Maple Cinnamon Rolls for a recipe swap birthday

I’m going to start referring to my recipes as “Engineer-Tested”. It’s true. I usually deliver a substantial amount of baked goods to my husband’s work. Shut in their tiny warehouse office, the engineers, designers, and whoever else is around always seem happy to eat whatever I bring them. I like to think that I’m contributing to the incredible things these super smart people do.


This week the engineers tested a very special recipe for me. I brought over half my celebratory Maple Cinnamon Rolls, baked in honor of the Recipe Swap’s first birthday. This may only be my second month in the swap, but a talented group of bloggers has been putting unique spins on retro recipes for a whole year! I’m so glad Christianna of Burwell General Store had the brilliant idea to start the swap last year and I hope it will keep going for years to come. I just got started!

A birthday deserves a cake, of course, so our starting recipe this month is for Maple Syrup Cake.

“Maple molasses”, aka, maple syrup (I googled it), sugar, butter, spices…why mess with a good thing? Well, I guess that’s not the point. According to the rules of the recipe swap, I had to change something. Believe me, I’ll be making this cake straight up at some point. For this post, I turned the typical birthday dessert (cake) into my family’s typical birthday breakfast (cinnamon rolls).

My mom denies this, but she used to make cinnamon rolls for my brother and I to eat on our birthday mornings. She claims it was only my brother that got cinnamon rolls and maybe she’s right. The point is, I associate cinnamon rolls with birthdays, almost more so than white-iced cakes topped with plastic toys and candles. I love the smell of spice and layers of soft bread swirled with sweet, sticky cinnamon.

My mom made her birthday breakfast cinnamon rolls from the tube, which is perfectly fine with me. Last year, though, I found a cinnamon rolls recipe that I will probably make for the rest of my life. It comes from the Horn of the Moon Cookbook by Ginny Callan, which I found in a thrift store. These rolls were actually my first post in MuffinEgg, making them especially appropriate for this blog-related birthday. The bread is light and fluffy and the filling, made according to the original recipe, is not too sweet. If you’re after that really dark, sweet cinnamon swirl, there is nothing stopping you from putting a few spoonfulls of brown sugar on your dough before rolling it up.

Only three left by the time I took my pictures. They’re that good.

Of course, this time I had maple syrup cake on the brain so my favorite cinnamon rolls got a maple-y twist. There’s maple syrup in the dough and between it’s layers. In fact, maple syrup is the only sweetener in these cinnamon rolls. As an added bonus, I threw in a vanilla bean (not literally. I scraped the seeds out and threw them in). I have a huge package of vanilla beans and keep forgetting to use them. Cinnamon roll dough with vanilla beans…yum. If you have some, try it!

The original instructions suggest doubling the recipe and freezing half the cinnamon rolls before baking. I think this is a brilliant idea. I can’t really imagine a situation where you would want to make only 8 cinnamon rolls and not even put more away for a rainy day. I doubled the recipe for you here, so if you really want a small batch you can halve the ingredients or check out my first cinnamon roll post.

Maple Cinnamon Rolls
Adapted from Horn of the Moon Cookbook by Ginny Callan


1/2 cup milk (I used vanilla soy milk)
1/2 cup mashed peeled sweet potato
4 tablespoons butter
4 tablespoons maple syrup
3 teaspoons yeast
4 tablespoons warm water
2 eggs
1 teaspoon salt
2 cups unbleached white flour
1 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
Optional: seeds scraped from one vanilla bean

My Free-Form Filling

2-4 tablespoons coconut oil
2-4 tablespoons maple syrup
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/4-1/2 cup chopped walnuts

Bring milk to a boil in a small saucepan. When it reaches a boil, turn off heat and add potato, butter, and maple syrup.
Next, combine yeast and warm water in a medium bowl. Stir to dissolve.
Add the potato mixture to the yeast and water.
Beat in egg, salt, and vanilla bean.
Add 1/2 cup unbleached white flour, mixing well. Then add the remaining white and wheat flour.
Knead until smooth and elastic.
Cover and leave someplace warm to rise until doubled in size (this takes about 1 hour).

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
Punch down dough and knead on lightly floured surface. Then let it sit for another 10 minutes.
Roll out to 1/4 inch thickness in an approximately 9×15 in. rectangle-ish shape.
Spread coconut oil over the dough. My coconut oil was soft enough that I could spread it around with my fingers.
Drizzle with maple syrup and spread the syrup around with the back of a spoon
Sprinkle with cinnamon and walnuts.
Roll dough up from the longer side so you have a long roll.
Cut into 1 inch thick slices (or whatever size gives you 16 rolls) and set rolls in a baking dish or two (you can put one in a plastic bag and then in the freezer for later).
Bake 15 minutes or until lightly browned.

I like to top my cinnamon rolls as needed. The engineers got a simple powdered sugar glaze on theirs. I ate some rolls plain and sprinkled others with powdered cinnamon sugar. You could also spread more coconut oil or butter and maple syrup over warm rolls before serving (like pancakes but maybe better).



Filed under other goodies

25 Responses to Maple Cinnamon Rolls for a recipe swap birthday

  1. yum! i really want to make my own cinnamon rolls. these look perfect! your husband’s co-workers are very lucky!

  2. Wonderful swap! I like your rolls, they look so good and delicious yet not sickeningly sweet. And I am sure the sweet potatoes make them super soft!

  3. Rachel! What a wonderful post. I love the thought that went into this. Love the name of the thrift store cookbook and it sounds like you’ll find some treasures in there. I find too my cooking is more like my Grandmother’s than my mother’s. I think those rolls-in-a-tube were pretty hip and ‘forward’ in our Mother’s cooking landscape. Now we are going back to basics which I find comforting. So glad you are part of the swap!

  4. Wow what beautiful pictures Rachel! And the combination of sweet potato, maple syrup and vanilla sounds is perfect for a cinnamon roll. And the filling made with coconut oil and walnuts…yum! I will be trying your recipe next time I need cinnamon rolls!

  5. Awh! My mom used to make cinnamon rolls all of the time! She used pearled sugar as topping for hers. Yours look amazing and I will have to give this recipe a try.

  6. How funny that we both used the sifted in our pictures. I love that you used sweet potato and turned these into cinnamon rolls, SUCH great ideas!!!!

    • I love cinnamon rolls, especially if they are not too sweet! What a great idea to morph the cake into the breakfast food!
      Recipe Swap bloggers are a great bunch, so inspirational and creative:)

  7. Cinnamon rolls… the key to a girl’s heart. Well, this girl’s heart. These look divine! And quite possibly the best birthday breakfast ever.

  8. wowee these look good. keep on coming girlfriend We need you.

  9. I would have doubled these too! So fantastically fluffy. This looks like Christmas morning to me. 🙂

  10. These look amazing – I have actually never had a cinnamon roll but am definately going to now!

  11. Wow, just wow! I love the sweet potato in there. These are on my list to make sometime very very soon. Maybe for Thanksgiving brunch. Nice to have you in the recipe swap.

  12. It’s good to have an engineer in the house! GREG

  13. Ellen

    Like the new banner.

  14. I actually have that cookbook but have never made anything from it! These rolls sound absolutely fabulous!

  15. Maple syrup is my favourite sweetener and cinnamon rolls my favourite baked good so you can imagine how good these look to me! Cinnamon rolls for birthday breakfasts is such an excellent idea, I may have to steal that. 🙂 I love that there’s sweet potato, whole wheat flour and coconut oil in these.

  16. Your photos are stunning, Rachel! I love to make cinnamon rolls during the holidays..they are such a celebratory treat. This looks like such a unique recipe – I’ll definitely have to try it.

  17. I always eat my food before I have the chance to take photos! I love that you only had 3 left. 🙂 I also love that you’re part of our swap. Your recipes are great, your photos are great, and your writing also happens to be great. I love discovering new blogs, and yours is SUCH a welcome addition to the swap. Plus, I love cinnamon rolls so I’m just enamored with this post overall.

    • Rachel

      Thank you so so much for this incredibly flattering and lovely comment! It really means a lot to me to hear such things from bloggers like you!

  18. Priya

    Lovely recipe Rachel. Sorry I took so long to get back, thank you for your lovely words. I’ve always wanted o make cinnamon scrolls and you’ve inspired me to try these out 🙂

  19. Ohhh I am absolutely drooling over these. Cinnamon rolls sound like an awesome birthday tradition to me… Even if it was just your little brother that as lucky enough to get them! Love the new layout, too!

  20. I wouldn’t mind these rolls for my Birthday!! Great take on the Swap recipe! The photographs are drool worthy good!

    P.S: A lot of my baked goods like yours are engineer-tested too as they also go to my husband’s office for him to share with his colleagues.

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