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While good in theory my attempt at whole wheat cinnamon rolls just didn’t “pan out” as expected.  After my dismal attempt to make a healthier treat for my husband I have researched substituting whole wheat flour for the white all purpose flour in the original recipe.  So the fact that I learned lots of new information makes the exercise very useful and I feel less unhappy about ditching two dozen of these not-so-tasty morsels.

Unfortunately, they look a whole lot better than they tasted! The whole wheat flour made them VERY dense and heavy. They also didn’t rise very much while proofing. So here are the tips I learned about substituting whole wheat flour into a recipe.

  1. Use half white all purpose and half whole wheat.
  2. Sift the whole wheat flour at least once but twice if you have time as this will incorporate a lot more air into the recipe.  Also spoon the flour into the measuring cup instead of scooping.
  3. You may need to add a little more water to the recipe with whole wheat especially freshly ground since it can have quite different absorptive properties.
  4. One site suggested using 7/8 of a cup of whole wheat for every 1 cup  of white all purpose.

Ok, well those are some very good pointers and I will be making them again today using white all purpose.  One of the guys my hubby works with says my cinnamon rolls are the best he’s ever eaten… Bet he doesn’t feel that way when he tries one of the four whole wheat ones hubby took in today!  (He was being supportive of my baking and fearful that I might get discouraged and he risks living in a treat free house!!)

Here’s the recipe using the white all purpose, but you should be able to substitute safely now that we know a little more about using whole wheat… besides some things are just not meant to be healthy… Cinnamon rolls are a treat to be eaten in moderation, not an essential part of our daily diet.

Jumbo Cinnamon Rolls

Yield: 12 Large Rolls

1 pint Water, warm
2.5 pounds All-purpose flour
6 ounces Granulated sugar
1/2 ounce Active dry yeast
3/4 ounces Dry milk powder
1/2 teaspoon Salt
5 ounces Whole butter, softened

3 ounces Whole butter, softened
1/2 teaspoon Cinnamon, ground (I used way more cinnamon than this)
3 ounces Brown sugar
2 ounces Raisins (ewwww… I leave these out)

11 fluid ounces Powdered Sugar Glaze


1.    Combine all the dough ingredients in a large mixer bowl fitted with a dough hook. Knead the dough until it is smooth, approximately 6 to 8 minutes.

2.    Place the dough in a lightly oiled bowl, cover and ferment until doubled.

3.    Punch down the dough and roll it out on a lightly floured surface. Shape into a rectangle, approximately 18 inches × 30 inches (45 centimeters × 75 centimeters).

4.    To make the filling, spread the softened butter over the surface of the dough. Combine the cinnamon, brown sugar and raisins and sprinkle this mixture over the butter, covering the dough evenly.

5.    Starting with the longer side, roll the dough into a spiral. Cut into 12-pieces, each approximately 1-1/2 inches (3.7 centimeters) thick. Place the rolls close together, cut side up, on a paper-lined sheet pan and allow them to rise until doubled.

6.    Bake at 300°F (150°C) oven until golden brown and done, approximately 30 minutes.

7.    Cool slightly, then top with Powdered Sugar Glaze.

Powdered Sugar Glaze

1 pound Powdered sugar, sifted
2 teaspoons Vanilla extract
2 teaspoons Lemon juice
1 fluid ounce Water, warm

Combine all the ingredients in a small bowl. Stir to blend thoroughly and dissolve any lumps. Cover and store at room temperature.

(Source: On Baking – Labensky)

(14) Comments   


Laura on 9 February, 2009 at 10:36 am #

these look unbelievable and i love the idea that they’re whole wheat. it’s too bad they didn’t work out. let me know when you try again! 🙂

zerrin on 9 February, 2009 at 2:26 pm #

Thank you for these tips. I didn’t know the difference between whole wheat flour and white all purpose flour. They will help me. I’m learning a lot from your website.

Colleen on 9 February, 2009 at 3:04 pm #

Thank you Laura and Zerrin, I hope you enjoy making them. Be sure and send me a link to your pics if you do! 🙂

The Duo Dishes on 9 February, 2009 at 6:01 pm #

Awesome tips! Whole wheat flour is such a gem. It’ll be nice to use it more often in baked goods.

i bake for you :) on 9 February, 2009 at 6:12 pm #

Hello~ Thanks for dropping by my blog. I love your site! It’s all so adorable!
These scrolls look wonderful still! I like trial and error. I do it all the time. Haha~ 😀

Tangled Noodle on 9 February, 2009 at 9:37 pm #

Although they didn’t quite work out for you, I appreciate that you’ve passed along what you learned. Hopefully, second time’s the charm!

Leanne on 10 February, 2009 at 11:02 am #

I too try to incorporate whole wheat in some of my desserts. I usually just sub half like you mentioned. Thanks so much for the rest of the tips. I will try them next time.

snooky doodle on 10 February, 2009 at 1:20 pm #

Interesting info . these rolls look delicious have to try these 🙂

My Comfort Food on 10 February, 2009 at 5:38 pm #

I like to use wheat flour as much as I can. But like you said when it comes to baking some treats, let’s just treat ourselves. I have now substituted whole wheat pasta for regular pasta, same with bread. So these little changes are good enough for our everyday life.

Your C.buns look great.

Colleen on 10 February, 2009 at 6:16 pm #

I think it’s great we are at least “trying” to make healthier choices… some things as we have chatted here about are just meant to be baaaaaaaaaaaaad!! Ya gotta love that too! Thanks for all the great feedback, I appreciate you all!

mama chicken on 12 February, 2009 at 10:32 am #

I like to experiment with whole wheat… I’ve had varying results! (for example, whole wheat biscuits? forget it – like hockey pucks!) For baked goods, I use whole wheat pastry flour. I generally get better results when I use 1/2 whole wheat and 1/2 AP. I also sub some of the flour for an equal part ground flax. The oils in the flax help with the texture and moisture. You may also consider subbing honey for the sugar. I have also heard that adding 1-2 T more water per cup of flour, as the wheat takes longer to hydrate – this I have not tried…

I’m going to try your recipe!

Colleen on 12 February, 2009 at 1:35 pm #

I can only imagine how dense whole wheat biscuits would be… Think I’ll just take your word on that and not waste the ingredients… 🙂 I will also be giving your other substitutions a try, thanks for sharing them with us!!! Good luck with the recipe and let me know how that goes!! 🙂

Jo on 14 February, 2009 at 10:18 pm #

These sound great. I would add 1/2
cup of chopped pecans or slivered almonds.
Like raisins myself, but like nuts better.

Colleen on 14 February, 2009 at 10:33 pm #

Hi Jo! I agree with you on the pecans myself. Hubby doesn’t like nuts in his food but eats them from the shell or tin… go figure! 🙂 Thanks for the comment and nice to see you here!

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