Patience Is Key For Mastering The Art Of Sweet Rolls

Is there any treat quite as delicious as a freshly baked cinnamon roll? The indulgent snack has it all: pillowy dough, layers of butter, cinnamon and sugar, and, of course, a drizzle of mouthwatering icing. But for many of us, trying to recreate our favorite baked goods at home can pose a challenge. From undercooked centers to dry, crispy edges, these swirled confections aren't nearly as easy to make as they look. To learn the secrets behind baking the best homemade cinnamon rolls, Tasting Table spoke to Sianni Dean, founder and owner of Cranky Granny's Sweet Rolls in Pflugerville, Texas.

Cranky Granny's was awarded the fan-favorite title in Pepsi Dig In's Restaurant Royalty competition, earning the eatery a residency with MGM Resorts International. Pepsi Dig In also sponsored the up-and-coming bakery at the inaugural Honeyland Festival, a first-of-its-kind celebration of Black-owned food, drink, and music held in Sugar Land, Texas. "The inspiration behind Cranky Granny's is my actual granny. I wanted to be able to bring people together, just like Honeyland is doing," Dean tells Tasting Table. 

We caught up with Dean on the grounds of Honeyland, where the sugary scent of her signature dish drew in crowds of loyal fans daily. Beyond earning the adoration of countless foodies at the festival, Dean's desserts — from classic cinnamon rolls to vegan varieties — even garnered praise from Tiffany Derry of "Top Chef."

Patience is the best addition to your sweet roll recipe

Many of us have encountered mishaps in the kitchen, like bland sauce or burnt toast. While you may be able to hide such flaws with a dash of salt or a scrape of the butter knife, Sianni Dean tells us that baking sweet rolls isn't quite the same. "It's not like cooking," she tells Tasting Table. "You can't burn it a little bit and then try to add a little bit of water or flour to take that taste off. You really have to have patience with this." According to the chef, many of her best recipes were the product of painstaking trial and error or lengthy experimentation.

One of the most popular products at Cranky Granny's, the Stuffed Sweet Potato Pie Roll, is a testament to this fact. Initially, Dean encountered a variety of issues, from dense dough to unbalanced flavors, in early iterations. The young baker, who began her journey with Cranky Granny's at 15, learned the value of persistence early on. "It took me a while to come up with and really critique that recipe because I started making it in school," she explains. "I just kept on working on it, and over the years, it became the perfection that it is now." Today, her patience has paid off in full — beyond the Stuffed Sweet Potato Pie Roll, Cranky Granny's has an array of bestselling confections: churro flavor, Caramel Cheesecake Biscoff, and even savory Buffalo chicken rolls.

Sianni Dean has another secret for baking perfect cinnamon rolls

Once you've earned your sweet roll stripes, it's time to learn how to take your desserts to the next level. Through her work, Sianni Dean has mastered the art of the picture-perfect cinnamon roll — each confection that leaves Cranky Granny's oven is fluffier and rounder than the next, draped in gleaming layers of icing. What advice does the young entrepreneur have for those of us making our own at home? "The key to baking the perfect cinnamon roll is to make sure that you have that ooey-gooey bottom," Dean tells Tasting Table. "Don't skimp on your butter or your cinnamon sugar. Make sure that [glaze] is oozing out of the bottom; you don't want crunchiness."

For more impressive results, Dean uses unique toppings to bring out the best of special recipes like Strawberry Shortcake Crunch, Blueberry Banana Doodle, or Churro rolls. "The Churro Sweet Roll is absolutely amazing. We put additional cinnamon sugar, chocolate, and caramel on top of that one," she says. "And we even have a secret menu where we combine rolls with different things like banana pudding or cookies and cream." 

Like apple pie á la mode, sweet rolls can even be served with a scoop of ice cream for an indulgent treat. If you're still craving Cranky Granny's Sweet Rolls, you're in luck. You can visit Dean's bakery in Pflugerville, Texas, or check out Cranky Granny's online storefront to have sweet rolls delivered to your door nationwide.