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Freezing Cinnamon Rolls - Before or After Baking?

I wil have a friend visiting from out of state in a few weeks, and I'd like to pre-make a pan of homemade cinnamon rolls for her to enjoy while she is here. Can I freeze them in their pre-baked state, or bake them first and then freeze them? I am guessing the former but would appreciate input either way. Which leads me to my next question -- if I freeze before baking, then should I let the pan sit out overnight to thaw/rise, or leave it in the fridge overnight, and sit out for awhile in the morning for the final rise? fwiw, I'll be making Alton Brown's recipe.

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  1. Either way is doable. When using frozen dough from a raw state, let the dough thaw in the frig, overnight at least, then proof in a warm spot for about a half hour. Dough should be frozen after the first rise and the roll and cut, but I've also done the rolling and cutting after defrosting the dough. I prefer baking them as needed; there's nothing like the aroma of freshly baked cinnamon rolls direct from the oven.

    Leftover baked rolls can be frozen, even with the glaze; bread products freeze well, but there was a recent thread here about using up leftover cinnamon rolls, if there is such an animal, as a base for bread pudding, in ice cream, sliced for French toast, etc.

    Is the Alton's recipe you're using the overnight cinnamon rolls with the cream cheese icing, or another one?

    http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/al...

    4 Replies
    1. re: bushwickgirl

      It's the overnight recipe. I've made it before (the conventional way -- baking them the next morning) and they turned out great.

      Thanks for the suggestions!

      1. re: mdepsmom

        Good to know they're great, I'll have to try them sometime.

      2. re: bushwickgirl

        I keep a pretty cool house in the winter. Would a heating pad work as a warm place to proof the dough after it has thawed in the fridge?

        1. re: nofunlatte

          You can put it in your oven with the light on. If that's not enough, you can preheat the oven at 200 deg (I have tiles in to maintain the temp) and then turn the oven off and put dough in--nice trick I learned from CI.

      3. I lean towards making the dough and freezing it. Nothing beats a hot cinnamon roll out of the oven, even one that's been frozen and reheated. Bushwickgirl has you covered on how to do it.

        1. If u bake them now u can taste one and make sure they taste good. Normally when i bake cinnamon rolls i freeze the once thats left over and then when I need them again i just put them in the oven for a few minutes and they taste/smell like new baked but freeze them with out frosting.

          1 Reply
          1. Update . . . I made the cinnamon rolls a couple weeks ago, did the first rise, then formed them, put them in the pan, triple-wrapped them (first plastic wrap, then a double wrap of heavy duty foil), and froze them. Took the pan out of the freezer last Thursday (the day before I planned to bake them), and took the pan out of the fridge last Friday morning, and let it sit for 30 minutes before baking.

            This was an experiment that failed. The rolls barely rose before baking, and rose just a little more during baking, while the non-frozen batch rose nicely to meet the top of the pan. Also, the frozen batch had a texture after baking that was dense and not tender/fluffy as my first batch. So, I would not recommend the freezing-before-baking route. So disappointing when you make something for company and then they suck!

            3 Replies
            1. re: mdepsmom

              You didn't let them proof enough before baking. 30 minutes may have not been enough time for the rolls to rise completely from a frozen state, even when defrosted in the frig overnight. Did you have them completely wrapped in the frig as you did when you froze them, witha double layer of heavy duty foil? That's pretty heavy insulation. I would have taken them out of the freezer a few days in advance in that case.

              It's not about the clock, it's about the dough and the time it takes to come to room temp and proof properly. The reason for the dense texture in your rolls was that they hadn't proofed enough before baking, as compared to the other pan. Freezing before baking has always worked for me, but I rely on the dough to rise, and don't bake until the dough is ready, and I don't rely on the clock. I know I wrote "half hour in a warm spot" but that's really contingent on a bunch of things, the ambient temperature in the kitchen, how long it takes the dough to proof, etc. It takes a half hour in my very warm kitchen, with dough that's completely defrosted. Sweeet doughs tend to be heavier than regular bread dough, and may need even longer time to proof. They still could have been slightly frozen when you removed them from the frig on Friday morning. They needed more time to rise.

              Sorry it didn't work out for you.

              1. re: mdepsmom

                As bushwickgirl said, it probably didn't come to temperature in the time then. How long to leave it depends on many factors from temperature of house to size of rolls to how well wrapped they were. You want to leave it so they rise. If my house is really cold, I'll turn on the warmer on the stove and put a wire rack over it and place the rolls on that. Sorry yours didn't turn out but freezing does work, if you know what to look for.

                1. re: mdepsmom

                  Hi mdepsom,

                  I went through the exact same process as you did. I am in the middle of proofing the frozen ones (defrosted overnight in the fridge), using Alton's method of hot water in the oven. They have not puffed up and I am expected some rocks, as you got.

                  Funny that I found this thread while doing this. Thanks for sharing your experience. I guess in the future, we should just bake off all the buns and then freeze them, yah?

                2. CI had a recipe in a recent special issue (they were all 'make ahead' recipes), and they recommend freezing after the second rise and baking from frozen, adding about 10 minutes of baking time. Also, ISTR they recommended covering the pan with foil for about the first 30 minutes or so to retain some moisture, then uncovering at the end for proper browning.