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Frozen cinnamon rolls won't rise

I made a batch of potato-dough cinnamon rolls a few weeks ago. I kept four out, let them do their second rise and baked them and they were gorgeous, fluffy and soft and perfect. The rest of the rolls were frozen as soon as they were rolled, with the intention of thawing them, letting them do a second rise and then baking them. None of the frozen ones will rise. I have tried two times, and I shared some with two friends, all with the same results.

Any ideas? It's the first time I tried freezing yeast dough. The recipe I used stated that this was acceptable. The recipe is so wonderful, I am happy to make them fresh when I want them, but I'd love to know if I did something wrong. Thanks.

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  1. How long have you left them to rise?

    It might take quite a long time for them to get up to a temperature where the yeast feels like doing it's thing.

    1. I agree about giving it more time. I don't know what the weather is like where you are, but if it's getting colder, try putting them in the oven w/ the light on; or preheat the oven to 200, turn off and then place the rolls in it.

      1 Reply
      1. re: chowser

        And make sure the surface of the rolls is moist enough to expand while they are rising. I've accidentally let the dough dry out too much and they haven't risen. Yeast doughs can be tricky, though. Good luck!

      2. ooo- share the recipe? I've never heard of potato-dough cinnamon rolls, but they sound great. I agree with other posters that the non-rise may just be time.

        3 Replies
        1. re: THewat


          I made a few changes:

          I used leftover mashed potatoes that were a little lumpy, and didn't have any cooking water saved, so I put 1 cup + about 2 TBSP potatoes, the butter, sugar and salt, plus 3/4 cup more hot water (to make up the 'potato water') all in the blender to smooth it out.

          The amount of liquid listed meant I wound up using about 50% more flour than the recipe called for, to get a soft, slightly sticky dough. It kneaded beautifully and the first batch of rolls rose easily.

          I have had some issues before with using butter in the filling, it seems like it kind of melts the sugar and cinnamon out of the rolls, so I just brushed the rolled-out dough with a little milk and then sprinkled the cinnamon/sugar on (I also used brown sugar).

          The third batch I have been playing with this afternoon just came out of the oven, same pathetic results! Oh well, we'll chalk this up to experience and try again!

          1. re: tacosandbeer

            I'm thinking that dry surface dough isn't the problem since you had them covered with plastic wrap while they were rising. Bummer they didn't rise! Disappointing after all that effort and love.

            1. re: tacosandbeer

              Thanks for posting. I make the "Rustic Potato Loaves" out of Baking with Julia, and love them. Potato dough just FEELS so nice. I'm sorry your third frozen batch didn't rise - the flops can be so discouraging.

          2. I'd let the frozen dough rise on the counter for at least 4 hours.

            1. Thanks for all the suggestions. First attempt was a thaw at room temp, then overnight in the fridge, then about an hour at room temp before going in to the oven. Second attempt, thaw in the fridge overnight, then about 3 hours at room temp. As we speak, I am trying pan #3, which I thawed at room temp, left overnight in the fridge, then left in a warmed oven (covered) for about 4 hours. #3 is showing some signs of life, but not at all like the fresh batch.

              Bear, I think you might be on to something, I noticed that they seemed a lot drier once baked. Is there a way to 'moisten' the surface? I am thawing and proofing covered with Saran wrap. Thinking back, I did freeze them on a sheet pan, uncovered, before I bagged them up. Maybe they dried out in the freezer?

              THewat, as soon as I am on the laptop I will post a link alng with the minor changes I made to the recipe. I think that they are about as close to Cinnabons as I've managed.

              3 Replies
              1. re: tacosandbeer

                What if you go directly from freezer to room temp? Is that crazy?

                1. re: tacosandbeer

                  I'm thinking the outer surface has dried as well.

                  Maybe next time, brush some oil/butter on Saran Wrap, then wrap each roll then freeze.

                  Last time I froze cinnamon rolls the same thing happened to me. That's what I'm going to try to alleviate drying.

                  When they've defrosted a bit maybe brush with milk to moisten again, while they rise.

                  1. re: tacosandbeer

                    Next time you freeze, you can let it start rising first at room temp for half an hour or so and then freeze, covered. It gives the yeast a jump start. I think you just need more time at room temp or warmed oven, less time in the fridge. The fridge will also slow the yeast considerably.

                  2. Well, for the sake of science, I went ahead and tried one last time with the last four frozen rolls. I put them in a pan last night, covered, and left them at room temp (about 70F right now) overnight, then gave them another two hours in a warmed oven this morning. Same results. And I verified with one of the friends who got a few that hers baked up just like that, too.

                    Not sure I have the nerve to waste all that effort freezing them again, but it was educational. Now I need to make a new batch and show my friend what they are really supposed to be like!!

                    7 Replies
                    1. re: tacosandbeer

                      I was thinking of making some rolls and freezing them for Thanksgiving. You have me rethinking this strategy.

                      1. re: FoodChic

                        I do it all the time and it works great. Just give them a little rise before you freeze and give them enough time to defrost and rise.

                        1. re: chowser

                          I definitely did not give them any rise time before freezing, and I did freeze them on a sheet pan uncovered (giving them time to dry out?) - maybe that combination was the culprit. If I ever try it again, I will give them a little rise time first. They got plenty of chances to thaw after rising, whatever I did wrong had to be in the freezing process.

                          1. re: tacosandbeer

                            I give them about a half hour rise time, then cover and freeze. I use a 9x13 pyrex baking pan w/ snap on lid. As pointed out above, you don't want to let them dry out. I don't know if that might have caused your problem but don't give up on it! I'm always gone the week before Christmas so I make my rolls ahead of time and freeze. I take them out the day before to thaw, then refrigerate overnight. Bring to room temp (time it takes to open gifts) and bake.

                            1. re: chowser

                              Thanks! I would love to have stock on hand to thaw and bake when I don't otherwise have the time or inclination to make rolls fresh, so I will keep trying. Atleast one thing I am sure of, it's not the recipe. I made a second batch two days ago and used sweet potatoes instead of white, let them do the second rise in the fridge over about 36 hours (not entirely intentionally, Chowpup got ill and I forgot about the pan of rolls out in the garage fridge) and after letting them warm up for about two hours and baking them, they were fantastic. I'm going to give it another try soon, so I have time to test-run a few after they are frozen, before Thanksgiving. Fingers crossed!

                              1. re: tacosandbeer

                                Mmmmm…yum. Sweet potato cinnamon rolls. Please keep up posted! And good luck.

                                1. re: tacosandbeer

                                  If you want to have frozen rolls on hand to bake up whenever it might be worth looking into parbaking them. That's when you bake them for about 3/4 of the baking time and then freeze them, later you take them out, bake them the rest of the way, drizzle icing over the top and serve fresh baked buns. I've only done this with bagels but it has been very successful for me.

                      2. I feel your pain. This happened to me a few times with yeast dough. Tried all the options you mentioned and failed. Finally decided to bake and freeze the finished product with much greater success. Here's a tip. Freeze rolls individually for a few hours before storing in a ziploc bag.

                        Here's a link that may help if you want to still try freezing dough.