Banana Bread Cinnamon Rolls

At the gym, I always get momentarily excited when a group fitness instructor will remind us how long it is until spring break. That is until I realize I haven’t had a spring break in 5 years and probably won’t ever again. I think throughout highschool and undergrad they need to prepare you for the fact that you will no longer have those cushy months off every summer, or the weeks off at Christmas and spring time. Oh the days before responsibility.

Banana Bread Cinnamon Rolls 3

Enough reminiscing though. It’s time to talk about bananas and how much I love baking with them. Although it’s rare that they survive long enough in my kitchen to turn brown. They are usually consumed well before that can happen, but every now and then I get smart enough to buy larger quantities in order to force the situation in which they need to be baked with. This most recent time, they were so brown that if I had waited another day they might have ended up in the trash. But instead they were transformed into these beautiful cinnamon rolls that taste just like banana bread.

Banana Bread Cinnamon Rolls

Two years ago: Chicken Parmeatballs


Makes 8-12 rolls



3 Tbsp unsalted butter, to be divided

1/4 cup whole milk, warmed (not over 116 degrees)

1-1/4 tsp active dry yeast (from 1 .25-ounce or 7 gram envelope yeast)

1-1/2 cup all-purpose flour, plus extra for rolling out

1/2 cup white whole wheat flour

2 Tbsp dark brown sugar

2 Tbsp sugar

1/2 tsp salt

1/4 tsp ground cinnamon

1/8 tsp freshly grated nutmeg

Pinch ground cardamom (optional)

1/8 tsp ground ginger

1 medium overripe banana, mashed (no chunks)

1 egg

Oil for coating rising bowl


1/3 cup dark brown sugar

2 Tbsp sugar

Pinch salt

1 tsp ground cinnamon

2 Tbsp chopped walnuts

Half medium banana, thinly sliced


2 oz. reduced fat cream cheese, softened

1 Tbsp milk

1 cup powdered sugar, sifted

1/2 tsp vanilla extract

2 Tbsp chopped walnuts


  1. Make your dough: Melt your butter in a little saucepan. Once the butter has melted, keep cooking it over medium heat for a few additional minutes. It will bubble a lot, then take on a nutty flavor as golden bits form at the bottom of the pot. Remove from heat and set aside to cool slightly.
  2. Combine the warmed milk and yeast in a small bowl and set aside. After five to seven minutes, it should be a bit foamy.
  3. In the bottom of the bowl of an electric mixer combine flour, sugars, salt and spices. Add just 2 tablespoons of your melted/browned butter and stir to combine. Add yeast-milk mixture, banana and egg and mix combined. Switch mixer to a dough hook and run it for 5 minutes on low (or knead by hand). Add more flour if necessary.
  4. Scrape mixture into a large oiled bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Set aside for 1 hour in a draft-free place; it should just about double.
  5. While it is rising, line the bottom of one 9-inch round cake pan with parchment paper and butter the sides of the pan and the paper.
  6. Assemble buns: Scoop dough onto a very well floured surface and flour the top of it well. With a rolling pin, roll the dough to an approximately 12×12-inch square. Brush reserved melted/browned butter over dough. Stir together remaining filling ingredients and sprinkle mixture evenly over dough and top with banana slices. Roll the dough into a tight spiral. (It’s going to make a mess because the dough is crazy soft and some stuff spills off the ends; don’t sweat it.)
  7. With a sharp serrated knife, using absolutely no pressure whatsoever (only the weight of the blade should land on the dough) gently saw your log with a back-forth motion into approximately 1-1/2 inch sections (for 8 rolls) or 1-inch sections (for 12 rolls).
  8. Place buns in prepared pan. Sprinkle any sugar that fell off onto the counter over them. Cover pan with plastic wrap and let rise for another 45 minutes.
  9. If you’re doing this ahead of time, you can now put them in the fridge overnight. In the morning, leave them out for an hour to warm up and finish rising.
  10. 15 minutes before you’re ready to bake them, heat the oven to 350 degrees. Meanwhile, you can make the glaze. Beat your cream cheese until it is light and fluffy. Add powdered sugar and vanilla. Drizzle in milk until you get the consistency you’re looking for, either thick enough to ice or thin enough to drizzle.
  11. Finish your buns: Remove the plastic and bake buns for 25 minutes, until puffed and golden. Transfer pans to wire cooling racks and drizzle with cream cheese glaze, then top with walnuts.

Source: Adapted from Smitten Kitchen.


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