Additional Science of Recipe

Science Content – Ingredients in Cinnamon Rolls

Ingredient #1: All-Purpose Flour 

Flour is used for structure in quick breads. This substance allows the mixture to produce gluten  making the bread lighter and fluffier when going through the baking process. 

Ingredient #2: Granulated Sugar 

Granulated sugar, unlike brown sugar, will make the end product a fluffy substance. However, while creating a fluffy product it will help activate the yeast, but make the rolls less sweet. 

Ingredient #3: Salt

Salt enhances the flavor within products. Without using the salt in this recipe it will create a plain tasting product. Lastly, salt will help control the yeast. 

Ingredient #4: Instant Yeast 

Instant yeast feeds off of the sugar and the flour within the mixture releasing carbon dioxide causing the dough to rise. 

Ingredient #5: Whole Milk

Although milk is mainly composed of water, there are still carbohydrates, fats, and proteins within the substance. Using milk in this recipe will help activate the yeast because it hydrates the proteins in flour which feeds the yeast.

Ingredient #6: Water 

In this recipe, adding water will help keep the dough moist. 

Ingredient #7: Unsalted Butter 

In this recipe using unsalted butter instead of salted butter allows the true flavor of the cinnamon rolls to come through and gives you control over the flavor of the overall product. 

Ingredient #8: Egg

In this recipe, the egg’s protein will coagulate during the cooking process which will help find the ingredients together. The egg yolk will contribute to the golden brown color within the cinnamon rolls. Lecithin is found within eggs, specifically the yolk, serving as an emulsifier which helps to stabilize the ingredients within the mixture. 


Science Behind Each Baking Step

  1. Prep: Preheat the oven to 375°F.

375°F is an ideal temperature for baking cinnamon rolls because if the oven is too hot the rolls will start to brown too quickly leaving the inside uncooked. However, if the temperature is too low the rolls may not brown enough and this must occur in order for the rolls to become fully cooked. 

  1. Mix dry ingredients: Whisk flour, sugar, salt, and yeast in a large bowl. 

Mixing the dry ingredients separately from the wet ingredients is beneficial for the overall baking process because it will easily mix all of the ingredients evenly. Mixing the dry ingredients together first can prevent lumps in the dough after the wet ingredients are added. 

  1. Mix wet ingredients: Combine milk, water, and butter together in a separate bowl and heat until butter is melted. 

When combining the wet ingredients together separately from the dry ingredients it will provide a full distribution between all ingredients because milk will help activate the yeast especially when heated. The warm mixture will also help the granulated sugar dissolve quicker in order to create more moisture within the dough. 

  1. Combine dry and wet ingredients: Add the egg after combining all ingredients. 

Mixing the wet and dry ingredients separately will make sure that the dough is not over mixed because overmixing can cause the gluten within the flour to become tougher and more dense which will make the end product less light and airy. The egg is added after mixing the wet and dry ingredients because if the egg is added in with the warm wet ingredients the egg will start cooking and become scrambled eggs. However, if the egg is added after the mixing of the two types of ingredients it will mesh better with the dough. 

  1. Prep the dough: lightly grease a medium sized bowl. 

Knead the dough for 3 minutes, and let rest for 10 more minutes in a lightly greased bowl. Kneading will help the proteins form within flour which will develop gluten in the dough. Throughout the kneading process the dough will begin to release carbon dioxide which helps the dough to create air pockets allowing it to rise when set aside. Be careful not to over knead the dough because it will make it more dense and dry. 

  1. Baking process: Bake rolls for 25 minutes until golden brown. Use a round glass pan in order to be able to fit all of the rolls evenly. 

The glass pan is better for baking cinnamon rolls because glass retains heat better than metal pans do and it is nonreactive meaning that the end product will not have any flavor from the pan within it. Whereas if you use a metal pan the end product will have the leftover flavor from the pan. Baking the rolls within an oven that is preheated to 375°F will cause different chemical reactions. At high temperatures, above 250°F, proteins and sugars are broken down which cause maillard browning within food products. Maillard browning will enhance the taste, smell, and appearance of the food, making it that crispy brown color. The last chemical reaction that is occurring during the baking process is caramelization which happens around 350°F or higher. This forces the sugar within the food product to release water creating the steam you see when taking baked goods out of the oven. 



Jessica Gavin et al. “Common Types of Sugar for Baking.” Jessica Gavin, 7 Apr. 2020,,creating%20light%20and%20tender%20crumbs

Bernstein, Max. “How to Mix and Knead Bread Dough like a Pro.” Serious Eats, Serious Eats, 29 Oct. 2019,,Sandwich%20breads%20are%20kneaded%20more

Fennel, Sarah. “The Best Cinnamon Rolls You’ll Ever Eat.” Ambitious Kitchen, 21 Dec. 2021,  

Smith, Brett. “Chemical Reactions That Occur during Baking.” Sciencing, 29 Apr. 2019,  

“What Kind of Pan Is Best for Baking Cinnamon Rolls?” Kitchen Seer, 23 July 2021,,behind%20flavors%20from%20the%20glass.   


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