Cape Breton Style Cinnamon Rolls v1

By jeff


For a while now I have been thinking about the cinnamon rolls that I had growing up. The only way that I could describe them was biscuit vs bread style. My searching both online and recipe books was not yielding any satisfactory results. Then Jess found this.

It was a cold afternoon so I decided to give them a go.

The Recipe - Direct from Mary Jane MacDonald

Ingredients for dough:

  • 4 cups flour
  • 6 tsp. baking powder
  • 2 tsp. salt
  • 2 heaping tbsp. white sugar
  • 1/2 cup shortening or butter
  • 2 cups of milk

Ingredients for filling:

  • butter or becel
  • brown sugar
  • cinnamon


  1. Mix the dry ingredients -- flour, baking powder, salt and white sugar -- with your hands.
  2. Add ½ cup shortening (or butter – your choice – and make sure it’s at room temperature) and blend it into the flour with your hands until crumbly (mealy).
  3. Make a well in centre and add 2 cups of milk.
  4. With a fork – scrape all the flour into the milk and combine until all the flour is absorbed and you have the dough nicely combined.
  5. Sprinkle a little flour onto your counter and form the dough into a ball and place on the floured surface.
  6. Sprinkle a bit of flour on the dough and on your rolling pin and roll out until about ½ inch thickness.
rolled out with butter

My butter wasn't soft enough so I just chunked it on

  1. You can use butter (or I use Becel because it’s nice and soft) and spread some all over the surface of the rolled out dough – just like you were spreading peanut butter on the surface of a slice of bread.
  2. Now add some brown sugar – sprinkle enough on – probably more than a cup, maybe a cup and a half - until all spread out all over the surface and right to the edges.
Rolled out dough with butter, sugar and cinnamon

I really wasn't shy about the cinnamon, I like a lot of cinnamon

  1. Now, sprinkle cinnamon over the complete surface – don’t be shy.
  2. Roll up the dough like a jelly roll.
  3. With a serrated bread knife, cut off both ends of the roll (these pieces you can cook on your second pan) but for now – cut your slices about ¾ inch thick and place on the cookie sheet. (I use a stoneware 9x13” pan as I find they scorch easily in a metal pan – or perhaps you might want to try a lower temperature if you are using a metal pan.)
  4. Bake for 18 minutes on middle rack (18 minutes in my oven – yours might be done at 14 minutes - check often).
Cinnamon rolls fresh out of the oven

They look really good

The Frosting

  • 3 tablespoons of soft butter or Becel
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • About 2 cups of icing sugar
  • A little bit of milk (I used 2 tbsp)

My Thoughts

They are very, very close to what I'm looking for. I'm really not a fan of the frosting both too sweet and too much vanilla.

As they are right now, I give them a 2/5, but with a lot of promise if I took a bit more care throughout the process. The texture was perfect, but they weren't quite rolled tightly enough, that would have improved it a lot. Also I think I needed a bit more sugar for the filling.

Just those two things would up it a pip to 3/5 and finally if I didn't put on the frosting (or just used a bit less vanilla) that would have probably made them a 4/5.

I will be tweaking as I go and be sure to give updates. I'm pretty sure that Mary Jane would have produced 4/5 with this exact recipe, but that's the thing with baking, a lot of it is feel, and she has a lot more experience with this recipe.