Brown Sugar Cinnamon Rolls | Swirls and Spice

Upside Down Cinnamon Rolls

Brown sugar glazed cinnamon rolls hearken back to a simpler time, when most households had a baking schedule.  Taste one and realize why home baked sweet rolls still merit their own day of the week.

Brown Sugar Cinnamon Rolls | Swirls and Spice

Though I haven’t shared about my mother and grandmother for a while, I remain thankful for these two remarkable, faithful women who continue to influence me in matters of faith and family.  That they have also lent me some of their kitchen expertise, I also appreciate.  One of the earliest recipes that I shared here at Swirls and Spice was a dairy-free version of my mom’s delicious custard-style rice pudding.

Although my grandmother has gone onto glory, certain recipes and foods remind me of her at home in her tiny kitchen. Straightforward baked goods like Swedish hardtack, date squares, and butter tarts were just a few of her specialties.  She also made a particular kind of cinnamon roll that I wanted to taste again.

Saskatchewan-born and raised, my grandma learned to make cinnamon rolls the no-fuss prairie way.  No separate frosting made from icing sugar was involved.  Just carmelized brown sugar and cinnamon glazed the tops of each roll after they were turned upside down from the pan.  This style of cinnamon roll can still be found on the plains of Nebraska all the way up to Saskatchewan today.

Brown Sugar Cinnamon Rolls | Swirls and Spice

During my mom’s most recent visit in March, I asked her to help me develop a recipe that would closely resemble my grandma’s simple cinnamon rolls.  Since my grandmother made cinnamon rolls every weekend when my mom was a child, no written version of her recipe needed to exist. Even into her late eighties, my Grandma A. could still create them skillfully, while other memories of past places and names faded away.

And now, thanks to my mom’s memories and guidance, those cinnamon rolls can grace my table–and perhaps yours too.

Upside Down Brown Sugar Cinnamon Rolls

  • Servings: 12 rolls
  • Print


  • 3 to 3+1/2 cups unbleached flour
  • 1/2 cup quick oats
  • 1/4 cup sugar (white or unrefined)
  • 1/2 cup salted butter, divided
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 pkg. yeast (2 + 1/4 teaspoon)
  • 1+1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • ground cinnamon, to taste
  • 1 cup + 1/3 cup brown sugar, divided
  • nuts or dried fruit, optional


  1. Heavily grease pan with 2 Tablespoons butter.  Sprinkle evenly with 1/3 cup brown sugar and cinnamon to taste.
  2. Blend together 1+1/2 cups flour,  1/4 cup sugar, salt, and yeast.  In a heat-proof cup, blend together 2 Tablespoons melted butter and 1 cup warm water.  Add liquid and egg to flour mixture.  Mix for 3 minutes at medium speed.  Stir in oats and 1 more cup of flour, adding more more as needed.  Knead one minute.  Cover dough loosely and let rise for 20 to 30 minutes.Brown Sugar Cinnamon Rolls | Swirls and Spice
  3. Roll or press dough into a large rectangle about 15 x 8.  Spread 1/4 cup softened butter over dough.  Sprinkle with 1 cup brown sugar and cinnamon to taste.  Add nuts or dried fruit if desired.  Roll up dough and slice into 12 pieces.  Lay raw cinnamon rolls in the prepared pan.Brown Sugar Cinnamon Rolls | Swirls and Spice
  4. Cover rolls and let rise 1 hour.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (180 C).  Bake cinnamon rolls for 25 to 30 minutes.  Flip warm rolls onto a parchment lined tray.  Serve warm.  Makes 12 upside down cinnamon rolls.

7 thoughts on “Upside Down Cinnamon Rolls

  1. YMMMM! I remember the pan you baked in March…so delicious I know your Grandma A is very delighted with your skills and expertise.
    Happy Mother’s Day weekend.
    Love you much,

  2. It brought me back to when I used to watch Grandma Wood bake cinnamon rolls when I was a child. She baked bread every Saturday morning and we would sometimes have the cinnamon rolls on Sunday morning instead of the everyday pancakes. Such a sweet memory!

  3. Wowza!! These look sooooo good. I love that this is an old family recipe, those are the best. I am hoping some mean in my life make me something sweet for Mother’s Day! Perhaps I should bookmark this for them. -Kat

  4. I didn’t see salt in the recipe, though it says to add salt but not baking powder in the instructions…? So I added a small bit of salt…the dough is great consistency but it really needed the salt. Since this was the first time I’ve ever made cinnamon rolls, or dough of any kind, I didn’t have the back-knowledge to know how much salt to put in.

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