Cinnamon roll cake- a giant homemade cinnamon roll in cake form, with all the classic cinnamon roll flavors. It features soft, fluffy dough, a cinnamon sugar swirl, and cream cheese icing on top.
Unlike typical cinnamon roll cakes that are layered or sheet cakes (just boring cinnamon cakes in my opinion), this recipe creates one giant cinnamon roll that's perfect for slicing into cake portions.
This cinnamon roll cake is adapted from my coffee roll recipe, minus the coffee, and combines all the flavors you know and love like cinnamon sugar and cream cheese. It's perfect for various occasions, from a sweet breakfast treat to a holiday dessert, birthday cake, wedding cake, and beyond!
Why We Love Cinnamon Roll Cake
- A fun twist on traditional cinnamon rolls!
- Rich with a buttery cinnamon swirl and a sweet glaze on top.
- Tangzhong (Asian-technique milk-bread dough)- it's my favorite secret ingredient. This simple addition keeps the rolls super soft and gooey for days. I use it in my apple cinnamon rolls, too!
- Perfect for serving a crowd- it's a fun breakfast or brunch treat to share. If you are in a hurry, try my cinnamon roll muffins instead!
Ingredient Notes and Substitutions
Yeast: Instant yeast is essential for leavening the dough and creating a fluffy texture and flavor. Substitute with active dry yeast following the packet instructions.
Milk: Whole milk is a key liquid component in cinnamon roll dough. The fat in whole milk contributes to a dough that is rich and tender, resulting in soft and moist cinnamon rolls. This is the secret to my peach cobbler rolls, too!
Brown sugar: The main sweetener for the filling. It adds a caramel-like sweetness to the cinnamon rolls that enhances the cinnamon flavor. Use dark brown sugar for a more intense flavor.
Find the full ingredient measurements and instructions in the recipe card below!
While this recipe is for a more classic cinnamon roll cake, here are some fun flavor ideas to try: (PS: you can make any of my cinnamon roll flavors into a giant cake!!)
- Add cocoa powder to the icing for chocolate frosting and chocolate milk to the cinnamon roll dough.
- Blueberry rolls with fresh blueberry jam filling.
- Drizzle salted caramel over the top of the rolls instead of icing.
- Strawberry rolls with strawberry filling.
- Oreo rolls with black cocoa and Oreo cookie filling.
Step 1: Make the tangzhong. Cook the whisked flour and water over medium-low heat until it has a mashed potato consistency (Image 1 below). Set aside.
Step 2: Mix the wet ingredients and dry ingredients. In a stand mixing bowl with the dough hook attachment, combine the flour, sugar, yeast, salt, milk, egg, vanilla extract, and tangzhong until a rough dough ball forms (Image 2 below).
Step 3: Knead the dough. With the mixer on low speed, knead in the softened butter one tablespoon at a time until completely combined. Continue kneading until a smooth dough ball forms (Image 3 below).
Step 4: Shape into a ball. Form the kneaded dough into a smooth round ball and place it in a lightly greased bowl (Image 4 above).
Step 5: First rise. Cover the top with plastic wrap and set in a warm place to double in size, for about 1 hour (Image 5 above).
Step 6: Roll out the dough. Use a rolling pin to roll the cinnamon roll dough into an 18x12 rectangle (Image 6 below).
Step 7: Spread the cinnamon filling. Spread the cinnamon mixture to the edges of the dough. Cut six 2-inch strips. Roll up the first three strips, one after the other. Then wrap the remaining strips around the sides. (Image 7 above).
Step 8: Second rise. Transfer the cinnamon roll to the greased cake pan and cover with plastic wrap. Let the cinnamon roll cake rise in a warm spot until doubled in size (Image 8 above).
Step 9: Bake! It should fill the pan when ready to bake! (Image 9 below) Bake the cake until the top is golden brown then cover with foil. Remove the cake from the oven and let it cool on a wire cooling rack.
Step 10: Make the cream cheese frosting. Combine the glaze ingredients until smooth (Image 10 above). You can do this by hand or in a stand mixing bowl with the paddle attachment (my preferred way).
Step 11: Frost, cut, and enjoy! Once out of the oven, allow the cinnamon roll cake to cool for 10 minutes, then spread the icing on top so that it melts into the cake creating gooey centers (Image 11 above).
Tips for a Moist Cake
- Use a kitchen scale. Baking with a scale is much more accurate than cup measurements. To convert this recipe, click the "metric" button next to the ingredients title on the recipe card. If you do not have a scale, use a spoon to fluff the flour first, then spoon it into your measuring cup.
- Use fresh yeast for best results! Yeast that is old or not active will result in a cake that is dense and flavorless.
- Cover the top with foil to keep the top from getting too brown. Otherwise, it will burn and be raw in the center of the cake.
- Bake just until the internal temperature reaches 170 F. Baking past this point will result in a dry cake!
This cake can be stored at room temperature for 3 days or in the fridge for 4-5 days. It's best stored in an airtight container to keep it fresh!
I recommend freezing it raw and not baked. After step 7, store the assembled cinnamon roll cake in an airtight container in the freezer for up to one month. Let it defrost in the fridge overnight then at room temperature until doubled in size before baking.
Stick an instant-read thermometer at an angle into the center of the cake. It should read 170 F when it's done baking!
If the middle is still raw, underbaked, and sinks in the middle after cooling, that is a good indication it needed longer to bake.
Definitely! For other regular cinnamon roll flavors, try my maple bacon rolls!
Cinnamon Roll Cake
- ¾ cup water
- ¼ cup all-purpose flour *See notes below for measuring*
Cinnamon Roll Dough
- 3 ½ cups all-purpose flour
- ⅓ cup granulated sugar
- 2 teaspoons instant yeast
- 1 teaspoon fine sea salt
- ½ cup whole milk room temperature
- 1 large egg room temperature
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- Tangzhong from recipe above
- 6 tablespoons unsalted butter softened
Cinnamon Sugar Filling
- ½ cup unsalted butter room temperature
- ⅔ cup light brown or dark brown sugar
- 2 tablespoon ground cinnamon
- Pinch fine sea salt
Cream Cheese Icing
- 6 tablespoon unsalted butter softened
- 3 oz cream cheese softened
- 1 cup powdered sugar
- 3-4 tablespoon milk or heavy cream
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- pinch fine sea salt
- Make the Tangzhong. In a small pot, whisk the water and all-purpose flour together. Cook over medium heat, whisking constantly, for 4-5 minutes until the mixture is thick and paste-like. Scrape it into a bowl and set it aside.¾ cup water, ¼ cup all-purpose flour
- Make the Dough. In a stand mixing bowl, mix the all-purpose flour, sugar, yeast, and salt until combined. Then add the milk, egg, vanilla, and tangzhong. Knead on low speed until it forms a rough dough ball.3 ½ cups all-purpose flour, ⅓ cup granulated sugar, 2 teaspoons instant yeast, 1 teaspoon fine sea salt, ½ cup whole milk, 1 large egg, 1 teaspoon vanilla extract, Tangzhong
- Knead the dough. Gradually mix in the softened butter, one tablespoon at a time, ensuring each addition is incorporated fully. Knead for 10-11 minutes or until the dough becomes smooth and elastic, sticking just to the bottom of the bowl. Adjust the consistency as needed with small amounts of flour or milk. If it's too wet and sticky, add flour one tablespoon at a time. If it's too dry, add half a tablespoon of milk at a time.6 tablespoons unsalted butter
- First rise. Using buttered hands, shape the dough into a smooth round ball, ensuring the seams are at the bottom. Place the dough seam side down in a buttered bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and let it rise in a warm spot for approximately 1 hour or until it doubles in size.
- Prepare the baking pan. Lightly grease an 8x3 spring form pan. See notes below for other pan sizes.
- Make the cinnamon filling. Combine the butter, brown sugar, and cinnamon until smooth.½ cup unsalted butter, ⅔ cup light brown or dark brown sugar, 2 tablespoon ground cinnamon, Pinch fine sea salt
- Roll the dough. Roll the dough out on a lightly floured surface into an 18x12 rectangle. Spread the brown sugar cinnamon filling to the edges.
- Cut the rolls. Cut six, 2-inch strips. Roll up the first strip, then continue rolling it with the second and third strips. You will have a large cinnamon roll now. Lift the next strip and wrap it around the roll, repeating with the remaining two strips. Transfer the giant roll to the greased spring form pan. Cover the top with plastic wrap, and let it rise in a warm place until doubled in size and fills the pan, another 45-60 minutes. The middle of the roll will likely poof up out of the pan, you can gently press the center back down before baking. Preheat the oven to 325°F (162°C) during this time.
- Bake! Bake for 50-60 minutes, covering with foil after 25-30 minutes (or when the top gets light golden brown.) To test for doneness, insert an instant-read thermometer at an angle into the middle part of the roll. It should read 170 F/78 C when it’s done baking! Take it out of the oven and place it on a wire cooling rack. Unlock the clasp and remove the sides of the pan. Let it cool while you make the frosting.
- Make the cream cheese icing. Mix the cream cheese, butter, and powdered sugar in a stand mixing bowl until smooth. Then mix in the heavy cream, vanilla, and salt.6 tablespoon unsalted butter, 3 oz cream cheese, 1 cup powdered sugar, 3-4 tablespoon milk or heavy cream, 1 teaspoon vanilla extract, pinch fine sea salt
- Frost with the icing and enjoy! Spoon the glaze over the warm cinnamon roll cake so that it melts down into the cake for gooey centers. You may not care to use all of the icing, which is fine! Then cut into slices and enjoy!
- Store leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for 4-5 days or at room temperature for 3-4 days. I recommend warming the leftover slices before serving!
- For a 9-inch spring form pan: Bake at 325 F for 35-45 minutes. For a 10-inch pan: bake at 325 F for 30-40 minutes
The calorie information provided for the recipe is an estimate. The accuracy of the calories listed is not guaranteed.