The Softest Cinnamon-Raisin Rolls

Have you heard of “tangzhong”? If it sounds Japanese to you, it’s because it is! It’s the Japanese method of dough making which results into soft, pillowy bread that remains soft and pillowy for the days to come. Google it if you want to read the science behind this method. All I will tell you is that these are the BEST cinnamon-raisin rolls I made so far.

What you do, is mix some milk with a little flour over medium heat and whisk until you have a thick-ish, paste-like mixture. You then mix that, with the rest of your ingredients and ta-da! You have a very soft, buttery dough which absorbs a lot more liquid than any regular dough, resulting in a much softer bread without it being sticky, tacky and difficult to shape.

This recipe is an adaptation of the Soft Cinnamon Rolls from King Arthur Flour (Thank you!). The cinnamon rolls are not overly sweet, incredibly soft, pillowy, and on repeat! And to think I am not a cinnamon roll fan. Make these, please. 

For the “tangzhong”:

  • 115 g whole milk
  • 25 g unbleached bread flour

For the dough:

  • 150 g whole milk
  • 300 g unbleached bread flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 25 g granulated sugar
  • 11 g instant yeast
  • 60 g unsalted butter (soft) + 50 g melted butter for brushing

For the filling:

  • 60 g raisins
  • 2 Tbs brandy
  • 20 g unsalted butter, melted
  • 80 g soft brown sugar
  • 25 g unbleached bread flour
  • 1 tsp cinnamon (or more)


Have all your ingredients ready. First make the “tangzhong” by placing the milk and flour in a medium pot over medium heat. Whisk to mix and stir constantly until it thickens and becomes like a paste.

To make the dough, transfer paste in a mixer bowl. While paste is warm pour over the milk. Add the flour, salt, sugar, yeast and soft butter. Knead with the dough hook for 15 minutes.

Transfer dough in a buttered bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and let it rise for 90-120 minutes.

Make the filling while dough rises. Soak raisins in brandy for 2 hours. In another bowl, mix melted butter with brown sugar, cinnamon and flour until all ingredients are moistened.

Tip risen dough on a lightly floured surface. Roll into a 30 x 40 cm rectangle. Spread filling on the surface of the dough leaving a 2 cm border on one of the long sides. This will help the rolls stick and stay rolled while baking. Sprinkle with the soaked raisins. Roll dough, starting from the long side. With a sharp knife, cut 8 rolls.

Place rolls in a buttered baking pan. Cover with a tea-towel. Let them rise for 30 minutes. In the meantime, preheat oven to 180 C fan. 

Transfer risen rolls in the oven. Bake for 30 minutes. As soon as they come out of the oven, brush with melted butter. Enjoy (you will!) warm or at room temperature.

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