A Cinnamon Roll Recipe From Two Beloved Italian Restaurant Owners

You’ll remember that in the early days of quarantine, sourdough was all the rage. Rustic loaves and pepperoni-laden pizzas popped up suddenly on endless social feeds; no matter the maker’s prowess in the kitchen, it suddenly felt like anyone could tackle sourdough.

The key to sourdough mastery is the sourdough starter (which, as luck would have it for ambitious home bakers, some bakeries and restaurants started selling directly to customers as a pivot during the pandemic). With the right sourdough starter in hand, the options go beyond bread and pizza — they can even include making this cinnamon roll recipe from Angie Rito and Scott Tacinelli, the owners of Don Angie in New York City.

As part of our Eater at Home series, Rito and Tacinelli demonstrated their recipe for sourdough cinnamon rolls with golden raisins, pine nuts, and Marsala — a fortified wine produced in the region surrounding the city of Marsala in Sicily. Check out the recipe below.

Sourdough Cinnamon Rolls

The cinnamon rolls post-bake

Makes 9 rolls

For the dough:
½ cup of sourdough starter, fed (100% hydration)
½ teaspoon of vanilla bean paste
1½ teaspoons of sugar
2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons of unsalted butter, softened
2 tablespoons of whole milk, at room temperature
1 whole egg plus 1 yolk
1½ cup of bread flour, plus up to a ¼ cup additional
1½ teaspoons of Kosher salt
½ teaspoon of instant yeast, optional for a faster rise

For the filling:
⅓ cup of golden raisins, chopped
3 tablespoons of dry Marsala
5 tablespoons of unsalted butter, softened
1 tablespoon of ground cinnamon
½ cup of brown sugar
1 teaspoon of vanilla bean paste
½ teaspoon of coarse sea salt, such as Maldon
⅓ cup of toasted pine nuts, chopped

For the frosting (optional):
4 ounces of cream cheese
3 tablespoons of unsalted butter, softened
½ teaspoon of Kosher salt
¾ cup of powdered sugar
Zest from one lemon

First, prepare the Marsala-soaked raisins. In a microwave-safe bowl, heat the golden raisins and Marsala in the microwave for 2 minutes. Stir well. Set aside and allow raisins to hydrate.

In the bowl of a stand mixer prepare the dough by beating together sourdough starter, vanilla bean paste, sugar, butter, milk, egg, and egg yolk until combined. Switch to a dough hook. Add in 1½ cup flour, salt, and instant yeast (if using). Knead on medium speed for 7 to 8 minutes until dough pulls away from the bowl in one solid mass. If dough is very wet and sticky, add up to an additional ¼ cup of flour to achieve desired consistency. Move the dough to a greased bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Allow to sit in a warm place until doubled in size, about 6 to 7 hours (3 to 4 hours if using instant yeast). At this point, the dough can be used or chilled overnight to be baked the following day (of chilling, dough just needs to come back to room temperature before using).

Once ready to bake, preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Mix together cinnamon, brown sugar, vanilla bean paste, and sea salt in a bowl until thoroughly combined. Set mixture aside.

On a clean, lightly floured surface, gently press down the dough to form a rectangle about 10 inches by 14 inches in size. Spread the 5 tablespoons of softened butter across the surface of the dough, followed by the cinnamon-sugar mixture, then rub it into the dough with your hands. Sprinkle on the pine nuts and soaked raisins, spreading them out as evenly as possible across the surface.

Carefully roll the dough up into a tight log. Using a sharp knife, cut 9 rolls from the log (about 1½ inches thick). Place the rolls in a casserole dish greased with non-stick cooking spray. Place rolls in the oven and bake for 20 minutes, or until lightly golden brown.

Meanwhile, make the frosting. In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat cream cheese, butter, salt, and lemon zest with the whisk attachment until smooth. Add powdered sugar and beat for another 1 to 2 minutes until well combined. Set aside.

Frost the cinnamon buns as soon as they are removed from the oven. Serve immediately.

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