Simple Cinnamon Roll Biscuits

July 21, 2016


“The problem is not the problem. Its your attitude about the problem.” – Captain Jack Sparrow

I remember many a time, not that long ago, standing at the top of a tricky, loose, rocky descent squeezing the brakes of my mountain bike and quivering from the inside out. I knew that the rocks weren’t going to jump out and take me down, and I knew that the only way to navigate them safely was to choose a line, gain some speed, and commit. But, I also didn’t trust myself to choose a line, didn’t like the way my brain would go to disastrous places in the middle of the decent; places so dark I’d falter or fall. And then I’d bleed. 

But all those times felt a million miles away the other weekend when a little crew of my favorite girlfriends and I packed our bikes, bikinis and a change of clothes and headed to the little town of Buena Vista a few hours from home. We had our sights set on some of the areas’ most beautiful mountain biking terrain; terrain I had never ridden, on mountains I had never seen, and there were sure to be tricky, loose, rocky descents galore. We spent all weekend ripping through aspen groves, fluttering the daisies, columbine flowers and wild roses as we whooshed past. We climbed tricky grades covered with roots and boulders, and wound our way through forests only to find ourselves in the middle of fields that made us feel on top of the world. If there was a line I couldn’t navigate, I don’t remember where it was. If there was a lack of trust in myself, I never felt it, and if there was a dark place lurking behind the grin that I wore ear to ear as I played in this beautiful backyard with these bold babes, I never detected it. Nothing, really, had changed for me…except my attitude about how to approach the obstacles in my path. And, it really wasn’t until, at the end of the weekend – when we’d ridden so hard and tackled so many obstacles subliminally – that we found ourselves having a hard time processing them. And then we just rolled over that shit.  

Cinnamon Suga

It’s absolutely true that we’re more brave when we know we’re not in it alone – no matter what “it” is. Hearing the whoops of this babe squad filling the forest, I knew that whatever lie ahead was either a simply wonderful challenge, or just wonderfully simple and I didn’t think a bit about it. Rather than focus on the obstacles ahead, all I could think about was getting up to the origin of that enthusiasm and being part of it. 

The same held true for finding a way to get cinnamon rolls on the table when we woke up in Buena Vista on Saturday morning. Bike adventures are nothing to me if there aren’t treats involved and this was no exception. This time the girls requested cinnamon rolls, but recipes calling for yeast-raised dough posed a problem; I wouldn’t have time to make the dough on the night we arrived at the house, and I couldn’t guarantee that the temperature of the dough would stay cold on the car ride to Buena Vista. Instead, I wanted a formula that would be easy for me to pack, transport to the high-country, and then whip up with just a few steps in the morning before we left to ride. We were so excited to eat cinnamon rolls for breakfast that I couldn’t imagine it any other way. And I couldn’t allow these silly dough-fermentation obstacles to bring me down.

The inspiration for the recipe came first from Meredith, (who raised her emoji-hand immediately when I asked for requests for breakfast pastries and typed CINNAMON ROLLS!) and then from a Moosewood Cookbook recipe she remembers making for her teammates years ago; one leavened by baking powder. In my kitchen, the recipe became less nutmeg-y and a little more cinnamon-y. Then there was an easy little vanilla bean glaze added.  They were wonderfully simple to make, and absolutely part of the enthusiasm of the weekend; making our getaway breakfast feel special and ceremonial, and the leftovers held up well in our backpacks to be eaten at the top of Georgia Pass so these quick cinnamon rolls will be whipped up again and again for weekend rides where satisfying, sweet, trail treats are an order. 

Dancing on Monarch Crest

A few notes: the directions below give you guidance as if you were going to make the biscuits in your kitchen in one fell swoop. But, I can’t emphasize just how great these are for a camping trip, road trip or weekend getaway or anywhere you might be cooking away from home. In individual plastic bags, measure out the ingredients for the cinnamon-sugar, the dry biscuit mix and then the powdered sugar for the glaze. When you arrive at your destination, buy the proper measure of cream and then mix all the components. Roll out (hopefully not with a wine bottle but so ya know, it WILL work if your rental kitchen doesn’t have a rolling pin!) Then bake, and enjoy. 

Georgia Pass

Feel free to adjust the spices to your liking. I imagine that you could also use a dairy-milk alternative in lieu of the milk if dairy is an obstacle for you. Don’t be afraid. Mix it up and get creative. No obstacle to cinnamon rolls (or tricky decents) is a reasonable one! xx – L



Simple Cinnamon Rolls
for the cinnamon-sugar mix
  1. ¼ cup brown sugar, packed (or turbinado sugar)
  2. 2 1/4 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  3. 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
for the biscuit dough
  1. 2½cups unbleached white flour
  2. 2 tablespoons brown sugar, packed
  3. 2 teaspoons baking powder
  4. ½ teaspoon salt
  5. 1½ cups plus 1 tablespoon heavy cream
For the glaze
  1. 3 tablespoons confectioners' sugar
  2. 2 to 3 teaspoons milk or heavy cream
  3. one vanilla bean, split and scraped (optional)
  1. Preheat the oven to 400°. In a small bowl, combine the brown sugar, cinnamon, and nutmeg and set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, stir together the flour, brown sugar, baking powder, and salt. (hint: you can combine these dry ingredients in a ziploc bag for transport!) Add 1½ cups of the cream and stir briskly until the dough forms a ball, about 1 minute. With your hands, fold the dough over a few times in the bowl, until all of the loose bits are incorporated and the dough is smooth. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface.
  3. Lightly flour your hands and your work surface. Then, gently pat and roll the dough into a ½-inch-thick rectangle about 9 x 13 inches. Brush the surface of the dough with the remaining tablespoon of cream. Sprinkle evenly with the cinnamon sugar mix.
  4. Starting from a long side, roll the dough into a cylinder squeezing the dough as you roll. (You want the rolls to be nice and tight after you slice them and the less space in the center, the better!) Slice into 9 equal rounds. Place the biscuit rounds - evenly spaced and cut side down - in an un-oiled 8-inch square baking dish or a pie plate. Bake for about 30 minutes, until the biscuits are lightly browned. While the biscuits bake, prepare the icing.
  5. Mix together the confectioners' sugar, optional vanilla bean seeds and milk or cream until smooth. When you remove the biscuits from the oven, immediately drizzle them with the icing.
  6. Serve warm.

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