Made without yeast, Newfoundland Style Cinnamon Rolls are less like bread and more like a biscuit. This is the recipe every Newfoundlander is most familiar with. Often eaten with a cup of tea after a big meal, or as an afternoon treat. Oh, and no icing needed here; perfection doesn’t need to be dressed up!
It’s time for another one of my favourite Newfoundland recipes. This time, it’s a simple and rustic, no-fuss cinnamon roll. I can’t speak for the present, but you could search the island over and not find a cinnamon roll topped with icing when I was growing up there in the 80s and 90s.
Maybe there’s a family or two that make them drizzled with icing now, but I would wager to guess that it’s still not that popular. In fact, according to their website, Cinnabon still does not have a franchise in Newfoundland, and I blame them for the icing craze anyway. As far as I’m concerned, if your cinnamon roll was made properly, it wouldn’t need gobs of icing to get people to eat it.
I bet you, Dear Reader, if you were to visit my cousin Loretta’s house for a cup of tea, she would serve cinnamon rolls that look very similar to this. I know these are the type my dad still bakes. And, another cousin, Josie, makes them this way too. Why? Because yeast-free cinnamon rolls without icing is the traditional Newfoundland way. Why mess with it?
My mom used to make the best cinnamon rolls, but I couldn’t find her recipe. Her hand-scribbled recipes disappeared when she passed away, and I’ve exhausted every possibility of finding them and having them returned to me. For this recipe, I had to rely on a friend of mine who has a Newfoundland recipe Facebook Group.
Her name is Alvena and she’s quite the baker! I have found many of the recipes that my mom used to make in the group. Keep posting, Alvena! Her version was as close to mom’s as I could find. They look a little more plump than the cinnamon rolls mom used to make, but they taste exactly the same!
My memories of these cinnamon rolls are fond memories. In Newfoundland, it’s a very common thing to finish a meal with a little sweet. I wouldn’t call it dessert. Dessert to me conjures up images of whipped cream, chocolate, syrups and drizzles and whatnot. For us, after a meal, one would usually have a cup of tea and a little sweet treat.
Sweet treats such as a Date Square, or a slice of Tomato Soup Cake, or a Jam Jam; and of course, cinnamon rolls too. And that sweet treat didn’t just apply to dinner. Many times we would come home from school for lunch, eat our toasted bologna sandwiches, or our canned beans and wieners, and end lunch with a cinnamon roll.
I have to tell you though, I still prefer to eat these cinnamon rolls the same way I did when I was a kid. I love to have a cup of hot tea with a little bit of sugar and milk. I’ll place two cinnamon rolls on a plate and smear the bottom of each roll with butter. Then, I’ll have a slice of cheese or two to go with it. To me, it’s a great afternoon snack or a late lunch!
This might just be the first time John.e gets to taste these Newfoundland Style Cinnamon Rolls. I very rarely make them, because I tend to eat too many. I’ve learned to offset the guilt by not smearing the bottom of my cinnamon rolls with butter, but in all truth, I still consume more than I should.
This particular batch is going to work with John.e. I’ll package up a few of them for him to take to the house this weekend. I’m not going this weekend, because I have to start prepping my fall recipes. He will go alone and work on some of the landscaping. I have to make sure he has a sweet treat or two to get him through the weekend, right!?
Newfoundland Style Cinnamon Rolls
For the Dough:
- 1/4 cup butter, softened
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 1 large egg
- 3/4 cup milk
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 4 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
For the Filling:
- 1/2 cup butter, softened
- 3/4 cup brown sugar
- 2 tablespoons cinnamon
- 1 large egg
- 1 tablespoon water
For the Dough:
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat and set aside.
- In a large mixing bowl, use a hand-held mixer to beat together the butter and the sugar until well incorporated.
- Add the egg and beat into the butter and sugar.
- Next, add the milk and vanilla extract. Beat to combine.
- Sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt.
- Add the dry ingredients into the wet mixture and beat well to combine.
- When a dough is formed, place the dough into the fridge to cool for 15 minutes.
For the Filling:
- While the dough is cooling, whisk together the brown sugar and the cinnamon. Set aside.
- Once the dough has cooled, half the dough and roll dough on a lightly floured surface to 1/16th of an inch thick. Try to get the dough into a square shape – it won't be perfect!
- Use a pastry brush to brush half of the butter over the surface of the rolled dough.
- Sprinkle half of the cinnamon and brown sugar mixture over the buttered dough.
- Carefully lift the dough slightly from one end and begin rolling the dough into a long cylinder, working your way down the side of the rolled dough. Try to roll as tightly as possible without breaking or tearing the dough.
- Once rolled, use a sharp knife to slice the rolled dough into one inch slices. Place onto the prepared baking sheet, leaving two inches of space between each roll.
- Next, whisk together the egg and the water. Use a pastry brush to lightly brush the top and side of each cinnamon roll.
- Bake for 10 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to cool on the baking sheet for 2-3 minutes. Transfer to a wire cooling rack to finish cooling.
- Repeat with the remaining half of dough.