll the sugary, cinnamony dough up tightly and slice into rolls.
I pour the prepared caramel sauce into three 9×13 baking dishes and place the sliced rolls on top.
You should get about 36 rolls total, but if you don’t, it’s not the end of the world. You can use fewer baking dishes if you don’t feel you have enough rolls to fill three of them.
Finally, I cover the pans with waxed paper and leave them on the counter overnight.
Simple as that!
The next morning, they’ll hopefully look like this:
If your rolls don’t get that big, no worries! They’ll still taste great, but if the dough has been in the freezer for months or who-knows-how-long, it is less likely to expand as much. The best way to ensure big rolls is to use relatively fresh dough and make sure it is no longer frozen when you begin rolling it out.
When you’re ready to eat, preheat the oven, pop your pans in for about 25 minutes, and enjoy your (semi-) homemade, heavy-on-the-caramel rolls!
Someday I’ll post the full homemade version for those of you who are overachievers, but for now, here’s my much-used, much-loved recipe for Cheater Caramel Rolls. These are a family favorite for Christmas morning, the first day of school, brunch, or any old day that needs a special start to the morning. For me, it was the last one this time. :) Warm up with one of these beauties this week if you need something to look forward to before work or school!
- 1 3-lb. package frozen sweet dough (such as Rhodes), thawed
- 3 cups brown sugar
- 1 1/2 cups PLUS 3 Tbsp. butter, divided
- 6 Tbsp. corn syrup
- 2 Tbsp. cinnamon
- 2 Tbsp. sugar
- Prepare three 9x13-inch baking pans.
- To make the caramel sauce: Combine brown sugar, 1 1/2 cups butter, and corn syrup in a medium saucepan over medium-low heat. Stir constantly until melted.
- Boil 3 minutes and remove from heat. Divide among three prepared baking pans, pouring evenly to coat the bottom of each one.
- Divide thawed dough into thirds. (Rhodes brand is packaged in thirds already.) Lightly sprinkle flour onto a flat workspace.
- For each section of dough, roll onto flour-covered workspace using a rolling pin, forming into a rectangle that is about 1/2-inch thick.
- Using a brush or spatula, cover evenly with reserved butter, about a tablespoon on each third of dough.
- Combine cinnamon and sugar. Sprinkle a third over butter on each third of rolled dough.
- Tightly roll each section of dough into a long log. With a knife, slice each log into 12 rolls. Place 12 rolls in each baking dish on top of prepared caramel.
- Cover pans with waxed paper and let sit overnight.
- The next morning, preheat oven to 350 degrees. Remove waxed paper.
- Bake rolls in preheated oven for 25 minutes or until lightly browned.
- Using oven mitts, tightly hold each baking dish against a large platter and flip rolls upside-down onto platters to serve. Use a spatula to scrape any remaining caramel onto rolls and serve warm.
Be sure to plan ahead and thaw dough ahead of time! Then, prepare caramel sauce and rolls the night before you want to serve them. The next morning, you'll have fresh caramel rolls, straight from the oven in 30 minutes!
Total Fat: 9.7 g
Cholesterol: 23.2 mg
Sodium: 250.5 mg
Total Carbs: 45.9 g
Dietary Fiber: .6 g
Protein: 2.3 g